By S Sriram, Chief Strategy Officer, iValue InfoSolutions
The 1st wave caught everyone by surprise, especially the IT fraternity, busy with their year-end business during March’20. The national lockdown that followed with little heads-up, challenged business continuity for many businesses with only home/remote working as an option. Majority of the established firms though had work from home models in place but were not ready for the entire organisation in this mode. Also, many of the large firms did not visualise the WFA model for many of the non-field / internal roles, which was a challenge, as they were not digitized. Most of the mid to small firms with low IT adoption had to face challenges both on the sales and cash flow front, without remote working option. The timing could not have been any worse, with year-end for most business and exams for many school children.
The challenges between 1st and 2nd waves were very different from all perspectives. During the 1st, iValue took a conscious decision to put employee ahead of any other priority, purely because this was a once in a lifetime calamity. For an emotionally attached iValue family, the wellbeing of its team was of paramount importance around physical, emotional and psychological needs, day after day. Our 3X market growth performance since inception did give us the confidence to bounce back strongly on the business front, once Employees are taken care of. Thanks to employee 1st mind-set, iValue posted 8X market growth rates for FY21 which amply proves that when the organisation takes care of employee wellness need, they really take care of the organisation performance handsomely, even in toughest environment. The Q1 of FY22 was the best ever for iValue again, when half the quarter was lost in battling 2nd wave of Covid and yet again Team Unstoppable at iValue did not allow 1st and 2nd wave of Pandemic to deter them from registering 8X market growth and best ever Q1 in our history!
Thankfully, phase 1 was more about enabling WFA by ensuring everyone had a laptop, UPS, safe endpoints with DLP / regular data backup and secure connectivity with multi-level authentication to our hybrid clouds, hosting ERP, CRM, HRMS, PMS and business analytics.
The WFA architecture was in place already and hence only the missing devices need to be arranged for all. We also utilised the time for enhancing the capabilities of each of our employees covering technical and soft skills, since cybersecurity is a fast-evolving field and we had added quite a few niche and compelling offerings to solution and services portfolio. We also focused around wellness for the whole family, with regular engagements beyond work covering physical, mental and psychological areas, to stay ahead of the threat. There was constant positive communication and reinforcement around investing in growth, adding new talent, expanding to new geographies, sharing positive news to keep the spirits high and possible concerns at bay.
Both the Line manager and HR reached out to every individual to understand specific needs so that everyone stayed positive, motivated, aligned and assured. IT investments over the years and placing employee needs as topmost priority ensured we grew handsomely during FY21 also at 8X market growth rates, indicating our belief that when an organisation prioritises its employees, employees go all out and take care of our stakeholders to grow the business. Post relaxation of lockdown, we also opened our offices across the country to enable employees having challenge at home to come to the office whenever they wished, though only in small numbers. In hindsight, it was more about staying safe and working from home with rare cases of impact due to C19, with near and dear ones during 1st wave.
The real challenge was during the 2nd wave, again during the Q4 peak business period for the IT sector. The rate of infection was so fast that it took everyone by surprise and no country has the medical infrastructure to manage such huge cases within such short times – 4 times that of 1st wave. This time we saw many of our industry colleagues, co-residents, friends and relatives impacted with some unfortunate loss of lives too. It was indeed a challenge on all fronts from getting a hospital bed to availability of medicines to quarantine challenge at home for multiple family members.
Life insurance and hospitalisation cover were already in place. We further enhanced it for Covid cover so that limits for other ailments do not get exhausted. We also signed up for doctor e-consultation and if required hospitalisation option with a leading hospital chain. Considering the alarming situation all across the country, we created a location Covid task force to closely monitor the situation at respective locations to extend immediate support. Even a voluntary cross-location & cross-functional team was formed to orchestrate timely help for anyone known to any of us. We further invested in lifesaving Oxygen cylinder and Concentrator at our regional offices, for emergency needs across the ecosystem. Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai tied up with Covid rehabilitation centres, to help our employees, partners and OEM families requiring support beyond Home Quarantine. This task force worked tirelessly during April and May, to rise to every need and address it in the best possible way which was very satisfying. The team worked hard and ensured to organize bed at the hospitals for all the needy through insurance partner and timely checking the health and wellness of the affected employees continuously. Many of the volunteers from the task force team went across multiple hospitals to collate bed availability and leveraged every possible connection to deliver help in a timely manner. Some of them dared to accompany the parents of colleagues who got infected, with colleagues already hospitalised. To keep us safe and prepared from future risk the team initiated the covid vaccination program, which has been rolled out starting from our Bengaluru location.
From a feeling of anxiety and helplessness to jointly working to address the needs of known impacted people, it was a transformation in days. The satisfaction of making a difference in such critical times kept the motivation levels very high with increasing members joining the task force. For many weeks during April and May’21, the only priority was to support the affected in all possible ways, for most in the company. The intent was to keep our team spirit up and resilient through various initiatives to stay strong and sail through this Covid-19 pandemic.
Looking back, focusing on the employee 1st approach during 1st wave, motivated many employees to risk their lives and make a difference to all who were impacted across family, industry colleagues and larger community during 2nd wave. It was a privilege to be part of this group of volunteers with so many inspirational deeds which are lifelong memories at a critical time. As the popular saying goes ‘tough times does not last long, but tough people do’, which was proved yet again to counter wave 2. Team Unstoppable at iValue yet again rose to the occasion to ensure 2nd wave impact is minimised to near and dear ones across the industry. We are hopeful that the worst is behind us and look forward to better times for all – Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu!