25 May 2020  |   04:29am IST

From flexi hours to flexi location, Cos adapt to post COVID-19 work culture

With nearly two months of COVID-19 induced lockdown, companies have realised that they have to adapt to the new norms at work areas. VIKANT SAHAY spoke to several company heads to find out what changes they have undertaken to ensure employee safety as the lockdown is eased
From flexi hours to flexi location, Cos  adapt to post COVID-19 work culture

VIKANT SAHAY

This Covid19 pandemic has seriously dented the growth of not just the developed countries but also the developing countries. This impact will be felt across all businesses and not just manufacturing and services. The entire supply chain is disrupted right now and to get the momentum back it will take lot of confidence and time. Things will slowly improve and one could foresee a period of at least one year to really be back to the pre-Covid19 pace of business.

With this in mind many companies in Goa have taken up measures which according to them would be more sustainable and will help them in their business growth. 

Vishwesh P Kamat, partner, Glazetek Systems, Goa, a company which manufactures high quality windows, doors etc for buildings said, “We being a small scale manufacturing enterprise based at Margao with a manufacturing unit at Cuncolim IDC, had a more or less safe voyage so far. Luckily, we had received most of our raw materials a week before the lock down. This made us survive the immediate stoppage of the inflow of goods into Goa when the work resumed in April. However, we had various other challenges to face. Firstly, some of our workers were badly affected due to lack of food supplies. We managed to arrange food, groceries for them through our own staff members who were staying closer to them.”

Kamat further stated, “We never really explored this Work From Home (WFH) concept earlier. We got good benefits of this tool wherein our staff was trained by our technical partners (Schuco, Kommerling, Saintgobain, Hilti) who usually are very busy. The continuous webinars and online trainings throughout the day for them really have helped us a lot. Another important aspect I would like to put forward is ‘Being Lean’. We were quite liberal in all our operating and non operating expenses. However, this pandemic has thought us to count and save every penny before you spend it. This has helped us in analysing many of our non-value adding costs, focusing on reducing and also eliminating some all together.”

Since its inception in 1999, Open Destinations has successfully implemented their software in over 30 countries, with a system that supports in excess of 85 million searches per day. The company has a combined staff of over 500 people in Goa and about 35 in London (95% of its UK employees are Goans) between the headquarters in London and the development, support and outsourcing centre in Goa. The company has employees in their Goa office, which have worked for Infosys, Q-Pharma, Cognizant and Accenture in the past.

Vice president of Open Destination, Milind Anvekar who is based in Goa said, “all our over 500 staff members are operating out of home and we are not asking people to come to office as they are delivering in terms of productivity. We do have issues like power stability and erratic net connectivity but despite that the productivity has been very encouraging. In fact the lost hours faced by these issues has been compensated by our staff members by working extra hours.”

As Open Destination works in the travel domain, initially it was difficult but now they have come out with solutions. “We are going ahead with some of the new projects for implementation. In fact 2019 was a very good year for travel and we expect that by 2022, normalcy will return. Also, it is a good time to invest in technology,” added Anvekar. 

Based out of a Covid-19 hotspot in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, Dr Jagat Shah the CMD of Global Network and Vibrant Markets are in the business of organising global exhibitions. They are also into international trade advisory and training school called Global Network and an international market research firm called Vibrant Markets.     

Jagat Shah said, “When Covid-19 attacked humankind, we were worried because we realised that there will be no expos taking place in the world at least for a year. We have full time staff who work on these projects. However, within a week of lockdown, we started working on exploring virtual expos and we are pleased to share that in the last 57 days of lockdown we have conducted one virtual expo with 10 Indian companies with virtual booths meeting 280 visitors in one day with B2B meetings and actual business transacted. Our staff is now busier than pre-pandemic days. All our staff are working from home and working with more efficiency and productivity.”

Shah further said, “Forget, sacking any staff or not paying salary, we have actually hired 3-4 more staff for the increased projects and we will be organising many global virtual expos this year for American and Indian companies. Every difficulty is actually an opportunity if you are innovative enough to re-orient your business quickly, does not matter what business you are in. It’s now a knowledge and digital economy. And those who have these components as part of their business model will grow faster than ever. Change is now a permanent feature of our life. Either you can be an agent of change or a victim of change.”

Ricky Noronha, director of the Online Productivity Solutions Pvt Ltd (OPSPL), one of the oldest IT companies of Goa, said, “We are very flexible. In the past 25 years, especially in last 15 years we have had a five-day week and we are the only company in Goa which has 42-hour week work culture. For more than 10 years now we always had a total felxi time as far as 42 hours per week work was completed. The only issue is that our customers must be satisfied and we deliver in time. Now many people are working from home as from flexi time we have also added flexi location.”

Former chairman of CII, Goa Chapter and CEO of Sancoale Technologies, Lalit Saraswat said, “Our processes have changed and we have started working from home and only those who cannot avoid coming to office, come in. We have set up completely different protocols and SOPs for the office and the number of people working from office has substantially reduced. In fact, we have completely stopped welcoming outsiders to our office and we too have stopped visiting other offices in person.” 

Kapil Jain, founder of Graphitto Labs, a Mumbai-based health-care company said, “As an employer, Graphitto Labs’ first priority is the safety and well-being of our employees and we are leaving no stone unturned to find a way to survive through these tough times. But for the survival of business operations, we are considering each and every assumption about our future business operations, including burn-rate, debt servicing cost, sales forecasts, supply-chain challenges, team headcount reduction, and optimising capital spending.” 

IDhar UDHAR

IDHAR UDHAR