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Our Productivity has gone up even with employees working from home: President, Esri

During tough times, tough leaders survive. And along with them survives their companies. India’s leading Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) solutions provider Esri India Technologies (Esri India) managed to hold their ground and grow their business during the pandemic. We talk to Mr. Agendra Kumar, President, Esri India to understand their journey in the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

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  1. How has your company been adjusting to the new-normal?

We always had a very robust IT infrastructure. That helped us in quickly switching to work from home for the entire staff. Safety of our staff is of paramount importance; they are all able to work thorough IT systems, calls, mails and video conferencing. Our services to the customers have continued without any decline in service levels. We have conducted campus interviews and selection remotely; when new people join, we have computers delivered to their homes. Induction and on-boarding are also done remotely. We have transformed our business development activities; instead of 25-30 physical events that we used to conduct; we have now been able to host close to 400 webinars with tailor-made content for each customer. Productivity has in fact gone up.

  1. Have you witnessed any major changes in the business/sector in the post Covid scenario? Can you draw an analysis for us by comparing pre-Covid and post-Covid?

We have seen increased interest from the health sector. Esri India provided free software and services to integrate the COVID-19 related data for many government organizations working to monitor and manage the spread of COVID-19. Using our system, these organizations were able to create maps and dash boards to see the state of preparedness and the spread of the pandemic with the latest data available. They were also able to run analytics. These efforts have helped the decision makers in understanding the impact of GIS for health-related applications. We have also seen more demand coming from municipal corporations as they are keen to map all their assets and improve the living conditions in the areas under their control.

  1. With Covid-19 in the picture, are you considering augmenting your business objectives/approach? 

We have continued with the objectives that we had set for ourselves when we completed our planning for the year 2020-21 in January this year. In terms of approach whole company has adapted to a new way of working. We are able to perform most if not all business activities on-line. We are doing software installations remotely and have switched to a cloud-based platform for delivery of training to our clients. There has hardly been any travel or physical marketing activities, so there is some cost saving as well.

  1. Have you resumed your office operations? What are the various precautionary measures you have undertaken or you will undertake to ensure safety of your employees?

About 10% of our staff are working from office. We are planning to gradually increase this to about 50% over next 30 to 60 days, provided the declining trend in new Covid-19 infections continue. As the number of people will be about 50%, social distancing will be easily possible. We have implemented sanitization measures in our offices where people have started working from office. Other measures like temperature monitoring, making sanitizers available at multiple points in the offices and recommending the staff to wash their hand frequently and wearing masks at all times have also been put in place.

  1. How is your company supporting employees during this pandemic? Have you undertaken any specific activities to boost employee wellness and well-being?

After speaking with several employees, I understood each one of us had different challenges due to the lock-down and work from home. Months of April and May were more challenging. Our HR team got into act quickly and created some employee engagement programs where the employees shared their experiences during pandemic with each other in small groups. We also declared one extra paid holiday, which was very helpful. We arranged on-line yoga and wellness sessions too. We frequently communicated with the staff in the form of town-halls and sharing of personal experiences by the leadership team. Getting families involved was also very important, so we conducted a few musical evenings where employees and their family members presented their talents. 

  1. As a business leader, how are you dealing with erratic work hours? Have you discovered or rekindled any new or old hobbies during lockdown? How has it helped you to unwind after a stressful day?

I have been able to get good amount of discipline so as my mornings are concerned. I start my workday at 9.30am, that allows me the time for walks, workouts and going through the newspapers. But it has not been possible to manage the end of my workday very well. Most of us are actually doing more work than what we used to do in office. I also invest a considerable amount of time in speaking with staff, customers and partners, because it is very important to remain connected. I have of-course been able to continue with my habit of reading books and cooking on the weekends.

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