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 Their daily schedules have been disrupted and their long drawn out usual meetings have been replaced by video calls.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 Keki Mistry, Vice-Chairman and CEO, Housing Development Corporation Bank (HDFC).
You can read other editions of Virtual Leaders here.
Q: How does your average work from home day look like in the lockdown period?
A: My average day is as packed as before. Physical meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings. I have calls on strategy, operations, HR, and then we have global investor calls at various time zones. The time I save traveling to the office has by and large been taken by calls through the day.Q: What is the profile of your work from home? What takes the most time?
A: Primarily, it is about strategy. This has been an unprecedented challenge. We have various groups to engage with during the day. We have created a special new initiatives team which looks at a greater degree of digitisation. This is an altogether new scenario. This is a new style of working. There are more investor calls to attend than during the pre-COVID-19 era – not necessarily about the company - but about the overall business sentiment.Q: Do you get to spend more time with the family?
A: Yes, I have not stayed home for such a long time. I get to spend more time with my family. I have daily morning tea with my family and spend time with the family over dinner. On Sundays, there is a greater window to spend time with family. I get to spend about 30 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening with the family during weekdays.Q: There is no air travel now? How does it feel?
A: There has been no travel for some time now. I used to travel quite a lot during pre-COVID-19 times. Earlier, on an average, it (travel) used to take up to about 10 to 12 days of a month. I am completely at home now. There is obviously more time at hand.Q: How do you see the Corner Office change in the COVID-19 era?
A: There are new ways to work that we have learnt. One has to go back (as and when the lockdown is lifted) to work and see what best to take and endure from the work from home experience.Q: What is a key management lesson you would draw from the work from home syndrome?
A: Key management lesson is that we have to be prepared for every kind of contingency. I have seen many upturns and downturns in my professional career. Obviously, what is happening now is unprecedented. There is learning. From August of 2008 and continued up to 2009, there was a downturn. But, from May 2009, the business started to grow and markets were up and up to March 2010 we had a boom period, like we had never seen before. In my view, once COVID-19 is over, a similar thing would happen.
Let us hope and pray that, once COVID-19 is over (end April or end May or whenever), we get down to normalcy. It may take a couple of quarters or three quarters to settle down, but we will experience that the pent-up demand that got created due to the crisis will ultimately unfurl. We have seen that in every crisis. I presume and believe in the current crisis something similar will happen.