When the COVID crisis hit suddenly. All offices and manufacturing units went into lockdown. All work stopped and strict curfew was implemented. We are a technology Company and we had a graded response plan to be executed in case of such emergencies. We implemented it meticulously and everyone at all our locations NOIDA, Hyderabad, Mysore & Bangalore, had moved to work from home. While, initially there was some teething trouble our IT team was provide access to every individual working across multiple locations, within a matter of One Day, and it was a big relief and excitement about”working from home”. The Freedom of not needing to commute from home to Office and back in a cab albeit spending 5 hours, and flexible working hours, more precious time with family. The initial reaction was one of acceptance, and in fact more energy in working from home. Working from home could happen with businesses that were completely digital.
The manufacturing companies and sectors where it was needed to have people go to offices or factories took a sudden hit, and went into a longish pause over the extended lockdown periods. It was about tottering businesses, and tottering livelihoods for people who had a high dependance on going to work. We are all aware of the sad incidents that followed, migrant labor crisis etc., which we watched helplessly.
People and governments have displayed courage, in spite of the spate of challenges, and anxiousness due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. With no cure or Vaccination in sight we all live in hope.
Educational Institutions were closed and remain closed, with no certainty of when they will reopen. Even as our children in schools and colleges await to reopen.
As countries and certain regions in the countries started to relax the lockdowns, Community and individual self-discipline is key to survive and thrive in the pandemic situation. Most experts have said we have to prepare for a new normal of wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands properly etc.
While during the Lockdown, enforcement in most places were strict, and we did not see a surge in infections and fatalities. Post lockdown, Are we adhering to the norms strictly? Inter-state borders opened up, inter-district borders opened up and public transport also opened up partially. It meant no containment of the virus. The spread is peaking and the fatalities are also going up.
We have learned the hard way that we did not respect public hygiene and personal hygiene. We took everything for granted, and have abused nature for several decades. Is this pandemic about correction of how life should be conducted – a lesson by Mother Earth? Definitely time to introspect, learn and unlearn. Even to start the curve of flattening of the pandemic needs self-discipline and good governance.
We have to reimagine education, business, travel, social living, and life itself! It is said the persons of older age group, young children, and individuals with co-morbidities are more vulnerable. Can we change that now? What we were when we COVID hit, is what we are today.
Post relaxations of the lockdown – essentially for economic reasons, people are going back to work, and essential travel etc,. In businesses that were purely Digital and Online, transitioning to “work from home” was easy and also ensured business continuity. On relaxation of the Lockdown, the option of “work from home” is still preferred where possible. There is a reluctance of going back to work in offices, in view of the risk perception. Online meetings are a good substitute in COVID lockdown type of situations, but may not be as effective as face to face meetings, particularly if it involves issue resolution, conflict resolution, handling escalations, troubleshooting etc. I have realised that what can be done in one quickly convened meeting of One hour could take several conference calls and couple of days to resolve. However, thats not going to happen soon since everyone is worried about the risks.
It is a strange new world that will be called the new normal! It will be uncertainties unbounded.
Let us get used to it.