The lockdown triggered by the spread of the coronavirus has entered into the third phase and entrepreneurs, the original hustlers, have had to make a plenty of changes to their daily routine to adapt to working from home (WFH). Their daily schedules have been disrupted and their long drawn out usual meetings have been replaced by video calls. Not to mention the stress of a looming economic slowdown and pressure from investors.
Moneycontrol looks at how a scrum of business leaders is dealing with these fast changing times. In today’s edition of Virtual Leaders, Network 18’s Rakesh Khar spoke to Anshu Budhraja, CEO - Amway India.
You can read other editions of Virtual Leaders here.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: Lockdown 4.0 is in operation. The lockdown enforced work from home syndrome has changed the way we do business. What has been your personal and professional experience?
A: I believe that while we are working from home, we need to respect our home environment and our families. At home we don’t define spaces, unlike our workspaces and the key is to blend in. By blending in I mean home should never be turned into an office. My approach is to go with the flow by contributing and harmonising in this environment.
As a fundamental optimist, I make the most of the circumstances, whatever they are. Work and home are not two sides of the same coin. If work provides you purpose, and you are passionate about it, then being at home enhances your creativity and connectivity. I believe that more than challenges, the opportunity is for us to be more self-reliant. Agility is how we should work from home and be mindful of the shared resources, especially in these trying times. I plan my day in a way that I can get the most work done early in the morning if it is over email, and then walk around the house while taking calls during the day.
Q: Technology has been a savior in Covid times helping in a big way to stay connected. But adoption has not always been uniform and smooth. What role has technology played in ensuring smooth working from home?
A: I believe that virtual communication is the future, and the world will move in this direction even after this situation passes. All key engagements need to be visual, and the rest can be over simple calls depending on the criticality of the topics and number of people.
We quickly accelerated the adoption of digital technology into our work-from-home model. All employee communication and engagement activities are happening over Microsoft Teams, so are our training for all direct sellers.
We have created a digital workspace over Teams where everyone can share their stories of being at home. So, in between work, it is also great to hear and see colleagues talk and share everything, from recipes to multilingual songs and other artistic pursuits. It has also encouraged me to explore my own passion for yoga and world history.
Q: Looks like the virus is here to stay. What scope do you see for work from home proposition going forward for your business vertical?
A: At Amway, we continue to prioritize the safety of our employees while ensuring business continuity to maintain operational readiness. We are aligned with the Indian Government guidelines and are embracing the new normal. In line with this, we have extended work from home till 31st July, for all Amway India employees.
We have also built a ‘Normalcy Restoration Plan’ which captures the new normal for the workplace once as and when we resume work from office in a phased manner. We have taken significant measures for work management and constant learning while ensuring optimum engagement and flow of information. With initiatives such as ‘Work by Design’ – flexibility while remote working, fun@work virtual engagement programs, recognition as per earlier plans, regular virtual town halls and last but not the least, regular employee surveys and feedback, we continue to work towards achieving remote-working readiness. As I said, technology has allowed us to connect with our teams across region and work seamlessly.
Q: Now that you re home, has the lockdown given you an opportunity to spend more time with your friends and family?
A: Yes, I have been spending more time with my family. I play Ludo online with my kids on the Ludo King app. We’re creating our digital playhouse and going back to the roots. Imagine!
As productivity increases while working from home, I have been learning new ways to integrate work with personal responsibilities such as home chores, supporting kids, gardening, cleaning, and even making coffee.
I ensure that I walk a minimum of 15,000 steps a day. I also do 30 minutes of yoga and listen to a few spiritual podcasts.
It is a humbling experience to do yourself the things you take for granted. It teaches you respect and humility.
Q: Do you miss the pre-COVID pushing schedules, travel, physical meetings and one on one face to face interactions?
A: We all want the world to come back to the level of normal economic activity. But at the same time, it brings me joy to see nature healing. I am a people’s person and while I do miss the energy of our in-person team meetings but at the same time safety of our employees is of utmost importance for us.
Q: What is your Covid business leadership lesson?
A: These times have taught us that people create and build the business and not vice-versa. It makes me proud to see the unwavering passion and zeal for work. Their resilience, dedication and adaptability has enabled us to forge ahead towards our shared purpose of helping people live better, healthier lives.