So how do you just pick up and move your company to a work from home scenario, one fine day? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is exactly what we had to do at vCloudx. The nationwide lockdown on 22nd March, and safety concerns for team members pushed us to make Work From Home (WFH) a reality in late March.
Although it helped that we are in the technology business, and even more, that we actually provide communications platforms and services to our clients, it wasn’t as easy for us. What we really learned in those first few days was pretty much a crash course in re-starting a business in an unknown scenario.
The Switch to Remote Working
First, we studied the workstreams and tasks of our team members, and figured what all they’d require to continue working efficiently from home. We made sure that everyone had a laptop and good internet connectivity at home. Those who didn’t have good connectivity were provided 4G data cards. Next, we increased the bandwidth to our local servers, to ensure that the pipe could handle the additional traffic since everyone would be working remotely.
Once the basic infrastructure was settled, we held a Town hall meeting where everyone was explained what was coming and how we planned to keep work going, ensuring high productivity. Many doubts and queries were addressed, and lots of suggestions were accepted and implemented. One of the key outcomes was a Personal Day Plan that everyone agreed to fill up each day and share with their team leader. This would help maintain transparency and give everyone a focus point. We would discuss this in a Daily Standup, over our own conferencing platform each morning and the meeting would set the tone for the day. Here, we were lucky enough to have our own platform, but with the plethora of options available, this is no longer a challenge for any organisation.
The Correct Measures to Begin With
By the next morning, we circulated a Guidelines document for everyone. Some key themes included were around the topics of-
- Getting your work done
- Being available during office hours
This, along with the Daily Standup and work plans, was sufficient to ensure the right amount of structure that was needed for smooth continuity without any issues.
Learnings Came In Quick
What we realised along the way is that a degree of social interactivity, that occurs spontaneously during office hours, was being missed by the team. So, we set up a 15-minute evening tea session, where teams would get on a video call in the evening and have tea together while catching up on general things. Off and on, we would surprise a team member by getting a delicious meal delivered at their place through Swiggy/Zomato. We encouraged teams in making new Whatsapp groups, where the conversations were more social than work related.
While not entirely unexpected, we were pleasantly surprised to see how much our productivity went up. While saving time and effort in commuting was one part, what benefitted more was the effect of the team members being in a different frame of mind. They were able to manage home responsibilities better than before which further worked wonders for their sense of achievement and got them in better moods. Conversely, we had to agree that working from home brings its own peculiarities. Distractions, longer meal-times, breaks etc., due to the environment of the home were also realities to be acknowledged, accepted and worked around.
Well, the learning is still on. Each day brings some new insight, and each passing week improves the outcomes. The essence of this is, to put it in a cliché, ‘a whole new world’. With time, open-mindedness and effort, we will make it work!