Bhargava said he is enjoying working from home and that his work load has actually increased due to the lockdown
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 Their daily schedules have been disrupted and their long drawn out usual meetings have been replaced by video calls.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 Rakesh Khar spoke to Maruti Chairman RC Bhargava.
You can read other editions of Virtual Leaders here.
A: Personally, there is not much of a difference. I have been as busy at home as ever. I am not bored. I am enjoying it. The only difference is that the review meetings that I used to do from office have been replaced by home video conferences. In view of the lockdown, the work from home has actually increased.Q: How is that?
A: We are trying to shift gears to produce ventilators and person protection equipment (PPE) to aid the nation in the ongoing health emergency. This is being executed through our vendors. But it has taken a lot of time is securing the requisite clearances to set up a new product line. The ventilator vendor used to produce 300 to 400 pieces a year and now we hope to do around 400 pieces a day. Similarly, for manufacturing PPEs, we are currently in the process of setting up the protocol. We have the manpower and our seat producing vendors are adapting themselves to prescribed standards for PPE manufacture.Q: How do you see the corner office in times of COVID-19 and beyond?
A: To some extent, we will have to go back to the old system. But the lockdown has shown us a new way to conduct business. Even if we are in office, we will connect for meetings more and more virtually. Data capability will, of course, be a key factor. There is an industry skew as well, work from home syndrome is more efficient perhaps for ITIS and ITES business verticals. A company like Maruti has lesser scope for work from home syndrome. Yes, our materials, finance, and HR verticals - to some extent - can transact business digitally but production has to stay invested in the factory premises.Q: Now that you are working from home, have you been able to connect with friends, acquaintances that you had not spoken for long?
A: I have been an early practitioner of work from home. My day is choker block full of calls, video conferences, and review presentations. I have not necessarily been indulging in any free time. My movie time has not increased either.Q: How has the family taken to you being home for such a long time?
A: My wife, who used to have her own work schedule outside of the home, is now at home. In that sense, we do get to spend more time together.Q: Technology adaptation is a key challenge while working from home. What are your preferred tools to stay connected?
A: I have over the past few weeks used a variety of tools. All of them are good. It is as good as meeting the individual in person. The only challenge is the bandwidth. There is need to ramp it up to sustain the quality of signal.Q: What is one big piece of management learning you have gained during the work from home?A: There is phenomenal learning in terms of saving management time, saving costs and improving efficiency, leading to better productivity. For example, if I have a meeting to attend in Mumbai, it takes away two days. Now with the demonstrated audio video capability to connect, meetings can be done in real time. This will cut down heavily on travel and lodging costs.