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Important to do a work from home drill regularly to stay tuned to technology environment: Agnel Victor, Head, Human Resources, Avendus Capital

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Avendus Capital worked closely with each business leader to identify critical activities in alignment with the existing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity measures. Accordingly, the team implemented additional DR measures for department/business specific applications along with alternate data backup provisions on cloud, shares Agnel Victor, Head, Human Resources, Avendus Capital

From an IT context, we had our Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity measures in place. Having said that, each situation is unique and some of the actions we undertook are as follows:

(1) Emphasized focus on Microsoft Teams and Zoom as a communication and collaboration platform

(2) Worked with each business leader to identify critical activities in alignment with the existing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity measures – accordingly we implemented additional DR measures for department/business specific applications along with alternate data backup provisions on cloud

(3) We strengthened the existing DR plan and prepared an alternate DR plan to mitigate any Avendus Data Centre (DC) disaster

(4) Given the nature of the business, many of our colleagues worked on desktops – we facilitated the transition of such employees to enable them to work from home

New paradigm

While we were setting up to work remotely, we understood that it is a new paradigm for Avendus and will be a new experience for many of us. As such, it was important for us to make the transition smooth for our employees. While we did take proactive measures like introducing collaborative tools and provided guidelines and best practices – we anticipate the following challenges:

(1) Reduced Collaboration: WFH results in employees working in isolation.

(2) Communication & Coordination Challenges: One of the biggest challenges is to communicate and coordinate with different team members. When you have your entire team working from home, it becomes much more difficult to stay aligned. This calls for an additional effort to make it happen and could result in virtual meeting/call fatigue

(3) Personal and Professional conflict: When employees work from home for longer timeframes, the division between home and workspace becomes blurred. This results in a two way conflict – the firm expecting that you stay connected all times, while family members expect employees to maintain a work life balance

(4) People Management: WFH makes it tougher for people managers to provide direction and supervision. Managers need to invest more time to stay on top of things, keep the team motivated by providing regular feedback and guidance

(5) Personal Connect: At Avendus, we always strive to have a personal connect with our employees. While video conferencing helps to some extent, it is not the same as face to face interaction

Lessons Learnt

We implemented a framework that has our people at the centre of all our decisions. Some of the things that have worked well for us are as follows:

Always think employee first: We were able to execute our plans so far and ensure seamless transition due to employee collaboration. If you put your people first and demonstrate concern, you will have buy in across the board. Small gestures go a long way – solve for issues not the crisis

Over communicate: Employees are always keen to know what’s happening – regular and focused communication is the key to keeping employees informed and aligned to our plans and expectations

It begins at the Top: Involve the senior management to provide reassurance and guidance through regular touchpoints

Formulate a core team: In this case we have a central BCP team and COVID-19 Response team – Having a core team with senior management representation enables quick decision making

Be proactive: Don’t wait for the right time or to watch what your peers are doing. We are doing what is best for us and our employees. We are trying to think ahead, anticipate scenarios and take proactive actions

Be prepared & review existing mechanisms: Even though we did have Disaster Recovery and other plans in place, some aspects were not updated which resulted in us going into overdrive to execute – better planning and regular review of crisis plans in conjunction with the business will help in the long run

Be flexible & be open to thinking differently: Crisis situations always require adaptive to changing situation. What works well in times of normalcy may not be the best bet in times of crisis

Technology Tools used

Microsoft Teams and Zoom are the tools we used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees. We sent communications about “How to use” and “Guidelines”. We also set up a helpdesk for query resolution to reduce downtime

One size fits all approach wont work
I don’t think that a one size fits all approach will work. While the current situation is big – something of this magnitude hasn’t happened in a long time and I hope that it doesn’t happen in the near future. Before an organisation decides to revisit remote working, multiple variables need to be considered – nature of the business, size of operations, geographical spread, no. of employees, dependency on specific infrastructure, regulatory environment etc.

Rather than revamping your remote working policies, I would say that there is need to stay prepared for such situations from a business continuity standpoint. Also, one could holistically look at technologies that make work easier and more productive for employees. Just like we do a fire drill every six months, maybe we could do a work from home drill every once in a while to stay tuned to our technology environment.


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