The coronavirus outbreak has created a stir in the entire world. It has hampered the daily rituals of every human being, forcing them to adapt to new methods. The transition was difficult for some and strenuous for others, but not easy for anyone. From staying home for weeks to being cautious every time one steps out, each person had to modify some aspects of their life to be safe and keep functioning in the lockdown.
Changes in working methods were inevitable. Many countries adopted work from home when the coronavirus hit them, and India was no different. To keep the economy going, this was the only solution at our disposal. Following the pattern, Mahindra Susten also embraced work from home a few weeks before the lockdown was announced.
How the company made the shift to working from home?
Work from home was a challenge for all of us at Mahindra Susten. It was something we had never encountered together before but were ready to advance through it. We faced problems like lack of proper communication, delay in work due to the new working environment, increase in co-ordination due to multiple communications, hindrance in team collaboration, a changed environment for employee engagement, technological hiccups, absence of physical team building activities and downtime with co-workers.
To tackle these problems, we set a system into place so that we could be more efficient:
- A fixed working time is designated, so that working from home does not become tedious
- At the beginning of every week, a list is made of the tasks that need to be delivered in the week
- The team leaders then convey the task to their respective teams and the deadline for the deliverables
- The time of any meeting that needs to be conducted is given in advance so that people keep themselves free during that time and no one’s time is wasted
- A video call meeting is conducted for any work that requires more than 2 employees
- Employees are suggested to have a designated workspace at home so that they have a set routine and they can work productively
- Employees are also encouraged to share any work problems they are facing with the management
How has the shift impacted productivity?
After we set the above pointers into action, we saw a positive change in the performances of our teams – communication within teams became more effective, virtual group calls saved a lot of time, the job list given to the teams helped them prioritize their work and deliver it on time, and the fixed working hours helped the employees maintain a work-life balance. Digital mediums like Zoom, WhatsApp, Google Meet, Hangouts also played a significant role in improving communication to achieve maximum productivity.
How did we keep the employees engaged and motivated?
Working from home is difficult as the lines between personal and professional life is blurred. Also, the absence of change of environment is discouraging for people, making them have feelings of stress, unproductiveness and lack of motivation.
We feared that our employees may face similar problems. So, to distract them from their lockdown blues, we decided on some fun activities like themed weekly meetings in which people were asked to dress up or wear a prop according to the theme in a virtual meeting. Our employees actively participated in it, sometimes wearing a Batman or a Santa Claus mask and sometimes dressing up as Ravan or a Sheikh from Saudi. We were glad that they thoroughly enjoyed the activities.
We also introduced a hashtag called “#PeopleOfSusten during #QuarantineDays” on all our social platforms in which our team members shared the activities they did at home during lockdown. Through this, we discovered some unknown talents of our employees, giving everyone the opportunity to know each other better.
The transformation of working from home was not easy, but the combined efforts of all our team members has made it possible.