It’s been a challenging time the last couple of months, where the COVID had taken everyone by surprise, and for an organization like us, it was important to ensure the business continuity for our customers & the safety of our employees & their families.
With the COVID hitting India during the month of March and the increasing cases, we were indecisive about how it would span off in the near future. But one week prior to the formal announcement of the lockdown, we were all set for a 100% work from home option to ensure business continuity. While there are multiple advantages in having an office in a tier 3 city, connectivity was a challenge for the employees residing in remote areas. Our HR & Operations team phased out the movement to work from home to ensure all the infrastructure is enabled for our employees to ensure seamless operations. By the 18th of March, we had shut our office and completely started operating from home and by March 21st the first complete lockdown was announced.
While we did have work from home options on a regular basis, we never had the entire organization working from home at the same time. It took a while for the whole team to adjust to the nuances of working completely from home and collaborating across teams to deliver projects, it was a challenge on its own.
Starting April, Niveus had some critical product deliverables, some coming at the last minute due to the moratorium announcements being done and we had to deliver some of the solutions in quick succession and at scale, these were really challenging times for us as the team was just getting accustomed to the remote operating model. That is when we started facing major delivery issues. We had also quickly put together process strategies in quick succession as there were multiple products being rolled out in the month of April & May and some of these solutions were key differentiators during these times.
But after our initial failures, things changed; our delivery teams did incredible jobs in bringing things back on track. Our delivery team started putting a process, which enabled us to see enhancements in our deliverables during the month of April. But we were not through yet, the process was still maturing, while we were seeing short wins, we also had to make it consistent.
In spite of bad weather in the coastal region with fluctuating connectivity and electricity, our teams did an amazing job to ensure all the committed deliverables for our customers were delivered during these challenging times and these releases had a major impact on our customer’s business.
Then came in the announcement of things opening up. While Udupi was in a green zone, we had to take care of all the precautions to ensure that in case if we had to open up, things would be safe for our employees & their families. We started operating with 20% of our total capacity with all the SOPs in place as per the government guidelines and enabled some of the key employees to work from the office.
Starting June, Govt. of India started opening-up across all zones and we had to settle on a plan of action on the number of employees we plan to bring to the office. We took the decision to operate with 50% workforce at any given time. Again our HR & the operations team created rosters for all our 130+ employees, making sure all of them were safely brought to the office and all SOPs strictly followed.
But then came another challenge on how to maintain the SOP at scale and also provide confidence to the employees that the environment was safe to work. A couple of key things were put in place by our operations teams, like:
- A Carpool group was created to bring in employees across Udupi, Mangalore, Karkala & Brahmavar areas.
- Signage, instructions, and markers were placed on the floors starting from the entry to all other areas in the office.
- We started providing free lunch to all our employees at the office to ensure they don’t need to go out for any purpose.
- Identified all the requirements for which an employee might need to go out of the office premises and provided all those in the office.
These key factors ensured and built sufficient confidence in the employees and made them comfortable coming to the office.
The other key HR decision that was taken to boost the employee morale was to ensure that the hike cycle was not affected and we rolled out hikes to all the employees. Also, the hike percentage was maintained almost the same as last year. Moreover, we ensured that there were no cuts in the variable components for the senior members & the leadership team and all the salaries were disbursed on time.
Now that we have opened up the office, we understand the extent of responsibilities that is on us to ensure the safety of our employees. We are also confident that based on the measures taken, we should be able to get through this phase ensuring the safety of our employees.
These were challenging times and maybe once in a lifetime opportunity for us to learn to manage such crises, and test our business continuity systems in place. We are hoping things would be better in the near future and we, at Niveus, will be successful in negating the current situation both in terms of our business growth and the safety of our employees and will come out much stronger and scale newer heights in the coming years.