As the COVID-19 threat gained momentum, countries in South-East Asia took strong steps to contain the spread of this deadly virus. To save lives; quarantines, and letting the economy take a back seat, became prudent. Around the globe, governments issued lockdown directives, restricted travel, and recommended social distancing. The movement of people and conducting business was restricted to essential and emergency services with remote work being a mandate for roles that could comply. According to UN ESCAP[i], the impact of these measures and resultant supply chain disruptions could lead to a drop in the region’s GDP growth by percentage point.
Traditional business continuity plans were not prepared for measures requiring facilities to shut down completely, and businesses struggled to manage change. Many companies had little remote work readiness and IT infrastructures were quickly under duress from the new demands. Lack of process automation and a high dependence on on-site workers also created operational challenges.
Morphing into a new work model
The future of work was heading towards flexibility. Reports predicted that 42.5% of the global workforce would be mobile by 2022[ii]. By forcing companies to move to a remote work model almost overnight, COVID-19 has perhaps made remote work a new normal much sooner than anticipated.
In this environment, Wipro ASEAN has worked relentlessly to support our customers and ensure seamless service, even while our teams shifted to a 100% remote work model – both onsite and offshore – in just over one week. We took rapid action to equip the team – enabling laptops, implementing required access and security protocols, mobilizing resources where needed, and doubling remote support – with zero escalations from clients.
The 3 pillars of transformation
Wipro continued operations and supported customers by focusing on 3 areas – customer delivery, strategic re-planning, and transformation to a new normal.
- Customer delivery and employee reassurance – We proactively communicated with clients, discovered how to best support them during this pandemic, and ensured that project delivery was not impacted. We ran business continuity plans and got permissions from clients to allow our employees to log on to their networks remotely with secure access. We ensured that there was consistent communication and continuous support available to our employees to help them do their jobs from home. While we were agile, we were also hyper communicative. Our HR Shared Services helpline was utilized to answer pandemic-related questions and ensure that there was consistent and regular communication. We allowed flexibility in internal policies that were best suited for our employees’ and customers’ wellbeing. Virtual webinars, geo-specific trainings, and online learning sessions: TopGear, digital, and new ways of working modules are developed for employees to manage seamless and quick transition to disruptive models in these changing times. Centers, which are a part of the global delivery network were utilized to provide support and enable locations quickly.
- Strategic re-planning – To continue business activities, we moved fast and leveraged strategic localizations. We moved all aspects of our service enablement to a no-shore model that included not just servicing our client’s existing needs but also other aspects of business enablement, such as virtual hiring and virtual competency development. We implemented country/client-specific training programs, enabled online learning, and boosted collaboration with online tools. We leveraged TopGear – our crowdsourcing platform – to enable talent-on-demand for our clients.
- Transform – We are currently looking at ways to carry forward this momentum, including new employee and customer engagement processes, a no-shore delivery model, and real-time talent identification and sourcing. We are also identifying and implementing ways to keep our teams engaged and motivated. This includes frequent and timely communication on what is happening within the organization, informal virtual meetings within teams to keep them connected, and leadership outreach to reassure our teams as we gear up for recovery.
The lessons from this pandemic will serve us well as we help clients recover. Covid-19 is neither the first threat to business nor the last, and organizations must aim to be resilient in the face of change.
How are you adjusting to the new normal? Are you geared to streamline your business continuity plans and strategies? Leave your thoughts here.