Lockdown Lessons: “Financial health is like the helm of a ship, steer it well”
The year 2020 has taught us several harsh lessons. Barely had we entered a new year with renewed hopes and expectations, when the global COVID-19 pandemic jolted all of us out of our comfortable ‘Normal’ zone and flung us into an uncertain world. Terms like lockdown, social distancing, quarantine, work from home, new normal, unprecedented times and the dreaded ‘R’ word – Recession – have become a part and parcel of our daily lives.
India is just emerging out of an over two-month 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. 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 conversation with Adgully, Tanay Kumar, Co-Founder, CEO & CCO, Fractal Ink Design Studio linked by Isobar, says how he sees this lockdown as an eye opener for all of us to finally see the power of digital connectivity. His mantra for achieving work-life balance while working from home is simple yet very practical and effective.
What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?
Lockdown came as a storm and slowly got settled with new norms around us. Businesses got impacted, lives got unsettled, hypothesis and opinions got floated around.
These are unprecedented times that have brought unprecedented measures to the table. Every measure – from cost saving through resource optimisation, job cuts, salary cuts – was aimed towards bringing normalcy around us. Initial times of lockdown almost craved for it. Comparisons were made, excel sheets got drawn up to build realistic targets and maintain operating margins.
But as we progressed deeper into the lockdown, we started seeing some settlement happening. I don’t know if I would like to term it as lessons learnt, but it definitely opened doors which were left unattended for long.
- We almost fast forwarded ourselves to the new norm of digital togetherness, way faster than we would have imagined.
- As a professional, I think we were more than ready to jump off the cliff, all the harnesses were in place, but still we were hesitant. This pandemic pushed us and suddenly we seem to be adapting to it quite fast.
- The fear of being non-productive at home got a bit erased both from employers’ and employees’ minds.
- Digital adoption for most businesses became a necessity and a boon. The reach and the growth in some sectors were phenomenal owing to the lockdown.
I see this lockdown as an eye opener for all of us to finally see the power of digital connectivity. While practising physical distancing, we got socially closer to each other globally which is proving to be a boon.
Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?
Reminds me of a famous song from Haddaway
‘Life will never be the same, life is changin’
Most of the times we get embedded in our life habits so much that we start ignoring the conveniences. This lockdown got me at least the value of valuing smaller things in life. From making your own bed to cooking and cleaning your habitat, all came to the forefront and suddenly the office work started looking easier.
The great thing about life is that it learns to live and find ways around. Some life lessons:
- On a lighter note there is a never a lull in domestic life. Office life can become boring and monotonous, but home life is ever full of challenges.
- Develop a hobby which allows you to spend time with yourself. It is important to have that one venting out mechanism that lets you forget the world around you
- Family needs to get more time and attention. There is so much catching up to do. So take a pause once in a while to reflect upon your relationships with people who love you and matter to you in life.
- Never ever underestimate the power of freedom. The lockdown has taught us to value the sheer freedom of stepping out and having a fresh breath of air
- Find your meditation technique. For some it is yoga/ working out, for some it is music, for some it is reading. It helps in waking up fresh every morning
How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?
There is no secret to work-life balance. It is just mere understanding among the people who you live with, which brings sanity around. Building a strict routine around your work and life helps switch off. Treat work hours slightly with more diligence. Once in a while switch off your Internet and try sitting around with a cup of coffee. Make your weekends count, make sure you wait for those fun Friday evenings to catch up with your friends on a Zoom call.
It has been more than two months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?
We still are contemplating the right time to make the shift. However, our first priority will be to keep people safe. We are looking at ways to reduce “crowding moments” that one many encounter. Initially, we will be looking at only a fraction of people who can travel through their personal transport to be in office. Subsequently we might be looking at private transport options as things ease out.
The offices have been going through regular cleansing from the start of the month and we will make sure this continues. The eating areas/ toilets/ meeting rooms will be put under strict control, wherein we will try to reduce contact. The aim is to ease in the back to office journey and see to it that the people who are attending office are comfortably entering their homes and societies without much risk.
Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?
No doubt there has been a hit on the financials and all businesses are under immense pressure to save costs and still deliver. Financial health is like the helm of a ship. It needs to be steered well to keep the boat from rocking. Few pointers:
- It is important to keep transparency with your core team so that there are no loose ends which might rock the boat
- Time and again keep a watch on your expenses and how to optimise those
- Growth of a company always relies on being bullish and optimistic. Never has any company grown by cutting down costs like salary and jobs. The need of the hour is quickly re-invent and build credibility with strong proof points in this new norm.
- Guard your most important asset, which in our case is people.
- Every company is going through the same journey so go out to your clients/ customers and help them reinvent by being fiercely proactive and not passive
- Look for battles which can be fought effectively without hurting sentiments. Money can be recovered, but positive sentiment is hard to build if you lose it.