Virtual Leaders I Working remotely is the new normal: Instamojo’s Sampad Swain

Sampad Swain is the cofounder of Instamojo - which offers a payments and commerce platform for micro and small businesses selling products online.

April 13, 2020 / 12:40 PM IST

The 21-day lockdown triggered by the spread of the coronavirus has entered into the last 10 days 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 Their daily schedules have been disrupted and their long drawn out usual meetings have been replaced by video calls.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 Pratik Bhakta spoke to Sampad Swain, the cofounder of Instamojo - which offers a payments and commerce platform for micro and small businesses selling products online.

You can read other editions of Virtual Leaders here.

virtual leaders

Edited excerpts from the interview:


Q: What does your average day look like now given your normal routine must have been disrupted by the 21-day lockdown?

A: My average pre-lockdown day used to be five to six hours of face-to-face meetings which has now been replaced by Zoom or Google Meet. The current situation demands constant touch with the team and hence major part of the day is spent over phone calls or video calls. Another significant change is the increased screen time, at office we would often meet over tea and keep laptops away, whereas, now meetings are done only over screens.

Q: How are you driving your team members during this time of crisis? Could you share some unique experiences that you have had during these days of the lockdown while dealing with your teams/colleagues or investors.

A: Teams have been doing great in terms of keeping up to the deadlines and we see no drop in productivity at all. We all are constantly in touch with each other via Slack, messages, calls etc. Also, we have started doing town halls every week, just to catch up with each other and share work related updates.

We have extended the option for anyone in the company to call us directly and even discuss issues apart from work. In addition to this, one of our employees, who is also a fitness enthusiast, has started taking online workout sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6pm-7pm. A group of colleagues are also actively conducting board games over Zoom calls. It is amazing how people are trying to help each other cope with the situation.

Q: Have you found some means to e-socialise with your teams outside work, given all of your colleagues might be remote?

A: We connect over Zoom calls, Skype, or Slack. We are more than available and I believe this is the time to over communicate. It is important to let your employees know that we are in this together and nobody needs to deal with situations all by themselves.

Q: Have you always had a separate workstation at home or did you set that up because of the lockdown? Can you share with us how have you set it up?

A: Well, I did not have a dedicated workstation at home earlier. Never imagined we would have to work remotely for so many days at a stretch. In fact, even now I have not set up a specific workstation. I prefer to move around and find comfortable spots instead of getting glued to one place for the whole day. This also gives a chance for some moving around.

Q: Was there a hobby that you had given up because of work pressure but you have been able to resume now over the last two weeks?

A: I have always been an avid book reader which I never gave up and I continue to read even now. Apart from that I am interested in sports but due to the lockdown it has stopped completely. I am a big Manchester United fan.

Q: You have been active on Twitter. How has your engagement with social media changed over the last two weeks?

A: I have been a Twitter person for a long time now. In fact Twitter and LinkedIn are the only two social media platforms which I use extensively. Feel it helps me to communicate to the outer world better. Prior to the lockdown, I used to tweet mainly about industry developments, sometimes even conducting Twitter polls. Over the past two weeks, I have been actively tweeting about Instamojo specific initiatives towards helping business owners in these uncertain times and obviously expressing my personal views on the current situation and sharing tit bits around managing working from home.

Q: What is that one major piece of management learning that you have gained during this forced lockdown?

A: Working remotely is the new normal and I feel this will continue to remain so. One thing I have learned is to have transparency and if need be over communicate with your employees in times of distress.
Pratik Bhakta
first published: Apr 10, 2020 01:09 pm

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