With best practices in place and team members given absolute freedom to connect as needed, productivity has either stayed constant or even increased in the 7 months since the COVID-19 explosion, with no reports of burn out, which seems self-evident.
Under the leadership of Biju Rajesh, Head - Delivery and Operations, the team has developed and implemented software for tracking the daily work management, goal setting process and review mechanism to ensure smooth delivery. "We are now working on improving the software to track early warning of projects and building a sort of 'own your career program'," says Biju.
Manju is Nallas’ first BA who just happens to be a woman. She joined the company in January 2020 with little inclination of the challenges ahead. Hailing from a town 2.5 hours from Coimbatore, she rented an apartment within walking distance of Nallas. Just before the COVID lockdown her parents came to visit, unaware they would get stuck. Manju ended up spending more time with her parents than ever before in her adult life.
"Nallas is a trendsetter," Manju claims. "As soon as pandemic status was announced, the company allowed people to work from home without hesitation." With 11 team members under her charge Manju swiftly sent them back to their home towns even though she anticipated connectivity issues in the more remote areas. She stayed on in Coimbatore for 3 months to ensure project continuity and seamless client communication.
Despite the challenging times, Manju claims her team members went the extra mile to ensure deadlines were met and deliverables produced. "There was such a boost in productivity. I didn’t have to encourage my team, they encouraged me and productivity shot up," Manju reports.
Working on a project for an insurance client, Manju’s daily contact with her scattered team and her evening client calls proved a smooth transition. She was able to assure the client there would be no roadblocks and within 10 days of remote operations, the US-based client was pleasantly convinced.
In Manju’s case the downside to Corona restrictions was the mundane business of getting daily groceries and running errands that proved irksome, since like everyone else she was restricted to the government imposed schedule for leaving the house. With elderly parents at home, team and client conference calls throughout the day and generally needing to be "available" to the team, it was a bit of a juggling act, but she managed to fit in her errands without disturbances to the work flow.
Currently a QA Lead, Agathiyan took a two- year break from IT to study agriculture before joining Nallas in Sep 2019. Working in the Coimbatore office meant renting a house in the city, since his native home is 300 km away. The outbreak of COVID-19 and Nallas’ proactive work from home policy meant a welcome return to his hometown, family, and much appreciated home-cooked food. It was also a considerable savings when he gave up his city house.
The other pros include the relaxed work environment and flexible working hours, the ability to spend more time with the kids and help with their home-based education, being able to take regular breaks walking around the garden where he grows teak and sandalwood trees and cultivates a vegetable patch. "This down time is a bonus to us and I’m grateful and thankful for this opportunity to work from home," Agathiyan states.
The disadvantages are almost negligible – the noise of the children and the hens clucking in the background during conference calls, which simply means turning on mute." Network connectivity, a potential issue for those working from home, is not a concern for Agathiyan. He says, "I use a geo router and have a standby router as well, so I have adapted myself well to this environment. This is the new normal and it looks like there’ll be more work from home options – it’s more convenient and user friendly."
According to Agathiyan, Nallas started the work from home approach much earlier than other companies in Coimbatore. "Nallas is also one step ahead in multiple areas like issuing only laptops to staff and even to interns. This helped to swiftly implement work from home situations while most companies were struggling to migrate from desktop to laptop. We also have a new policy calling for employees to invest in broadband connections with the company providing monthly billing assistance," Agathiyan states.
As we question the future of corporate work patterns, particularly in the IT sector, many are having to accept that remote work, enabled by the superior level of connectivity we know and take for granted, has brought about this tipping point.
It’s 2020 after all, and the future is already here.
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