Work from Home is good value add

Dr Chandra Mauli Dwivedi

THE Indian industries have witnessed a big turmoil due to the COVID- pandemic. Be it manufacturing, FMCG, BFSI, agriculture, healthcare all sectors have changed drastically. While there has been a major imbalance, this also presents a great opportunity for Indian industries. Manufacturers all over rely heavily on supply chains, and the supply chain has been the most impacted during COVID. This lays a great opportunity for the Indian logistics sector to step up and take up the mantle from countries most affected by COVID such as China, Hong Kong etc, writes Dr Chandra Mauli Dwivedi, Chief Human Resource Officer ESDS Software Solution. He was speaking to Shriram Shinde, editor TechTrail.

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Another remarkable aspect of the Indian workforce is that India has a very large talent pool and a sound understanding of technology. This can be leveraged to become a global leader in at least two-three industries which have seen an increase in demand such as IT and technology spaces, consumer goods, healthcare and pharmaceuticals etc. Over the past quarter, there have been many start-ups and SMEs investing in disrupting technologies such as AI, healthcare robotics, IoT etc for faster detection of COVID and helping people linking cutting edge technology with healthcare services. This trend will further continue to grow till the threat of COVID still lurks amongst us.

Prevention is always better than cure, therefore the new normal of Work From Home while a necessity, now has a lot of positive impact on the industry and employees. With the successful deployment of HR policies and practices, Work from Home is actually a very good value add where employees can spend time with their loved ones, pursue additional education online and invest in other hobbies. Once companies resume and the industry gets back to again working from the office, it will be a change for the good. People will appreciate work ethics, working in teams, building team morale and personal interaction with their coworkers. This will boost employee morale and productivity of the workplace and eventually get the industry back to where it was.

The COVID pandemic has led to a huge growth of unemployment due to which people have faced a lot of issues to have a living. According to a report it is said that approx. 41 lakh youth in India lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic with most job losses in the construction and farm sector due to poverty. While there is an overall high intensity of people losing jobs in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, logistics etc industries such as Healthcare, Consumer goods, IT &  Technology, Telecom has seen steady growth in terms of new job creation and hiring.

Niche sectors which had earlier functioned as an ancillary service such as IoT, AI & ML, and Cloud data services have now seen some of the highest recruiting in the past quarter. COVID also has seen a high demand for healthcare frontline staff, qualified doctors and medical practitioners, Research and medical staff, Pharmaceutical graduates and related services. Additionally, as everything has been moved to a virtual world set up be it product launches, meetings, webinars, important conferences, there is a need in the industry for a special group of people who marry their core competencies to staying ahead of the technology curve and deliver services using the latest technologies available for video conferencing. One common denominator amongst all of this and what all the recruiters are looking for in their employees is what added digital skillset have they picked up during the times of COVID and how agile are they in terms of delivering efficiency using the new-age technology and digital media.

One positive aspect which COVID-19 has reminded the world is how imperative it is to be interdependent and the need for unity of purpose. While COVID has hit all spheres of the Business- profitability, bottom line, various- stakeholders it has affected employees the most. However, leading companies have managed to successfully try and shelter their employees against the aftermath of COVID-19 to an extent.

There are two major concerns which business leaders need to address with respect to its employees. The first being continuity or the process of succession during COVID. This could be countered by establishing a dedicated cross-functional team (a business response and continuity office). The appropriate cross-functional team could coordinate the activities of different business units, monitor and provide the necessary information to the senior management team for further communication with employees, customers, and partners.

The second most critical one is how to effectively ensure communication with employees. The leader should remain calm in times of crisis as this resonates the most with the employees. Therefore, consistent and effective communication and interaction with employees can strengthen the company and enhance its culture. Remember to think of the future. If there is disruption, there will also be recovered. We should also consider providing psychological and financial support to employees, such as emergency assistance, additional insurance coverage, and regular payroll payments. Make sure that your social media policy is properly defined to address any crisis. Provide employees with an internal communication channel to report what they are seeing and feeling within the organisation to ensure direct communication as an alternative to social media. At the same time, an effective social media monitoring programme may help identify emerging issues that are affecting your customers, markets, and production regions. It is a challenge for the company’s culture and management practices. If you believe that people are the most valuable asset to your business, then you have to communicate, plan, and be consistent. Show up for your employees and support them when they need you the most.

This unprecedented pandemic has brought the wheels of the economy to a halt. Its impact on health and livelihoods is astronomical. Owing to this crisis, the only option one can adopt is to rise to the occasion and adopt a serendipity mindset that can help businesses take advantage of this unpredictable time. Businesses are experiencing major impacts no matter how established they are and are having to re-look at how they manage and operate their business including re-visitation of their business plan. The impact on startups or small businesses can be way more brutal as they have scarcer cash reserves and a smaller margin for managing sudden slumps. The ripple effect of the shutdown has had a crucial impact on India’s economy, as all business sectors get affected resulting in low revenue generation due to an eventual halt/slump on the sale of products and/or services. Leaders will have to adapt to a new set of rules and be watchful of the following aspects to alleviate risks and to endure the slowdown caused by the impact of COVID19:-

1. Checking achievability of the Business Model-The market is changing every single day, it is imperious to reconsider the business model and reassess where your business stands as per your assumptions concerning the revenue and cost. This is also a critical time to track current financial metrics and cash flows.

2. Stakeholder Communication-The best initiatives are curated in trying times. Consult with your investors or external experts to plan the right form of communication with stakeholders, most important customers and employees. Have an honest conversation on the situation and its impact on your business with your entire leadership team. Any undesirable message should be conveyed with utmost empathy along with transparent reasons. In these difficult times, it is important to stand united and help one another in whatever way we can.

3. Operating in the new normal-With COVID-19 restrictions in place for the next few months, organisations need to be able to protect key revenue streams and maintain their focus on costs.

There are many questions in the mind of students, parents, teachers and even the educational institutions who are either perusing or have competed engineering. Questions like what is the future of engineering? Will engineers have jobs in a post-COVID world or will they need to equip themselves with new skills first? How will core engineering actually be taught online? Indeed, the future is uncertain, but that doesn’t mean it is dreadful.

The pandemic has brought major changes in the old way of functioning and with everything that is moving online, there will be a huge boom in sectors like e-commerce, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics etc. Once all this data goes online, there is a huge scope for different kinds of predictions and that’s where engineers will be in huge demand.

Freshers who are graduated will have plenty of opportunities, of course, skill sets and how you use them will play an important role. I do understand that currently everything is halted for freshers but my suggestion to them would be trying to take up internships, a part-time job which will help them with good and relevant experience or try to upskill themselves via online courses. This will help them to be prepared and respond well when the right opportunity comes.

The manner in which the world was functioning has changed drastically be it manufacturing, education, healthcare, farming or any sector due to the pandemic. Every sector has moved online and Data centres and AI has come in an important role. Mechanical engineers, Aerospace engineers, Communication or Electrical Engineering etc. all will have their role to play in various sectors. From E-commerce, Shipping and logistics, Education, Healthcare sectors should have enough openings for engineers.

There will be enough hiring in the Tech and IT sector, as a matter of fact, we are looking to hire around 200 engineers in the next quarter. When we look to hire our lay maximum emphasis on three factors:

Adaptability and flexibility, domain knowledge and expertise and cultural-fit

We have been recognised by GPTW survey amongst Asia’s top companies to work for successively in the past couple of years. We are looking at engineers/ fresher’s who can quickly adapt and flexible in working across teams. Secondly, domain knowledge and expertise are of the utmost importance when it comes to technical job profiles like software engineers or a Data software specialist etc. Lastly, and the most important attribute we look in candidates is how much of a cultural fit would they be at ESDS. This is something candidates can easily research from our website and the initiatives we have for our current employees. For instance, during this pandemic, our CEO conducts virtual yoga sessions in the morning for the well-being of our employees. We also encourage our employees to follow a nutrient-rich diet in times of COVID to boost their immunity and physical well-being.

Speaking of upskilling and collaborations, we have recently partnered with colleges and universities like Sandeep university, MIT Pune, DY Patil Pune to provide exhaustive courses on Cloud computing, Datacenter management, IoT etc (need inputs from ESDS on any other courses). We firmly believe that these courses will pave the way for future-ready engineers.

While everything has been covered, one thing which I would like to add to our budding software engineers, data engineers and aspiring IT graduates is that find a specialisation. It could be Cloud computing or Research on a data centre or IoT but specialisation is important to distinguish yourselves.

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