The coronavirus pandemic has forced people around the world to give up their daily lives and limit themselves to their homes. Such a drastic change in behaviour has obviously had an impact on businesses everywhere, including in India, where many IT giants, startups and corporates have asked employees to work from home. However, this impact is not just limited to their balance sheets but also in their day-to-day operations.
Of course, this goes beyond just adjusting to working outside the office — it’s also about finding new ways to connect with teammates, reviewing targets and approaching consumers and customers in a more responsible manner.
Startups and venture capitalist firms in India acknowledge these challenges and have already had quite a few learnings from these first few days of operating a remote workforce. Based on our conversations, some of the prominent challenges faced by companies include team bonding, delay in hiring processes, and infrastructure inadequacies.
Some very normal activities which were taken for granted while physical presence was a given, have been hampered once and for all. However efficient we proclaim the virtual ways are this cannot cater to the possibilities and collaborative opportunities the physical presence permits.
Following are some of the activities which were vital for a smooth running of the company which are affected and how innovatively have companies tried to overcome these issues-
- Team Building
- Consumer Goods
Let’s have a brief view of the success of these implemented techniques.
Not to mention that letting a single person work from home saves the average company $10,000 and the average employee–$6,000.
Clearly, there is a problem here that needs to be solved. Remote work also has a dark side. A growing number of studies shows that one of the biggest challenges to distributed teams is none other than isolationism. Everyone is working on their own. There is no watercooler to hang around and no co-workers to socialize with. No company lunches.
Virtual team building is a method to bring remote teams together and create a work environment that mimics a co-located office environment. It allows the entire team to become familiar with one another and create meaningful relationships that leave all members feeling more valued and satisfied. Some of the tools you can use to keep in touch with your remote team are Calendly (for easy scheduling), Chanty (for simple team chat), and Appear.in (for video conferencing). Knowledge sharing part also bring the team even closer together. With tools like Helpjuice, you can create a knowledge base that contains your team’s collective expertise and is available to anyone at any time.
Remote brainstorming may be difficult to organize but it’s certainly doable with the right tools. If you’re gathering to figure out a new product name, you can use just about any document management tool such as Google Docs or Synс.in. If you’re working on the user experience design of your product, you can use virtual whiteboarding software such as Miro.
Other ways are-
Work in pairs with Zoom. Show your appreciation with Hey Taco. Make everyone feel Engaged with Icebreakers. Meet up in Real Life with Donut.
Many companies fear that millennials working from home are not used to social distancing and may end up depressed or may show psychological side-effects. In such cases, counsellors and psychologists are helping them navigate this phase and focus on work while being away from the workplace.
The overall hiring sentiment in the country is likely to witness an adverse impact in the short term with almost 60-65 per cent interviews getting delayed, especially in the services sector, following the slowdown across industries triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sectors including banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), retail, logistics (delivery) where a lot of frontline-hiring takes place are likely to witness this delay.
Worldwide travel restrictions also mean people aren’t travelling for business, one of the biggest challenges for recruiters trying to meet potential hires.
As a solution to this many companies are moving to virtual methods where, interviews are usually by phone with follow-up interviews in-person or sometimes by phone or video conference. It comes as recruiters and hiring managers switch from face-to-face meetings to online interviews using apps such as Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp.
Recruitment firms are going online to interview candidates who are working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The in-person Welcome Day event for new University employees on the Seattle campus is on hiatus during the COVID-19 outbreak and replaced with ONE UW, which is an online onboarding checklist tool helping new staff on the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses prepare for their first day at work and beyond. Some Welcome Day presentations, such as Addressing Discrimination and Harassment, are also to be offered online.
Though Online interviews also suit potential hires as they take up less time and are more convenient., job seekers share that it can be more challenging to connect with the interviewer online because there is often less small talk and it’s harder to pick up on non-verbal cues.
Educational technology companies are taking online education to the next level, as schools, colleges and coaching centres close down following the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Many students and professionals are signing up for online classes, for entrance exams like the JEE and NEET or for up-skilling. Even school students are making best of this social distancing phase.
As a result, a clutch of ed-tech players, such as UpGrad, Vedantu, CL Educate, Imarticus Learning, Simplilearn.
Professionals are utilizing the time they have saved by working from home and upskilling themselves.
Consumer Goods & Entertainment
As the global spread of coronavirus continues, a handful of brands appear to be, at least in the short term, uniquely profiting, such as antiseptic labels, medical suppliers, canned food brands, and at-home entertainment companies. Meanwhile, conventions, sporting events, concerts, movie theatres, and basically any place where people congregate are taking hits — and that’s just the beginning of the fallout. People are worried about germs. They’re turning to Purell, Lysol, Clorox, and other disinfectant products. Brands like Clorox, Netflix, and Campbell are benefiting from the coronavirus.
The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of antimicrobial products in early March that are effective against Covid-19, which includes Lysol, Clorox, and Purell branded items, but for weeks, people have been scrambling to stockpile household goods. As per Bloomberg shares for Clorox were also on the rise in late February alongside two drug makers developing potential treatments for the disease.
The restaurant industry at large is bracing for declining sales and a pivot to delivery options in the coming weeks, as more people are choosing, or being forced, to eat at home.
MarketWatch, and certainly the restaurant industry, is predicting that demand for food and grocery delivery will grow if the outbreak takes a turn for the worse. That’s good news for the likes of Zomato, Swiggy, GrubHub, InstaCart, but not necessarily for service workers, the people who cook, serve, and deliver food, who often work without paid sick leave. Indian food delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy have introduced a program of “contactless delivery,” which was first implemented in Wuhan to reduce risks. Food couriers will drop off orders at a person’s front door or a location they requested in advance to minimize human contact.
As for the entertainment industry, Film releases have been pushed back, musicians and performers are scrapping concerts and tours, and major cultural events, like the Cannes Film Festival, are at risk of being cancelled. A series of high-profile companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Apple, have cancelled or withdrew from major tech conferences, signalling how these companies are not willing to risk employees’ well-being.
Air freight operators and logistics firms are being forced to suspend operations because goods are piling up at cargo terminals due to lack of staff and trucks have been halted by police enforcing the Covid-19 lock down across the country. That could lead to essential supplies grinding to a halt as the country embarks on a three-week lock down despite express government assurances that this wouldn’t be the case.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, the measures we can take up during these testing times should be above material gains and should be backing up Humanity. Cumulative efforts and religiously practicing safe hygiene and maintaining social distancing are the solutions which we can exhort.