Work from home will be a reality in the near to medium term: Kiran Zachariah, Subex
Subex was in a better position to deal with the crisis primarily because it had adopted some flexibility to allow work from home many years back., states Kiran Zachariah, Vice-president – IoT Business solutions ,Subex, as he tells us how his company has managed to ensure business as usual through a series of proactive initiatives
Some edited excerpts from an interview:
From an IT perspective, what are some of the key initiatives initiated by your organisation?
Subex has been allowing partial work from home to its employees for a couple of years now. While this policy was in place, we had never planned or anticipated for a scenario where we would have 100% of our workforce working from home.
While we had a large number of users with laptops there were still a sizeable chunk that still used desktops, portable machines had to be arranged for them, we had to ensure that our network infrastructure was capable of handling the increased load and lastly and most importantly we had to enforce enhanced security while ensuring the same level of productivity to ensure our data and our customer’s data was secure. Almost all we did from an IT perspective was coordinated through Emergency Response Team constituted by the management, and having the cross functional support made actions taken by the IT team more effective on the ground.
The key initiatives that have allowed us to continue as usual have been in reducing single points of failures as far as possible with multiple offices worldwide, diversified workforce, highly available technology stack with UPS, moving key applications like email, collaboration, ERP, financial systems to the cloud and backups available on the cloud.
What are some of the key challenges faced to ensure a Work from Home Policy?
Some of the key challenges faced have been the unreliability of internet in India which was largely addressed by providing backup connectivity options such as GSM dongles. The need for increased interactions that is largely solved by the productivity suit that we have chosen and the inability of some of our customers with captive centers to move quickly enough to approve new work from home policies for our employees. However, having said that a majority of our customers supported our moves it was just a few that could not respond in time.
What are some of the key lessons learnt during this crisis?
In such scenarios the need for increased communication that is clear and precise is paramount. While a lot of scenarios can be planned for, some situations were not conceptualized because these things are unprecedented an example of such a scenario would be, low internet speeds caused due to congestion in residential areas as a large number of people are now working from home. Need for strong vendor and partner relationships to fall back on as backups are just a few key lessons from this crisis. The positives from the crisis are there has been increased communication and collaboration, provided flexibility to staff, working styles have been adapted. Areas that require improvement are having resilient internet connectivity, allowing connectivity through multiple devices securely and moving more towards a resilient Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.
What are some of the technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees?
Subex has been using the O365 suite of products for collaboration for a number of years now and our employees across the world are well versed in its functionalities. We have some other backup conferencing tools apart from what is provided in the 0365 suite.
Is this the right time to revisit remote working policies and redesign them for wider application for business as usual? Please share your perspective?
Subex was in a better position to deal with the crisis primarily because we had adopted some flexibility to allow work from home many years back. Work from home will be a reality in the near to medium term, while it may not be at this scale, it will definitely be required in scenarios where employees are exposed to contagions that require self-quarantining. It is best that organizations prepare for such situations to maintain optimal productivity. Even customers have begun to embrace this new reality and have experienced no difference in the business value that we have been providing to them.
If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]