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How Tech Startups Are Coping With the ‘New Normal’

new normal

The coronavirus pandemic has forced hundreds of employees across the world to work from home and Indian tech firms are no exception. Despite the governments relaxing lockdown restrictions, smaller tech firms in India are in no hurry to get back to office. They believe, as most of their work happens over the internet and with the help of online collaboration tools, work-from-home generally had no adverse impact on their productivity. While some are returning in phases, others are getting used to remote working, accepting it as the new normal.

CXOToday spoke to business leaders at some of the Indian tech startups who explain how they are coping with the ‘new normal’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they plan to do going forward.

Going slow and steady

Shiv Sundar, Co-Founder and COO, Esper, a cloud-based platform for managing mobile devices, said, “With our priority on employees’ health and well-being, we quickly switched to working remotely as a response to the Pandemic. While we are still largely working remotely, we return to the office only in phases.”

Currently, the firm maintains a limited, rotating schedule in place wherein our teams take turns to collaborate face-to-face on alternate weekdays. “We have strict guidelines in place to sanitize our office as well. We plan to maintain this balanced model of remote work and office hours until physical attendance is a completely safe option,” he said.

Sunny Nandwani, Founder and Managing Partner, Acuver Consulting too believes the company is in no rush to return employees to its workplace.

“The COVID-19 crisis has added new layers of unpredictability to all business operations. Businesses have to rethink every aspect of operations, and address possibly permanent shifts in multiple segments. In parallel to that, the persisting situation of the global health crisis is alarming and we all are getting used to the challenges. As a business, our first priority was and will always be employee safety. We proactively review the situation on an ongoing basis and take decisions accordingly,” he said.

For Jasal Shah, CEO & MD, Markelytics & Velocity MR, too, the primary concern at the moment is the wellbeing of our employees and our community. Being in the unlocking phase, the Bangalore-based market research company allowed a few employees to work from the office, whereas most of them continue to work remotely.

Speaking on the safety and wellbeing of employees, Gaurav Burman, APAC & Vice President, 75F, an IoT-Powered Building Management solution provider, added that the priority is to be able to give companies and their employees some peace of mind. “In uncertain times like this, to make work environments safe and healthy is extremely important and we believe, this will become the norm even when the outbreak is over,” said Burman.

Priyan DC, CEO, Star Squared PR said, “In order to cope with the situation, we have streamlined our processes to ensure our client work does not get affected. We also developed fresh protocols for reporting and brainstorming to ensure there is no dip in our creativity when it comes to client counsel. We used this opportunity to develop new training modules to keep the teams engaged, energized and motivated at all times.”

Priyan believes that the Pandemic has also taught everyone a lot of things including the fact that we are resilient and will adapt and succeed despite the odds.

“The new normal is hard to predict but will definitely include social distancing for a long time to come, along with flexible working hours factoring in a lot more work from home,” he said.

Boosting employee spirit

Tech companies are also playing a key role in boosting the health and well being of their workers as they work from remote locations. Abhishek Patil, Co-Founder and CEO, Oliveboard, an online exam preparation platform said, “To stay connected with all the employees, we have zoom or Hangout calls in smaller and company level groups. While our employees are working from home since lockdown, to keep their motivation level high, we are sharing fitness challenges in our company WhatsApp groups. We play games like Tambola, Quiz etc. to keep our spirits high during these times.”

Nandwani of Acuver Consulting added, “Considering the total shift in the working environment, we are organizing regular sessions on a diverse portfolio like yoga, self-motivation, etc. to boost energy level and maintain positivity around.”

Esper’s Sundar informed that the company hosts monthly hack days virtually, apart from working on projects and maintaining business as usual, which keeps the team in good spirits.

While remote work may continue for some more time now, this ‘new normal’ is also a valuable reminder for organizations to always have a strong tech backbone and a backup plan in place.

“The current situation emphasizes the need for IT resilience and cyber hygiene in every organization. Going forward, we will see businesses be more strategic about technology performance and look beyond just using cyber hygiene to avoid risk. It will be embedded into the very structure of businesses as a staple to ensure business continuity and seamless customer engagement. A strategic and resilient IT infrastructure system will be a key feature in defining the New Normal for businesses, regardless of their size,” summed up Sundar.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at Trivone Digital, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com