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Our lessons from the Covid 19 crisis: Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications

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Dr Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications, tells us how his firm’s preparedness for disasters has helped it maintain business as usual

We, at Aeris, stand by our commitment to serve our clients, partners and associates while keeping health and wellbeing of our employees, partners, associates and their families on priority. Taking cognizance of WHO data that social distancing in the fourth and fifth week after first case is crucial to contain the infection, we have mandated work from home and obeying the directive released Government of India to the private sector to lockdown office premises. There is a great responsibility on us as a trusted IoT technology partner to do what it takes to make sure everything works at this time of stress. Hence, before locking down our office, we successfully tested and executed department wise Business Continuity Plan for uninterrupted services from Aeris to our customers.

Key IT initiatives taken 

Digital Access: Aeris Customer Support and Helpdesk teams are available round the clock to extend any support and information to our customers over the email: [email protected] IoT device installation videos and self-help guides have been made available to clients.

Deployment & Device Implementation Services: Our deployment and installation support team is fully equipped for working from home. All processes related to national and international customer onboarding, account related operations and troubleshooting are enabled for smooth functioning along with remote testing and verification activities. Each team member provisioned and trained on at-least two functional processes.

Sufficient Inventory has been stocked and ready in advance to meet any contingency. Our partners are enabled to send the inventories directly to customer locations. Measures have been taken for priority and speedy courier. However, actual delivery may get impacted with due to the courier service availability and government advisory on regional lockdown. All on-field visits and 3rd Party physical installation activities are currently available, subject to government advisory on travel and movement of goods and people for each region of operations. Installation training video and self-help guides have been made available for installations.

Operational Redundancy: We have built a full-fledged contingency plan to deal with any event. Our critical Global Network Operating Centers and Help Desk are operational 24×7. We have enabled our teams to work remotely with cross functional training. Additional back-up resources in each shift have been identified to work in emergency situation to ensure smooth operations.

Key challenges faced

Impact on organizational culture
While work from home is the trend these days, we have always valued and encouraged face to face collaboration. Hence, it might be challenging for everyone adjusting to this new routine. We have always worked closely as a team and seeing faces of employees every morning while stepping inside the office has brightened the day.

While, there are much fewer opportunities to connect in person throughout the day, employees are leveraging virtual mediums to connect. For managers, setting and managing expectations on working from home means taking a big leap of faith with respect to team management. This means trusting that they will take care of their daily work routine as well as personal well-being. Challenge for HR is to make sure Leaders are cognizant of the challenges and need to keep their teams engaged and connected during this period.

Much before the lockdown was announced, we had successfully completed dry run on making teams work from home in different departments from President’s office to Finance, to Engineering and GSOC to Deployment and Implementation and had aligned our partners for the worst case scenarios. The business continuity process was also initiated. However, the biggest challenge is faced by our salesforce who cannot meet clients face to face. This adds to the lack of visibility of the overall business realisation for this and coming quarters.

Security
In an age of global hacks, cyber terrorism and in fact, physical terror attacks, the question of how to keep our employees, our data, and our information safe, is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In the office, we have protocols, procedures and policies covering everything from virus protection and password policy through to fire evacuation or what to do when working alone in the office.It’s Work from home and Work For Home both: Improved work-life balance is usually cited as one of the major incentives, and benefits of, working from home. However, it’s not a given. Managing family expectations and being unavailable to cater to their needs while working at home is not easy.

Key lessons learnt

The current time has made us realize that a sturdy business continuity process truly come handy. If you trust employees with the problem statement, they will come up with innovative ideas to make sure that the problem is addressed.

Future
While organizations might have to relook at making the BCP strategies sturdier in view of the current situation, I don’t feel this situation is going to culturally alter the DNA of organizations. If anything, this is going to reinforce the importance of face to face collaboration. It will reinstate the belief that face-to-face collaboration – with clear timelines and decision makers – is critical to creativity and success. This will, of course, be balanced with the now tested conviction, that the organization is ready to deploy work from home policies at short notice in case needed.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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