Covid-19 has presented organizations with an unprecedented situation that needs to be managed personally and professionally, in ways that haven’t been done before. Everything we do at Flipkart is driven by the need to ensure the safety, well-being, and progress of our employees.
At present the company’s focus has been to ensure that they support their employees as they work remotely, and equip them with adequate tools to help them take care of their physical and mental health, as they work from home. For employees who choose to return to work in office, the organization has implemented necessary measures to create a safe and secure workplace.
Simultaneously the company is taking a calibrated approach to resuming work at their office campus in Bengaluru, beginning with teams that are currently unable to work optimally from home owing to limited infrastructure. “We have strongly advised expectant others; employees with young children and/or elderly parents at home; employees with underlying medical conditions; differently-abled employees; employees who depend on public transport for commute; outstation employees; and employees residing in Covid-19 containment zones, to continue working remotely. We are ensuring that all preventive measures and safety precautions are being strictly implemented at our facilities. We've also made suitable arrangements on campus to ensure social distancing in the common areas,” states Nagaraj Kulkarni.
The Flipkart campus was designed keeping employee experience and convenience as the topmost priority. Hence it naturally takes care of employee safety and health requirements, and therefore doesn’t need any significant changes to the infrastructure. The campus by design is not densely populated either. However, as physical distancing is the new precautionary measure being recommended in case of this specific pandemic, the FM team at Flipkart has made some changes in the way they use and operate the facility and move around the campus. Also, the number of people in the facility at any point of time is consciously monitored to ensure that they maintain adequate distance between themselves while at the campus.
Measures for employee safety
Some of the measures that have been put in place to ensure employee safety, is in line with the recommended practices, to fight the current pandemic being faced are:
■ The employees have been provided with an easy reference handbook to guide them on all processes when they come back to work. This includes important guidelines and the best practices to follow during this difficult time.
■ Adopting a holistic on-campus approach to maintaining a safe environment. It includes thoughtful measures such as sanitizing used whiteboard markers in meeting rooms and creating a new process in washrooms to help keep them sanitized at all times.
■ Decluttering the office space and maintaining clean workstations. Employees are encouraged to keep all their belongings in the desk cabinets so that their workstations can be sanitized more easily and effectively. Each employee has also been assigned a chair with their workstation number on it, to prevent the accidental exchange of chairs.
■ Employees can reserve or pre-book a seat on the days they wish to work from the campus. This prevents overcrowding and ensures that the employees maintain a safe distance between them as they work.
■ Facilitating an easy lane system in office premises to maintain distancing. Several corridors and walkways at the Flipkart campus have been converted into ‘one-ways’ to streamline people's movements and to observe safe distance between employees at all times.
■ Measures have been taken to minimize employees’ exposure to common surfaces. The main doors to the washrooms are always kept open to avoid touching the door handles. Screens have been installed in their place to ensure privacy. Employees are also being encouraged to maintain distancing in the washrooms by using alternate stalls and washbasins. All surfaces that come into human contact are regularly sanitized.
■ Arrangements have been made for employees to eat at their respective desks. The employees are also encouraged to carry their own meals and bring their own water bottles and mugs to office. Tuck shops are open for those who rely on the cafeteria for meals.
■ Clustered services have been initiated to reduce crowding at elevators. Those seeking a fitter and faster route can take the stairs.
■ Even though large gatherings have been discontinued within the office campus, the company has ensured that learning doesn’t take a back seat. All training and engagement activities have been moved online to ensure that knowledge-sharing and fun activities continue in a safe manner.
■ The company has also now enabled the seat booking module of the space management tool that they have, and enabled employees to book their seats when they need to work from campus. This ensures a limited number of people on the floor and helps in contact tracing if the need arises.
■ The company is also working with the developer on converting the existing elevator controls to a touch less solution.
“We keep exploring new avenues to adopt emerging technological solutions to enhance the efficiency and employee experience in the campus,” mentions Nagaraj.
Those who have densely fitted out workspaces will face major challenges in accommodating their workforce due to social distancing norms for employee safety. Others, like us, are able to manage these new requirements without any changes to the infrastructure because of the considerations made in the initial designs itself. Going forward, employee health and safety will assume prime importance in facility design, and all organizations will need to comply. Facilities will have to depend more on the use of technology to operate and monitor critical parameters and build resilience in their systems and processes, to face similar or even more adverse conditions in the future.