There is intense activity in HR around facilitating infrastructure to enable employees to work from home, keeping them engaged, and rolling out performance management systems.
By Charu Sabnavis
Have people accomplished work, met targets, executed plans in these times when the majority is working from home? Manish Gour, head, HR, Heavy Engineering, L&T, says, “There is intense activity in HR around facilitating infrastructure to enable employees to work from home, keeping them engaged, rolling out performance management systems, reporting on the pandemic and working with contractors to manage contract labour. Virtual meeting platforms are a big boon and people have adapted surprisingly fast.”
Akshaya Kashyap, VP, HR, Future Generali, echoes: “HR processes are running as usual, but we are missing informal chats, spontaneous huddles, emotional connect.” “People in support functions like planning, project management, design, sales, finance are managing well from home, but shop floor has taken a big hit. The management team is adapting to it,” says Gour.
“Insurance being customer-facing, the retail business is hit because of lack of customer connect and advanced tech, coupled with stringent regulations,” adds Kashyap.
A digital marketing executive at an FMCG company says: “There is a flurry of activity in our space as we are exploring alternative marketing channels for our products in the ‘essential goods’ category.”
“Work has slowed down to a trickle as most of our clients are unable to provide us with data during the lockdown. Limited infrastructure and data security considerations have impacted work,” says Alok Jain, partner, KW Jain & Co, a CA firm.
Amod Khanorkar, senior director, CARE Ratings, is sceptical how they would complete annual surveillance processes, year-end activities subject to regulatory norms. “It has panned out well thanks to robustness of our IT systems and the responsiveness of employees and clients,” he says.
“Our branches are operating partially since a large part of our business is client-facing and not too many customers are net-banking savvy,” a senior official at a private bank states. “Work from home has posed challenges for back-office operation because of data security considerations, infrastructure, physical documents and the need for document processing to coincide with the forex and securities market hours and unreliable internet speed during those hours. Banking operations, barring few functions, are not geared towards working from home at this point,” he adds.
A few themes emerge. First, industries like manufacturing and banking do not lend themselves to employees working from home in a big way. Second, support functions work well in a virtual environment. Third, small & medium-sized companies are unable to provide infrastructure. Fourth, data security considerations pose a big challenge. Overall, the work-from-home experiment has been positive and is likely to gain traction with some preparation and infrastructure upgrade.
The author is an executive coach, organisational development facilitator, and founder-director of Delta Learning. Views are personal