Lockdown Lessons: “A valuable lesson in the power of compassionate leadership”
India is emerging out of an over two-month long lockdown – a period that has changed our lives, behaviours and the way we conduct business forever. The lessons that we have learnt during the lockdown period and our experiences during the year so far, will help us navigate a world that we had never imagined. It has been a trying time for many of us, with everyone working from home and having to adapt to a new way of working and living. Adgully’s latest endeavour – Lockdown Lessons – is an attempt to present the key learnings that India’s business honchos have learnt and imbibed, and which can help the industry navigate the new normal better.
In an interaction with Adgully, Shivaram Lakshminarayan, Senior Director, Enterprise Technology, Genesis BCW, speaks about successfully strategising for the WFH mode, the power of compassionate leadership, achieving work-life balance and more.
What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?
The pandemic has brought a seismic shift in the way we function and the lockdown threw up several challenges like shifting to a 100% work-from-home (WFH) model in a matter of days. While we already had an existing work-from-home policy to offer employees the flexibility to balance their work and family commitments, it was great learning to strategise and implemented a sustainable model of WFH. The lockdown has made me realise that employees can be highly productive working from home with the right tools available to them.
In addition to the tools, another key aspect was putting employee health first – be it physical or mental wellbeing. For business continuity, we needed to support our people during this critical time – from regular communication to ensuring every team member’s concerns are heard and addressed. The lockdown provided a valuable lesson in the power of compassionate leadership in building employee trust.
Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?
The lockdown brought in many different aspects and priorities to individuals. For instance, many, including me, found time to concentrate on a regularised physical regime. We cleared out things that were being postponed for a while. We also explored new hobbies like cooking, gardening, etc., and found time and value during these times. What were earlier year-end connects with friends have now turned into fortnightly and some even weekly.
How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?
Maintaining a work-life balance is critical to our wellbeing and productivity. Working in an office setup with fixed timings made that easier for most of us. However, prolonged WFH due to the lockdown has disrupted that entire structure. Many of us initially ended up working longer hours, while trying to figure out how to operate in this working model. I made a concerted effort to take a few important steps that helped me achieve a good work-life balance. First was to keep to my regular work schedule (as much as possible), which included the start and stop timing, taking short tea/coffee breaks (which I would normally do in the office), an hour-long lunch break to eat with my family and completely focussing on my personal life when not working. With blurring lines between personal and professional life, this regimented approach helped me immensely. Secondly, taking a day off or two from work just to give myself a break from the monotony was very beneficial. I used this time to catch up on my hobbies and declutter my mind. Finally, I allocated myself a separate work space in my home to give me the privacy and quiet needed to concentrate on my work without distractions.
It has been more than two months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?
Getting back to office in the new normal will be challenging for many of us. Apprehensions about safety, adapting to new processes and timelines (as everything will probably take longer due to social distancing norms) will be top of mind for everyone to deal with. Having said that, careful planning and adhering to regulatory guidelines will be critical to resuming operations safely and alleviating many of the apprehensions. Health and safety will continue to be a priority during this unlocking phase. Given the new normal, focus will be upon catching up on deliverables and outcomes.
Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?
A lot of not-so-important expenses, including shopping, eating out, movies and more took a back seat during this period. Focus on healthy living got prioritised. Helping local communities to sustain themselves during this difficult time became part of our financial agenda.