The pandemic had a sudden and significant impact on all aspects of life. It impacted the economy globally as well as in India. The level of uncertainty that was at its highest a few months back, is now slowly imping back to normal. Different sectors have been impacted differently the most effected being hospitality, retail, real estate and logistics.
Most sectors have now remerged with new dynamics and of course certain calculated risks. Travel bans, mandatory quarantine, and a lockdown has certainly impacted companies. Businesses will never be the same, as they will have to reinvent themselves by adopting new operational models to the new normal. Organisations would have to look at our workforce to provide them the confidence to get back to work. Work style adaptations will be necessary and safety health and wellness will remain a priority.
Getting back to work is important, but what is even more important is the confidence in employees that they are safe when they enter the office. Given this, FICCI has undertaken several measures like mandating Sanitisation, Mask, and Social Distancing (S.M.S.). Companies have to be proactive and predictive in their decision making to preserve business continuity and have to look at opportunities to safeguard against disruptions. This could be due to labour shortages and of course increased cost, whether it is transportation, space management, compliances. It would be pertinent to mention that we are all experiencing new challenges and we need to relook and change organisational policies to ensure better employee health.
Measures taken by FICCI:
A new SOP was developed and implemented during this phase to ensure employee wellness and instill confidence in the employees.
The SOP provides a framework to assume work after the lockdown due to the pandemic
Screening – This is carried out at the entrance of the office building by using a digital infrared thermometer to identify potential threats
Segregating – Immediately isolating and separating the persons who display the symptoms of illness
Sanitising – All the floors, elevators, staircase, railings, washroom, and control panels are sanitised at the interval of two hours
Sensitising – Use of posters, stickers, digital screen, etc. would be carried out to sensitise employees
Social distancing – Measures like Q-master at the entrance, floor marking on all the floors and lifts, and at the workstation.
Since physical meetings could not be carried out due to the restrictions so digital platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx and Lifesize were used to conduct meetings internally and externally. The organisation used to undertake numerous physical exhibitions. However, The travel restrictions as well the restrictions on numbers compelled FICCI to innovate and start the virtual exhibition platform. FICCI was highly successful in holding three such exhibitions in the past two months.
On the employee front, the organisation did away with card punching, biometrics, etc, and adopted face recognition systems, contactless facilities for lifts, washroom, and other utilities. With the use of technology-based solutions for air quality monitoring and energy management, it is expected that digital technology will help optimise cost and help build resilience to maintain business continuity against any further disruptions. The organisation has also got CCTV based installations to help capture data on social distancing, employees not wearing a mask.
The installation of UGVI-based filters in the AHUs improved the indoor air quality, and brought down the percentage of Bio-Aerosols and VOC.
An important factor is communication with all the stakeholders, staying in contact and maintaining a balance is very important at every stage. Business continuity, financial stability and mitigating risk, while facing a crisis like this, is important and FICCI was able to create models for sustainability.
The compliance and government policies laid out were important. Skilled labour due to migration of labour was another challenge.
Reduced workplace density and introducing office protocols to maintain the new social distancing norms is another challenge, as the protocols on reduced gathering did have a major impact as FICCI does many physical programs. It is expected that the norms for corporate social responsibility will now be greater with jobs being lost. It is certain that there will be an upward trend in outsourcing. Leveraging the flexibility of diversity will be critical, as skills are no longer attached to roles.