Handling COVID-19 with a smile on our faces!
"The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need tomorrow" - Robert Tew, an American writer.
No other time in our living memory has glorified Tew’s words more than the current pandemic-stricken world. In the shortest amount of time, there has been a dramatic shift in the way we live and work. But every now and again, there is dire need to take some time to reflect on how things could have been different. Over the last few months, everyone has had to adjust to a new normal due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Governments across the world have scrambled to respond to a pandemic that continues to grow at a quicker pace with each passing day. In parallel, when businesses found themselves in the thick of an unprecedented situation, they took all possible measures to mitigate potential losses on every level - customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
Balancing the uncertainty of the virus’ progression with keeping the economy afloat has been a key task for all heads of states. In moments such as these, looking beyond the established ways of doing things is an absolute necessity. With this in mind, here are a few considerations took into account at Mindtree.
The Business Continuity Plan - Ways to reshape and build Enterprise Resilience
"At Mindtree, our immediate task at hand was not to mitigate losses, but rather ensure that all processes continue smoothly."
Companies have relied on Business Continuity Plans (BCP) to help them navigate disruptions to their day-to-day operations. Typical business continuity strategy involves shifting the workforce/function to a non-affected location, thus allowing work to continue without disruptions. However, due to the widespread reach of the pandemic, locations across the globe were affected – a scenario most BCPs had not accounted for. In several cases, the process led to more complication than the BCP had envisaged.
For instance, some companies had issues related to employees not being equipped with laptops and the means of communications needed to operate remotely. In other cases, there were concerns related to cybersecurity, since many companies did not have the endpoint level controls required to provide security assurance over remote working at this scale. Most importantly, in many cases the decisions related to remote working enablement were delayed, leading to a frantic scramble at the last minute. At Mindtree, timely decision making and inherent readiness ensured smooth switchover to remote working while ensuring that client deliverables were not impacted. Given the nature of the pandemic, it required some thought about how Mindtree Minds would work from home. However, we were able to complete the transition easily and seamlessly, considering Mindtree is a truly digital company that leverages new technologies internally while also implementing them for clients.
Mindtreeʼs Secret Sauce
Inherent readiness to Work from Home (WFH)
Our Core Safety, Passion and Connection
The word that best describes Mindtree’s efforts is ‘holistic.’
Each part of our business machinery was attuned with the others for the system to work as a whole. We believe that at the heart of our organization are three fundamental principles: Safety, Passion and Connection. Each principle brings us closer to the essence of what creating value means for us. It means to foster a community of clients, Mindtree Minds, and stakeholders, who are all connected with and care for each other, and being passionate about the same goals and ideals. Thus, Mindtree worked with a holistic perspective, prioritizing people and their experiences. With over 21,000 Mindtree Minds spread across 43 offices in 15 countries, the task ahead was massive. We had to ensure the safety of all Mindtree Minds and ascertain that our clients had no disruption in their work. During this process, everyone came together as one single team while functioning independently, thus being strongly connected at the core.
Safety is key
The basic premise that guides our operational principles is that when you ensure the safety of people, they feel respected and do their best work. Here’s what we did.
Established a War Room
Mindtree devised a plan with four prongs comprising different but essential areas - health and safety, business continuity, client support, and communications. New systems, with a strong focus on implementation, had to be thought of from scratch, and the existing ones had to be migrated. By March 3, to address this mammoth task, a war room had been set up, and a core Crisis Response Team had been formed.
Managed Effective Communication - Internal and External
Crisis Response Teams were set up to support Mindtree Minds and projects. There was a central team managing the communication across all the local teams, which took up the responsibility of making sure that every stakeholder under their purview did not have to face any adverse circumstances owing to work. The senior management and Board were also kept apprised at every step. Moreover, stakeholders’ views were sought at every step of the way, including external bodies, analysts, and industry peers. There was an acknowledgement of the fact the crisis had affected us all, and thus we were all in this together.
Helped Mindtree Minds with Medical Issues
We extended to each and every Mindtree Mind all the possible ways of making their lives easier in case of medical issues. For instance, one of our Mindtree Minds was injured during a mishap at home. To help, the entire team came together to take the Mindtree Mind to the hospital, apart from helping the person to return home as well. Further cementing the centrality of caring in each of our endeavors, one of our Mindtree Minds’ parents had been admitted to a hospital in Kolkata, India. The Mindtree Mind was in the USA however Mindtree still ensured the best possible treatment, apart from ensuring that the Mindtree Mind got back to Kolkata safely.
"As usual, Mindtree continues to meet and surpass expectations. We appreciate your continued flexibility, especially in light of the global pandemic" - Team Lead at of of UK’s biggest news broadcasters
Employee engagement initiatives help play a pivotal role in terms of helping us connect with Mindtree Minds on a regular basis. Several such programs were undertaken by us with the primary intention of ensuring better working environment, especially given the remote work model that all of us had adopted. For instance, we introduced an exclusive time-bound policy to avail a salary advance to set up a comfortable work space at home or to buy laptops for Mindtree Minds’ children’s education. We also introduced a unique ‘Gift-a-Leave,’ policy which helped Mindtree Minds who had exhausted their leave credits seek a leave from their colleagues.
Proactive employee engagement initiatives
Apart from these, other critical initiatives such as online medical consultations for Mindtree Minds and their families and a comprehensive insurance plan covering COVID-19-related hospitalization expenses were put in motion. Also, we realized that there was a shortage of beds in hospitals, which increased the risk of infection. To combat this, we tied up with large hospitals that had lodges with quarantine facilities and medical facilities in cities where we have our business presence.
Our Unrivalled Passion for Technology
By leveraging the right technology at the right time, we aim to make processes as efficient as possible so that there is no redundant effort - thus respecting the most basic of all resources, time.
Technology is at the heart of what Mindtree does, and the passion for it makes us capable of achieving greater goals.
Securing Remote Working
The sudden shift to remote work massively amplified the problem of protecting information. As we had to implement remote access technologies faster and upgrade existing infrastructures to ensure business continuity, this led to strengthening of security monitoring and governance process. Frequent security awareness, emphasis on data security and heightened focus on endpoint security were our primary focus. While the remote setup makes the discovery of cyber-attacks significantly more difficult, effort was on to monitor all vital security parameters to detect and prevent any such attempt. This ensured no interruption to the business from cyber-adversaries.
Perfected Virtual On-Boarding
Over a 1000 new joiners were virtually on-boarded since the end of March 2020 using our internal applications and MS Teams - all while our staff, as well as the new joiners, were WFH. One of the primary challenges here was to verify the photocopy against original documents. To facilitate this, we made all candidates upload mandatory documents to a portal with a self-declaration on their veracity. Post this, there were submission reviews and background checks which were initiated with an agency. Next, the process of ID creation was handled through coordination with IT - and new joiners and managers were notified. After this, pre-configured laptops were delivered to the new joiners’ doorsteps, ensuring immediate productivity.
Smooth Expense Reimbursement for Mindtree Minds, Leave/ Transfer Management, and Exit Management
We had meticulous daily catch-up meetings to discuss Task Allocations, Processes, and Policy Exceptions. The teams involved worked together cohesively - we had early closures, periodic reviews, and reconciliation. We witnessed high performance levels even during trying times through Microsoft Teams. For Mindtree Minds on their exit path, we remotely erased the data from the company-provided laptops and proactively emailed exit procedures to them. We obtained self-declaration forms from such Mindtree Minds and used company vehicles - with movement passes from the local government - to pick up their laptops. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, there were no delays in the final payments, and everything proceeded according to plan.
Efficient Global Contact Center and Vendor Invoice Processing
We achieved 100% paperless processing of invoices through open communication channels between Suppliers, People Shared Services and Accounts Payables. We maximized MACI (our internal chatbot) for addressing L3 queries.We also enabled Set-up Genie (ticket resolution application), MS Teams Chat, Skype for Business chat, and mobile call back option to handle Mindtree Minds’ queries during WFH.
Space Management for Returning to the Office
We also enabled Set-up Genie (ticket resolution application), MS Teams Chat, Skype for Business chat, and mobile call back option to handle Mindtree Minds’ queries during WFH. We achieved 100% paperless processing of invoices through open communication channels between Suppliers, People Shared Services and Accounts Payables. We maximized MACI (our internal chatbot) for addressing L3 queries. We understand that the pandemic will subside at some point. So, we focused on creating an office environment where Minds would feel comfortable working. For this, we set up Plan A and B for managing the space.
- Plan A was to identify second/ third seats across floors to comply with Response distancing norms.
- Plan B was to improve Plan A based on ODC/Non-ODC areas, current seat density, occupancy rate, and project/floor nature.
Post this, we listed seat numbers for To foster a sentiment of togetherness, regular meetings are being held. These differ from the scrum meetings, since they are not focused on the work aspect of things - but rather making space for bonding with one’s coworkers as well as superiors. For each vertical, a BCP coordinator had been identified even before the crisis. Soon, dedicated team members coordinated with the Mindtree Minds to conduct the activities.each account/group to help accounts derive a rotation plan for their teams. We also color-coded teams as Red, Yellow and Green for easy identification. With this, our space management was complete. Apart from ensuring adequate space options, a lot of effort has gone into ensuring that precautions such as sanitization of all commonly-used areas, access controls etc. are in place. There was a definite sense of urgency, in the sense that everything could not be planned in advance. Given this reality, we thought it best to make flexible plans that could be adjusted according to the physical demands imposed at any given time. Moreover, we revised these plans each month, depending on the latest developments regarding the virus.
Staying Connected in these Turbulent Times
The very essence of human life can be summed up in one word: COMMUNITY.
And Mindtree’s efforts have always been to ensure that there is a large community being created, which gives people a reason to continue doing their best, each day!
Regular Stand-up Meetings with Delivery Team
To foster a sentiment of togetherness, regular meetings are being held. These differ from the scrum meetings, since they are not focused on the work aspect of things - but rather making space for bonding with one’s coworkers as well as superiors. For each vertical, a BCP coordinator had been identified even before the crisis. Soon, dedicated team members coordinated with the Mindtree Minds to conduct the activities.
Helping alleviate the society in these unprecedented times
Giving back to society is at the core of everything that we do at Mindtree. From helping combat the pandemic by providing medical and personal protective equipment to the respective governments to providing free COVID-19 tests to personnel of the state police department to contributing to the welfare of those affected by the pandemic, Mindtree has been at the forefront in terms of helping alleviate the society in these troubled times.
A defining moment of this year, physical distancing has become pivotal to the present as well as to the future. Keeping this in mind, Mindtree redesigned its logo temporarily to reflect its solidarity in physical distancing. All of our Mindtree Minds are working from home - and those who are in office are maintaining physical distancing. Through this, we aim to encourage others to believe in this mission of safety and security.
Well-insulated for the Future
The technology industry, which has thus far maximized productivity through co-located work spaces, must realize that the world isn’t the same as how it used to be before the pandemic. Remote working will be the new norm, with agile scrum teams meeting virtually, to drive productivity gains and client value. In the last six months, there has been a massive adoption of digital technologies, with more people dependent on it compared to a few years ago. Companies have started focusing on technologies that help connect to customers digitally. Going forward, we believe that this is the new normal for our industry. As a company, Mindtree believes in prioritizing people and making sure that their needs are met. We did this through our multiple care initiatives - forming a war room, space management for returning to offices, and helping our Mindtree Minds who were physically sick. Through our passion for technology, we were able to make sure that the transition to working from home was smooth for our Mindtree Minds, including new joiners as well as those exiting the organization.
We did this through smooth expense reimbursement (among other things), perfecting virtual on-boarding, and having efficient vendor processing. More importantly, we amplified our efforts at staying connected by creating a community and spreading positivity through social media - all to indicate the best is yet to come, and that when it does, we will be able take it in our stride and work in unison towards achieving progress.