From Office to WFH: How We Moved 800 People Amid COVID-19

  • April 16, 2020
  • Owen Hughes

Due to the current crisis, “Working from home” (WFH) is rapidly becoming the new norm for many people and there is a huge amount of adjustment taking place.

As a technology firm, you would think it is easy to make the change, but there are many elements that we had to take into consideration, we thought we would share these with you in case they can help other businesses adapt.

  • Technology

As soon as it became clear that COVD-19 was going to lead many of us to change the way we worked, we considered what was needed to move our workforce to WFH. This preparation started off in the 2nd week of February itself as it would have meant ensuring all our staff had both the computers and internet access at home, many of whom didn’t. So, we did the following:

  • Bought laptops for all staff, over 800 in total
    • Bought dongles to ensure everyone had secure access to our IT infrastructure
    • Gave all staff a payment to cover the cost of broadband for their house to ensure they were not out of pocket
    • Enterprise licenses for video calling apps. This was done to enable choice for our teams as per our clients IT security policy. Some clients for instance were comfortable in using Zoom while some could use only Google Meet and so on.

As a result of these steps, our whole workforce is now working from home and the impact on our clients has been minimal.

Operationally it really is business as usual for us.

  • Process Modifications

Changing situations necessitate the ‘normal’ processes to be changed. It was important that our processes especially for human resources (HR) and finance (including payroll) were changed to factor in the ‘new normal’.

  • For HR, we ensured that all compliances were made to work for a WFH environment versus working within our corporate firewall. This meant less stress for employees to adhere to the compliances and no interruptions to the working culture.
    • Finance being a secured process was addressed in two ways:
      • Physical Access: Comprehensive accommodation facilities along with proper staff for food and sanitation was deployed on-site. Furthermore special permission from the local law enforcement agencies was gained to allow for movement of certain people critical for maintaining finance and payroll. We currently have a team of 3 people who can comfortable stay on our campus, easily and without any concerns as all arrangements have been made for them.
      • Virtual Access: Special access was extended beyond the corporate firewall network for other staff members to work during WFH.
    • Both of the above meant that our critical finance functions like payroll, vendor payments and others were not impacted and function as usual
  • Health & Wellbeing

However, there are other issues that are more difficult to address than the IT, in particular the mental and social impact of WFH.

For both of these we are putting in place numerous steps to help our staff cope with the change, including:

  • Regular virtual meetings using video conferencing to ensure they still speak to other members of the team
    • A network of contacts to ensure all staff have access to help and support if they need it
    • Regular internal updates on latest health and fitness tips to keep them healthy throughout the duration of the crisis
    • Ensuring that our ground staff which includes cleaners, gardeners, security staff and other such people were supplied with rations for their homes for 2 months. This provided an immense relief to them as we recognised that it is unfortunately the people at the lower end of the economic chain who are impacted the most and we wanted to address this proactively for people working with us.
  • CSR

This pandemic has unfortunately not only impacted business but has had crippling impact on society as well.  We wanted to play our part in giving back to our community, state and country.

  • We donated as an organisation almost US100k to the state’s relief fund meant for tackling Covid-19
    • We are also donating money to the NGO Akshay Patra that helps them provide meals to 2,000 people daily who are unable to have access to food on count of job loss

These are just a few actions we have taken, but together these have meant that we have been able to continue our service uninterrupted. We are in fact in a position to continue on WFH as the new normal till June 2020 without any interruptions.

With our clients looking to maintain their activity but with limited access to resource, we are in a strong position to help them weather the crisis and be in a strong position to recover when we come out the other side.

To find out more about how we can help you through the next few months contact us.