Responding to the pandemic as a team: Inspiring story shared by Mr Manjunatha KG (Founder & CEO, Kenscio) at DMA Breakfast Briefings
The world has changed dramatically due to Covid-19. As we have been watching COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on families, communities and our businesses, our colleagues across India and the United States were left with only questions for no answers: What to do? What is next? How long will it take? and so on… Soon we knew that this pandemic cannot be defeated without accepting shared sacrifices and embracing changes both in our personal and professional lives.
I never thought of sharing this emotional story with anyone until I was talking at the DMA Breakfast Briefings at Hotel Lemon Tree Premier, Bangalore. I wanted to tell the world how Kenscio fought against COVID19 together as a team with zero covid cases at our workplace and met revenue goals despite all the challenges.
This deadly disease was reported from Wuhan in China in Nov/Dec 2019 and has spread to the entire world within a month. We all agree that COVID-19 is unlike any prior epidemics and crises. It has reached all the corners of the world, and it is the most devastating and has a brutal impact on the global economy and health systems. Unfortunately, it is not over yet.
Thanks to the Internet, news and media, we were able to track its progress. My wife and I were planning to visit our kids living in the US in mid-Feb 2019 flying through Hongkong. We were watching the situation very closely. Being married to a Doctor, I had an expert at home who was advising on the Pandemic. As Pandemic was spreading faster, we decided to cancel the trip.
On the business front, we were monitoring the situation very closely. Our business was usual till mid-March and we were visiting clients and prospects across India. We saw some of our clients already putting controls in place for screening the visitors and also restricting them from meeting their employees. We brought in similar practices to our workplace to make our employees safe in our workplace, with an open environment, frequent cleaning of open spaces, providing sanitisers, temperature checks, asking sick employees to stay at home, enabling employees with laptops/desktops and internet connectivity to work from home.
Being a Services Company, our employees are our greatest asset and we had to keep them safe and get them to work with the same efficiency from their homes. We had implemented work from home policy several years back for our mid and senior employees. Our challenge was to enable it to 100% of our workforce. Our IT folks worked with teams to identify employees who needed laptops/desktops, UPS and internet connections and even made transport arrangements to ship it to their home. There were challenges with power, internet connections at their homes across India. But our employees were able to get through these challenges by working from their friends/relatives homes and working as a team supporting each other. Today they have better infrastructure at their home to work as productive in the office. I believe this is going to be normal. I see it is a great benefit to our employees, cutting their travel time, staying where they are, reducing pollution, and crowding cities.
As we went into lockdown, we were expecting uncertainties in business as we couldn’t gauge the future. We had to make some harsh decisions to immediately cut down costs across all heads and save cash for business sustenance. We took our senior employees into confidence for salary cuts over the next 3 months. Senior employees took a higher-cut, while juniors took a smaller cut and we promised them that it would be paid back as situation eases. We received excellent support from our Employees. The cuts were reduced as the uncertainties reduced and original salaries were restored within 6 months. All the cuts were also paid back. Apart from that, we were also able to carry out our annual appraisal in October 2020.
We started monthly open house meetings over Hangouts, communicating on the pandemic situation, Business performance, asking how they are doing and addressing their issues & concerns. Luckily we didn’t get into a situation to let go of any employees during the lockdown.
Moving forward, we see that our employees will have the benefit of working either at home or the office. We will be investing in tools and technologies to make our employees efficient and productive.
We have many clients with whom we have been working over several years. As the Pandemic progressed necessitating countrywide lockdowns, our esteem clients across different verticals were impacted. Especially, Our clients in Travel, Airlines, Entertainment, Automobile, Real Estate and Retail Sectors were hit the hardest. They were the first to seek financial support. We had to empathize their situation and assist them in whatever best possible means, without hurting ourselves. We also requested our partners and vendors to support us with similar measures and we got their support.
On our business side, we created worst-case business forecasts and ran simulations if our revenues were impacted 25% or 50% below our forecasts and what actions we should take if we hit such a scenario. Luckily we managed to meet our business targets as planned month on month.
The pandemic situation also allowed us to find time and resources for prioritizing pending projects like our website revamp and completing our ISO 27000 audit.
Being agile to adapt, responding quickly to changing events and being comfortable with the changes, made us to safely navigate the tough period.
Covid19 also taught us some valuable life lessons:
- To spend time with family
- Giving a pause to global warming and nature to heal
- Doing our household chores ourselves
- Enhancing our skills during the lockdown
- Making Lifestyle changes
- Giving importance to health and hygiene
I hope we all come out stronger with the learnings and adapting them for a better future.