Bhasin says corporate India will adopt the work-from-home practice in a more organised and process-driven format.
The nationwide lockdown triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus has been extended until May 3 and entrepreneurs, the original hustlers, have had to make 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 Their daily schedules have been disrupted and their long drawn out usual meetings have been replaced by video calls.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 Rakesh Khar spoke to Pramod Bhasin, former CEO, Genpact and chairman of online lending platform Clix Capital.
You can read other editions of Virtual Leaders here.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: Now we are talking about PC (Pre-COVID) and PC (Post-COVID) times! How has the work from home experience been in the lockdown period?
A: It is actually far more interesting times. I would for sure say that productivity has indeed gone up. Traditionally, we were not as engaged, as we are today. The whole unit is getting active. You are your natural self and you are in your natural habitat.
People are contributing more since they are neither disturbed nor distracted. I see family as a strength. The entire engagement is participative. There is a sense of ownership and entitlement. In a group video or audio chat, everyone can make his or her point. This is a great empowerment.
Actually work from home has facilitated the way people work with each other and one another. It is now more like a family where there is a natural empathy for each member. It is more personal and less official. Most importantly the work-life balance has got a new positive dimension. I see corporate India enthused by the results and adopt the practice in a more organised and process-driven format.
Q: What takes most of your time in terms of working from home? What is the topmost priority?
A: Organisational wellbeing – welfare of employees and their families. We are thinking of not just employees but about their families now in an organised way because of COVID. This has been the topmost priority.
The second priority is managing the crisis. It is remarkable to see the role technology has to play in our day-to-day lives. In COVID times, technology play is paramount, to ensure connectivity. The quality of audio and video with so many options has made a huge difference. With bandwidth possibly getting better, working from home should be the way of life. I have been a great votary of work from home right from the inception.
Brainstorm is a key challenge as well. Now that there is greater time to think rather than be just inundated by inputs. This is a great opportunity to think individually and collectively. How has the world changed around us and how do we change is the key question? Actually, this is a huge opportunity to reset, reload and reimagine ourselves.
Q: Given that there is ample time at hand, do you set to spend more time with your family and follow your hobby?
A: Yes, it has been a pleasure. A walk in the farm, photography, reading about photography, and cooking time has actually doubled during the lockdown. I am learning to read again. To my mind, best ideas don’t come sitting in an office from 9 to 5, they rather come when you are at a walk or having breakfast or having family dinner or just chatting up friends.
Q: Every crisis throws an opportunity. What line of business do you think will gain from COVID and the accompanying work-from-home reality?
A: All Online businesses will do very well. To my part, any business that rests on twin pillars of technology and knowledge management will excel. Accordingly, a section of BFSI sector must do as well. I see the work from home giving women GDP a big boost. I see experience getting a premium. I see talent available now beyond the realm of a physical boundary.
Online education, a global driver, will see huge traction in India. If we are able to significantly tweak the BPO and KPO verticals, we can embrace new cost-efficient models that improve the topline.
Q: What are the key leadership and management lessons from the COVID- induced work-from-home environment?
A: To my mind, there are quite a few significant lessons. Cost efficiency being the primary one. Going forward, there is also going to be an organised push for work from home. I believe this is the time for the chief executive or CEO to get bolder and think radically. We must be cautious but not be too much scared. We must remember that only when business picks will the economy come back on track. Business needs to pick up.There is an infinite capacity to improve everything. We could actually operate at a 50 per less cost across many business verticals but why does it take COVID to tell us that? Perhaps that is God’s way of telling us all who is the ultimate boss?