Article (May-2020)


Working in a comfort zone?

Editorial Team

Designation : -   Editorial

Organization : -  Business Manager HR Magazine


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For Rupendra, CEO of the 24x7 power solutions, a sales and service company of heavy power equipments, it was not unexpected. Rather It increased his confidence that what he was visualising few days back  became true with the announcement of country wide lock down due to COVID-19.

What was more worrying in this situation for him was that in spite of his repeated cautioning the functional heads, they were not able to prepare and put a proposed contingency plan before him as to how to manage different affairs seamlessly during adverse times. When corona cases started surfacing in the country, he was afraid of the possible worst coming on the way. Rupendra   proposed HR Head few days back about exploring the possibility of starting work from home and also making employees aware of staying safe and taking necessary precautions. But service head discouraged the idea of work from home citing many practical problems and reasons.

24x7 power solutions is the company, which deals with sales and service of power gen sets in NCR region, has ten outlets/offices employing around 300 people. Most of the teams comprising technicians and engineers remain in field for on the spot servicing of gen sets. Such teams are controlled by area supervisor who reports to particular service head of his region. Outlets/ offices of the company mainly contribute to service function but support sales of products also in case of enquiries. Most of the employees were commuting daily from their respective homes to their office/site. The work culture was that Service personnel many times were deputed to sites directly without reporting at their station and technicians /engineers in teams used to leave from their homes directly to site for attending complaints. All teams were given motorbikes by the company.

Rupendra immediately swung into action after listening announcement of lock down. Many thoughts were coming to his mind. There were multiple challenges before him. How to keep the team leaders intact and motivated at distant places? He sent SMS to check the possibility of  meeting all sales, service, HR, Spare parts heads either at his residence or corporate office  to get stock of situation and updates on all pending maters and how to handle them.

All agreed to meet at corporate office. Within next one hour all reached. Following was the conversation:

Rupendra:  So, how are you prepared to deal with from tomorrow? He looked at all heads.

HR Head: As per guidelines, our business should be under essential services, so we may be allowed to function during this period and that would be the real challenge.

Sales Head: We can think of closing down the sales function because of no sales prospects but continue service activities.

Service Head: It would not be out of risk to provide services because our people may come in touch of unknown people at sites. We should close the service also to stay safe.

Rupendra: I know the problems but I am looking for possible solutions. Closing down everything is very comfortable and easy solution. We can declare just now and all sit at home. Can't we take it as an opportunity out of this challenge and test our strengths by continuing minimum required service function and also keeping our people safe? We have to look at societal responsibility also. Our customers are residential societies, govt. and private hospitals, important Govt. offices, industries etc.

 HR Head: I will chalk out a possible working plan by tomorrow and share to all by mail and then we can gear up to implement.

 But others kept quiet.  Based on detailed discussions and feedback from different heads, Rupendra could conclude the following:

1- About 40 service personnel were in distant field areas deputed for service on complaint calls but were in short of parts and accessories and consumables so they were stuck up. Next day additional staff was to sent to provide them required items. But few of them left abruptly from sites in between without completing the service/repair.

2- Three teams were stuck up in Govt. hospitals for servicing/repairing on complaints and they were not allowed to move out.

3- Gensets ordered fifteen days back from the principal manufacturer for sale were in transit and not reached to the company site.

4- Parts and accessories as earlier planned on the basis of consumptions estimate were ordered but not revised, were also under transit and supposed to reach next day.

5- There was panic among employees as functional heads  started getting calls from them as to whether they should sit at home  and what will happen to their salary?

6- There were no efforts made by functional heads to shift required infrastructure for officers/employees to enable them to start work from home nor such people were identified.

7- Sales and service head were not very much interested and enthusiastic to take up the challenge and work in adverse conditions. They resisted all proposals and possibilities put forward for discussion either by him or HR head.

8- Employees were not made mentally prepared by functional heads to meet the challenges of servicing and neutralising the complaints.