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The New Norm And Focus On 3F’s

The pandemic period certainly offered me a great opportunity to form some good habits which I believe will stay with me and the organization for good. I would urge the readers to find their own priorities and form habits.

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In February last year, we first heard of a new virus emerging in China. One that also rapidly spread to Italy and the rest of the world and prestissimo, the WHO had declared a worldwide pandemic in March 2020.  Around this time, is when I took my first COVID-related action i.e., we realized a colleague had just traveled on business to Italy, and we lost no time with flying her back to India, pronto. By mid-March, we heard about the virus getting much closer to home and we started discussing measures to brace ourselves to meet the emerging situation. Townhall meetings were scheduled to create awareness amongst employees and the leadership team worked over the weekends to analyze, design, and rollout countermeasures to tackle the uncertainty that was staring at us head-on. On the 22nd of March, we decided to shut down our facilities, even before the Government announced a countrywide lockdown.

And thus began the new norm.

We soon realized that returning to business as usual would not be around the corner, and the situation called for us to learn to get on with business, as the only viable option. Within a few weeks and in the true spirit of resilience and agility, everyone learned new ways of working and delivering outcomes. More than ever before, staying focused and disciplined became imperatives.

Looking back, I now term this as the 3Fs or the 3 areas of focus that emerged during this rather challenging time viz., Family, Fitness, and Finance. I realized that all the 3 were pertinent not just for me individually, but true for the organization as well.

First on Family:

Most of us were used to spending long hours at work. For a person like me who has been living out of two cities for over a decade, this was more acute. Being home for a few days at a stretch was a luxury. With the forced work-from-home situation, I was at home longer even if I spent long hours on the phone and PC.

On the organization front, the entire leadership team engaged heavily in ensuring that the ELGI family, our employees across functions and geographies stayed safe and healthy.

Fast forward 12 months, and when I look back, I believe I have spent quality time with my family at home while technology helped me sustain a strong connection with my colleagues.

Second on Fitness:

While the desire to maintain fitness has always been strong, the ability to be at it with a high level of consistency was often impaired with frequent travel and living out of two cities. The new norm offered a stable routine but I quickly realized that unless I become steadfast in adhering to a fitness schedule, I could easily slip into a sedentary lifestyle. I committed to 50-minute workouts 5 days a week. I also decided to sweep and mop the home daily which provided not only good physical exercise but also helped me contribute, in a small way, to the household chores. I am glad to say that I have been active every single day for nearly a year now and have exceeded my goal.

As leaders, it was our responsibility to assess and retain the fitness of the organization too. We spent long hours making scenario plans with short-term and medium-term outlook, measures to counter the threats that were looming large. While I do not want to go into the details, the CEO, CFO, and other leaders invested a lot of time and efforts to ensure that we .weather the storm and emerge stronger. Driven by the phenomenal contributions from every employee, I am happy to say that we are fit and staying the course.

As one of my colleagues said, ‘being fit’ and ‘being healthy’ are two different things and that is certainly an area to focus more on. Also, I am yet to start investing in mental well-being. Meditation to start with looks to be a great idea, something to adopt in the coming months. On the organization front enhancing focus on the talent is the agenda to pursue and we are well set to do that.

Finally on finance:

From the time I had disposable income, I decided on my savings goal and ensured I set aside a defined amount first and spent only the balance. This has helped me build some retirement corpus.

With the advent of the pandemic, there were clear signs of austerity measures being taken by companies and the resultant anxieties that occupied the employees’ minds. Like fitness, it was time to review my finances and take actions to not only deal with the current challenge but also build some enduring practices.

For the corporation, as we know, “cash is king” and this is even more so during such downturns. With weak sentiments and an uncertain outlook for the most part, it was most critical to conserve cash and build our war chest. We had to entirely bring our focus to this and the leadership team has been meeting every single working day over the last year to review the sales and cash situation globally. This commitment helped improve the fiscal discipline across the organization and the performance reflects all the great work done by every single employee of the company.

While all this was on, I also changed my role from HR to Finance and straddled both the roles for a while. I could also find time to pursue some of my passions such as motorcycle riding and DIY indulgence at home. I just completed a Bangalore – Coimbatore- Bangalore ride on my motorcycle besides few short trips over the last few months.

On the organization front, besides continuous improvement being a way of life, we also focused our efforts globally on creating a mid-term strategic business plan; as an interim milestone to our CK2 aspiration.

The pandemic period certainly offered me a great opportunity to form some good habits which I believe will stay with me and the organization for good. I would urge the readers to find their own priorities and form habits.

I take this opportunity to thank every one of our employees for their exemplary contribution and commitment. This was a great opportunity for the employees to live the values of the organization, learn new ways, and we did a truly great job.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Jayakanthan R

Chief Financial Officer, Elgi Equipments

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