The new normal after COVID has played a critical role in opening up our eyes towards the shortcomings that are prevalent in the modern system of organization. Multinational corporations have been brought to a standstill, the governments are at a loss, there is a striking lack of preventive as well as counteractive measures and the economic powerhouses have more or less collapsed within a span of a single year thus bringing to light the shortcomings of modern society as a whole.
It is essential that global businesses once again kickstart their operations in order to meet the rising demands of the markets worldwide and strive to cut down their losses so as to ensure sustainable development in the coming years. We, at Vervotech, were also left at a loss during the onset of the pandemic as we are involved in the travel industry, one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC), it is estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the global travel industry a sum total of $22 billion, which is not even taking into account the estimated loss of about 50 million jobs.
As soon as we realized the actual severity of the situation, we quickly decided to close down our offices and instate strict guidelines when it came to the personal hygiene of our employees. The Indian government decided to shut down all external links to other countries in an attempt to contain the spread and all global forms of travel came to a virtual standstill. Needless to say, most of us were at a loss when it came to dealing with the pandemic and were reeling for some sort of semblance of normalcy during a time of indefinite crisis.
New Normal Initial Lessons
There were a few things that we quickly learned in the first couple of months of the pandemic that we believe were key to reinstating standards of a new normal at our workplace. These were:
- Our employees are our most valuable resource and we must do everything in our power to help them in their time of need
- Personal hygiene and maintaining strict social distancing standards are extremely essential to contain the spread of the virus
- Financial discipline and management during such times of crisis is perhaps one of the key factors that will set businesses apart in the long run
- Motivational policies and strategies are extremely crucial in order to ensure that the morale of the employees is high even during such challenging times
With these things in mind, the management at Vervotech held a meeting so as to discuss the variable challenges that lay ahead and the ways that the company could meet the same without taking major risks. The team quickly understood that the working standards from home are quite different from that of working from an office. Therefore, one of the first challenges for the team was to ensure that each employee was able to access the resources that they required to complete their daily tasks. A proper working environment is directly proportional to productivity – lesson I.
The team also realized that interaction between the various employees was also essential in order to ensure that each entity was kept up to date about the latest developments in the firm. Therefore, the second challenge for the team was to set up channels where the entire team could communicate freely without any interruptions. Proper interaction and communication between all entities involved in any project is key to ensuring its success – lesson II.
The third challenge was ensuring that each employee is kept motivated as well as focused under such diverse working conditions due to the new normal. The team realized that there were a lot more additional distractions inherent to working from home as opposed to working from an office that were not really the fault of the employee themselves. Moreover, employees also needed to cope up with the growing pressures of stocking up on essentials as prices soared across markets. Variable working hours and maintaining employee motivation levels are mandatory towards ensuring that the employees are well rested, focused and are able to translate their abilities into essential development for the company – lesson III.
The fourth challenge was setting achievable, qualitative goals instead of relying on pure numbers. As the travel industry was hit hard, the team realized that it was unrealistic to expect the same level of business as compared to times before the pandemic. Therefore, there was a need to set goals for the company keeping the crisis in mind. This will ensure that the team has a definitive target in mind each day that they log in for their daily work. Setting achievable, realistic, and qualitative goals are key towards ensuring focus from the entire team – lesson IV.
With these challenges in mind, the team started setting some standards for all employees so that they are able to cope up with the new normal and the changing scenario brought about by the pandemic. The following are some of the key steps taken by the management in order to ensure this:
- One of the first goals for the company was to provide proper working conditions to all employees working from home. In order to address this, the management decided to allocate Rs. 7000/- for each employee so that they are able to make their own working space at home a little more comfortable. The employees were given the liberty to spend this sum on amenities of their choosing – may it be a new WiFi router, a new desk, and chair or a bean bag, it was completely up to their discretion. In addition, each employee has also been allocated Rs. 1000/- every month as compensation for their high-speed internet connection that has become a necessity in modern work environments. Employees have also been provided with workstations, additional monitors, laptops, and other hardware wherever required in order to make their working conditions a little more comfortable.
- Once employees were provided with a proper working space albeit, at their homes, the next order of business was to ensure that the employees had access to proper channels of communication so that there was an efficient flow of information between the various teams working within the organization. After much debate, the MS Suite was chosen was the official platform for most company operations and Microsoft Teams became the official channel for all company related communication such as IMs and video conferences. All employees were given basic training on the ways to make the most out of the application and before long, employees were able to get back on track to old standards of communication.
- As the team started getting used to the new normal, the management noticed a critical lack of focus and motivation. With the industry being hit hard and the country being shut down, most employees were at a loss when it came to basic normal functions. Team members needed time to take care of personal chores at home, stock up on essentials, and meet the expectations of family members while maintaining regular office hours. These resulted in employees being burnt out and unable to perform to their full potential. It was collectively decided that employees required flexible shifts in order to take care of personal business and the HR team started working on developing standards that would allow employees the same. In addition, a new program called ‘Fun Fridays’ was also introduced that aimed to gather all the employees together every Friday evening in order to take part in fun activities such as games, quizzes, and puzzles. This allowed team members to relax after a week of work and get to know their peers better thus increasing overall confidence and raising motivational levels.
- A few months into the pandemic, the management realized that there was a need to orient the goals of the company according to the capabilities of the firm and the ongoing state of the industry. As a result, it was unanimously decided that the team would focus more on qualitative goals rather than quantitative goals. These goals included employee relationship management, client relationship management, improving the algorithm of our software, and ensuring proper medical support to all employees such as increasing insurance coverage so that one is able to avail emergency medical services during the pandemic.
Although the challenges in this New Normal were many, unity among the various members involved within the organizations constantly motivated us and pushed us forward. Each day was a fight on its own but through constant struggle and mutual understanding, we were soon able to find our footing within the storm. As social distancing and working from home became the new norm, we accepted the reality and moved ahead to meet our goals at every step, and before long, all our employees grew accustomed to these diverse conditions. We believe each and every employee played a critical role in motivating their peers and ensuring that we all moved forward together, leaving no soul behind! The result?
We not only managed to improve relations with our existing customers but also managed to sign up 36 new customers (and counting) during the pandemic. We believe this would not have been possible without the concentrated efforts of all our team members and the strategic decisions taken by the management during such situations of crisis. There will always be challenges ahead and each one brings with it, its own set of experiences – it is essential that we move forward as a team, support each other and work towards meeting our set goals; only then will we be able to ensure normalcy during a global pandemic.
Vervotech, SaaS Company, was founded by a team of passionate entrepreneurs in 2018 with the vision to organize all accommodation data with Vervotech Hotel Mapping and Room Mapping by using large-scale aggregation, AI-based processing, and ever-evolving ML models.