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Lockdown Lessons: Nothing is permanent, change is inevitable - Sharad Alwe

Sharad Alwe
Sharad Alwe

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.

Sharad Alwe, Co-Founder & MD, Update Geotarget,

What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?

This is an unprecedented situation that we are facing, while we were hearing rumours about a potential health threat in December’19 – January ’20, no one could have predicted the devastating effect this crisis has wrought on our lives, both professional and personal. We are living with constant insecurity about our own and our near one’s health, our finances and our professional lives. The key takeaways from this crisis have been:

  1. Adapt or Playing to the situation - “Rejig”, Nothing is permanent, change is inevitable and it may not always be in our favour. However, the odds aren’t permanent as well.
  2. Potential Leaders - clear demarcation of ‘individuals who take sense of ownership’

If we understand and appreciate the role we play as individuals and as a team, and fulfil our individual responsibilities, we can move all the spokes of the wheel in seamless coordination. I got my potential leaders due to this pandemic.

  1. Professionalism at its peak - When nothing works the best option is to put your head down and ride through the situation. There is light at the end of every tunnel.
  2. Introspect & Reboot - We don’t get regular time for this in normal day to day life. If one learns to play to his/ her strengths, there’s opportunity even in crisis.
  3. Clear & Consistent Communication is a key functional element in these ambiguous times. As a leader I made sure that there was consistent flow of communication with my team, so that we bond well in these tough times and stay connected towards the company.

Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?

One thing that this lockdown period has shown us is the fragility of the cocoon of comfort and safety that we as humans build around us. We take for granted certain fundamentals like our health and that of our near and dear ones. We ignore our work/ life balance, engross ourselves in our profession, spend hours commuting or travelling for work. We take for granted many individuals who are part of our life fleetingly, but play certain roles that make our lives comfortable.

One thing that this crisis has shown us is the gaping disparity between the Haves and Have Nots. It has also shaken us awake to relook our work /life balance, to invest time in relationships that matter. To open our eyes to the difficulties faced by people who strive to make our indulgences possible. It has presented us with an opportunity where panic and fury have no place, nor does a ‘wait and watch’ mode help. Self-control, patience and resilience will give us strength and enable us to survive and thrive.

How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?

We have cribbed about work-life balance all our lives, and now seemingly, we have all the time in the world to spend with our families and children. But do we really?

Work and Life have become synonyms over the last 60 days.

We are forced to remain distant, yet connected.

So, it’s left with what exactly you need to indulge in and what drives you on.

Like I have fixed time for my personal activities like early morning yoga meditation, evening walks and spending time for myself and engage in my thoughts. Healthy mind is very critical for businessmen and especially during these tough times.

Being a music and ghazal lover, over the weekends, organised Live Music session with my family, peer groups and dear ones to revisit my interest and past time.

On the work front, I followed key things:

  • Economic theory of “need” based over “want” based

Pandemic has forced us to take tough ‘need based’ decisions considering for future hindsight of the company

  • Chalked out a proper routine or work plan and ensuring sticking to it

Revisiting the sales call-ins and projections with my HODs with weekly review to understand the market dynamics. Focused and strategic targeting ensured efficient and qualitative pitch and got us some exciting new big client conversions

  • Ensuring appropriate short breaks in the given routine to remain focused & productive

As there is no elaborate lunch break or coffee break or leisure time in the new workplace, we call ‘our homes’.

  • Regular formal & informal conversation with your work colleagues or business contacts.

Top 2 things on my mind for my team were Self-development and Regular Conversations

We had our set of Zoom Webinar or Google Hangout calls formal & informal to ensure positive vibe is maintained across colleagues. These webinars had an interesting mix of topics, primarily catering around the self-development of team and keeping them bonded. Personally, threw fun challenges at my colleagues like, who can do maximum dips, ayurvedic tips of immunity boosters, etc...

  • And to sum it up was to have a “right mindset”, which led to right expectation and thereby didn’t impact my own & colleagues’ well being in these pandemic times

It has been more than two months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?

Even if business revenue matters, the need of the hour is to follow the necessary protocols which are critical for longer run. Taking all government protocols into consideration and in consensus with our HODs, we started our offices across 4 metros last week with limited strength.

We have got some exciting new talent on board for whom the induction was done in first week itself, so that they are geared up for action mode and for any situation.

Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?

Revenue was impacted big time in the last 2 months, but we had to plan ahead to next 6 months knowing that this is going to be a “new normal” and it is here to stay.

We had clear communication across all our employees, vendors and clients to get clarity on working pattern ahead.

Client budget cuts, our business revenue projections, vendor payments all had to be relooked for a realistic 2020 turn around as we have a big festive 6 months lined up in latter half.

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