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Amidst The Pandemic — How Can Entrepreneurs Do Their Best as Employers?

What does this mean to us as employers?

While we manage the business risks during this outbreak and the emergency situation, it is equally critical for us as entrepreneurs to ensure that we remain extremely alert and aware of our business needs from a team perspective. In part one of this blog, we looked at some of the critical aspects of handling this situation from a business standpoint, and with this one, we aim to address some of the immediate actions that we need to take as employers:

1. People & Safety first!

While we put all our efforts towards ensuring smooth sailing through this period, it is imperative that we make our employees’ health and safety a priority. Roll out ‘Employee Health and Safety Guidelines’ immediately if not already done! While most of us have already stopped all the travel and switched to remote working options for all our team members, it is imperative that these guidelines are adhered to diligently by all and not taken lightly in the name of ‘work’.

2. Newer ways of functioning!

With the outbreak of Covid19 and given the current situation, it is clear that we are not too far from a situation that will require us to find different ways of working, of staying connected and staying productive. We do anticipate remote working to be the new norm in the times to come and this will test our readiness to adapt to the situation as well as our systems and processes with minimal disruptions. So, with the newer ways of operating, here are some of the things that we need to brace ourselves for:

a. It is time that we are digitally equipped! Identify the different tools and systems to ensure team connectivity. Remember, while we live in a digital world today, being digitally well equipped and savvy may not be a norm for a few people and as entrepreneurs we must address this gap with sensitivity and responsibility.

b. At CIIE.CO, we vigorously use tools like Slack, Zoom, Google tools (Google drives, hangouts etc.) This helps us stay connected and also have access to real-time updates on the projects / initiatives we’re working on. In times like these, it is also absolutely critical for all of us to decide and act on addressing gaps, if any, with agility.

c. Now is also the time for us to ensure that we have detailed and well-defined processes across all the functions and projects, which are also well communicated and rolled out to every team member to ensure minimal disruption for all our business-as-usual operations and on-going activities.

It is definitely a big plus if the processes are already well defined and structured. The trick then lies in ensuring that the same is understood very well and followed vigorously across all teams. Identifying ‘Process Champions’ at different levels or creating different task forces for new initiatives/projects during this time may also serve as a catalyst in building ownership.

Remember, process documents do no good if they are not communicated and understood well by the process owners; they are merely documents lying on our systems and drawers just as a feel good factor.

One of the experiments that we at CIIE.CO ran successfully was to bring in folks from different teams together to help us identify the possible challenges that we may face as an outcome of prolonged remote working requirements in the future and build a ‘Remote Working Protocol’ for our team. With this, we ensured that we tested all the possible challenges first hand ourselves along with our team members who would be facing this situation. In the process, we also created the process note that was an outcome of a team effort and not just the management and the HR function.

d. Over-communicate with teams — both, for work and otherwise. While we are physically away from our teams, it is even more critical for us to put in additional effort to stay connected so that we don’t lose the pulse of our folks. Remember to not underestimate the power of e-Coffee / e-Chai conversations — they can do wonders — whether in inspiring us with better ideas or just lifting up our mood. Just to ensure that we don’t miss out on these small but important communication points, we at CIIE.CO have mutually agreed upon basic daily communication routine. We also have a team connect link that is always accessible to every team member during office hours and have a virtual office set up!

Let’s not panic and be aware!

While we hope that Coronavirus does not impact us as much; we are also worried. And, that is because we are uncertain and afraid of the situation and the future repercussions it holds. Having said that, can we also ensure that we don’t give in to the panic and act in ignorance? As responsible employers and citizens, we must ensure that we follow these basic hygiene behaviours:

1. Identify reliable sources of information:

a. While it is extremely critical for us to consistently seek information and keep ourselves updated of the current situation, we must also be cognizant of the fact that in the digital world that we live in today, there is enough and more information available out there. Reliable sources of information that can be trusted upon are handful. Read through websites and articles by WHO, CDC, ICMR, NSCD, AIIMS, etc.

b. Also, identify the unreliable sources and share those with the teams. A good myth buster publication is BOOM LIVE. Maintain sanity checks.

c. Every time we are presented with new information — we must ensure that we do our due diligence on the authenticity of the information before blindly passing it on to others. Refer to reputable journals and experts from the field for any information or advice.

2. Be prepared — but NOT irresponsibly.

a. While we prepare ourselves and our teams to operate remotely and to be safe — it is a normal human tendency for everyone to start stocking up. However, the key here is to keep ourselves ‘adequately’ stocked up and NOT succumb to hoarding. Let’s not forget that to stop coronavirus from spreading, we need other people to wash their hands too. It would be nice to leave a few bottles of sanitizers on the shelves.

b. While creating awareness, it would be wise to understand that coronavirus has a higher fatality rate in aged people; the young need to take care of themselves as well as assume responsibility for the old.

c. A pragmatic thinker knows that in case of city-wide lockdowns, generally speaking, medicine supplies & essentials will be provided for, albeit, that should not deter us from stocking adequately.

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