The clock striked. The hearts raced. The fear loomed. The biggest Breaking News of the Year flashed!
“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
And, thus began the fight against an invisible threat of the century.
For many, the perceived changes were in their lifestyles- working from home; ordering groceries, vegetables and medicines online; attending web conferences, classes, etc. But, for many unfortunate ones, it was an inescapable truth. A large part of the economic activities were on halt, leaving the needy sections without a way to make through. To say that they required active support would be an understatement.
The time when the entire population was stepping INside, we as an entity decided to step Up and act responsibly for our nearby communities and our society. This was a situation which needed immediate action, more than just reaction.
The way our employees responded to this crisis is a defining moment that will be remembered for years. From taking care of Stack Overflow to managing water tank overflow commands from our Mothers, we all bid goodbye to a year like never before.
How We Responded to Covid19?
One of the questions that were in our mind was “how to get started”. This was an unprecedented moment. It was important that we approach it with a sense of calm and responsibility—because we had many people counting on us. We all wanted to normalize everything, return to the way things were before pandemic, and reduce the hardships people were facing currently.
Our Message to Society: Sedin performed CSR by promoting social awareness for social-distancing: We sent a message to the society by separating our letters ‘SED’ from ‘IN’ in our official logo and created social media posts about the hygienity people need to maintain: 20 seconds of hand wash l 2 Meters distance l O Tolerance Level against Covid19.
Sedin Cares: The diversified work culture of our company and work from home means we can address some immediate needs of our nearby communities where we are situated. We open heartedly contributed to our Sedin Relief Fund that systematically supported the requirements of the elderly people, educational needs of girl child, families looking to meet their ends and needy auto rickshaw drivers near our regional offices.
100% Work From Home: Economy might be on hold, but it doesn’t mean work can’t continue. We fundamentally altered the way we work and engage. We quickly adapted to the new working regime, moving physical meetings onto video chats and leveraging workplace collaborative platforms.
To stay in contact, manage interactions and maintain business continuity, we continued to communicate through multiple channels such as video chat applications, online meeting portals, workspace collaborative platforms, harnessing virtual meetings using tools like WebEx, Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom and much more. Flexible working hours, shorter commutes, and no time wasted in traffic paved the way for more hours of productive work and happy time to spend with our families.
No Employee Layoffs: As we were bombarded with news of companies laying off their hardworking employees due to the economic crisis, Sedin top management decided not to lay off a single employee in this financial year, and made sure every employee was paid on time and were taken care of, irrespective of our geographical locations. We paid everyone’s salary on time and in full amount without any reduction and gave raises to employees for their performances.
Infrastructure and Set-up Allowances: As a token of appreciation for our workforce’s continued support amid the pandemic, we extended our gratitude by paying a one-time allowance to all our employees. We partly compensated for the various measures all of us had taken to work from home comfortably such as home-office furniture, internet connectivity setup, infrastructure, etc.
24/7 Admin and HR Support: The uncertain time means our HR and Admin team were always on their toes. All the requirements related to laptop, devices, internet connectivity, server, and much more were handled smoothly by our Super Admin team in and out of the office.
Our HR Team were constantly in touch with all our employees, sending out advisories to follow during pandemic, guidelines to take care of, conducting session for Yoga, online classes for nutritions and health wellness, webinars to stay healthy, keeping an eagle eye on well being of all, encouraging people to track and monitor their health, and go for check ups incase they get sick. If anyone was unwell, our HR team coordinated with the respective employees and their families by helping them get all round health checkup, timely medicines delivery, or any type of other support like arranging vehicle during lockdown days to go to hospitals for check up, providing moral support to their team & family members, and talking to healthcare providers in smooth operations of the activities.
Health and Mental Wellbeing was Priority for Us: COVID-19 anywhere was a threat to health everywhere.
In all likelihood, very few of our employees needed medical care. We bought new insurance policies that covered our employees, their family and parents under one umbrella against the pandemic. We negotiated with our insurance providers in offering additional premiums to cover the medical expenses, equipment, medicines, hospitalization charges, and much more.
Many of us have faced our own anxieties around staying healthy, safe, and connected. Our leadership acknowledged this concern and coordinated with the HR team in supporting employee mental health. From mental health awareness campaigns, one-on-one counseling to meditation, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, and eating habits, Sedin actively contributed to the physical, emotional and social health of its employees. Physical activity, balanced diet, and adequate sleep were frequently reinforced, in addition to repetitive stress injury prevention for employees working remotely. We put extra emphasis on infection prevention safeguards to help protect our health.
Our policy of self-managed leave has been especially valuable for people knowing they have the flexibility and support to take time off, even if that time is spent at home away from work.
We offered support in the form of following activities at a no-cost to our people: Weekly self-care videos, weekly well-being communications, 1:1 health coaching for employees and their families, manager well-being calls, stress management activities, yoga sessions, and morale boosting activities. In addition, our company’s CEO and CFO personally interacted with the majority of our employees, taking a note of their wellness through telephonic communication.
Work and Play: We like to work hard and play harder. And, we kept it that way during the tough days too. We hosted a variety of themed events for our employees, their kids and families- from Halloween, cooking traditional dishes, rangoli, virtual potluck, ethnic celebrations, painting, cyclathon, quiz competitions, crossword puzzles, weekly challenges, exercises, walkathons, Garba nights, christmas gifts to less fortunate persons, Zumba classes, and many physical activities to keep all of us active. Our team encourages professional development by starting webinars, offering on-the-job training, and offering courses through HubSpot Academy, LinkedIn Learning.
From preparing beautiful kolams in Pongal, delicious payasams to savoring rosogolla during dussehra, celebrations of diwali in Namma Ooru Bengaluru- we all got a taste of our rich and vibrant culture of our country through video conferences. We all were connected, doing exceptional things to support one another, and stand together.
We continued to invite ideas from our people about ways to stay engaged, remain healthy, and reduce stress as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. We encouraged them to share their journey, entrepreneurship ideas as we believe we all are different and have our unique ways of leading the world for the betterment of humanity. Such were the endeavors we could feel proud to know the amount of efforts being put by our people in helping nearby underprivileged communities. They were our uncapped HEROES.
Our Frontline Warriors: As much as we care about our employees, we care a lot about our support staff too. Our security team, cleaning team religiously were on guard against the odds, supporting in ways we can ever be grateful for. Irrespective of lockdowns, our regional offices were cleaned, sanitized and were safeguarded against any malicious events by our ever agile frontline warriors. Yes, they were our warriors for the invisible threat. We ensured to contribute financially to support their requirements and took care of any practical needs including food or other basic provisions, the cost of utility bills or the cost of travel expenses.
Financial Times: We shifted our focus on the financial trails of our people. Left on their own, many employees would turn to the exorbitant charges of credit card debt and payday lenders who would levy a higher interest rate at that time. We stepped in and extended financial help to our employees without interest rates. That difference in interest rates were the difference between bankruptcy and economic survival. We arranged low interest rates loans for our employees by asking their banks to make loans available immediately and smoothly without much hassles.
In addition to the above, we were already witnessing the single most important reboot of our life altogether. A crucial aspect of our ability to weather this and be prepared for future global crises of any magnitude, we will be hand-full of broader support for efforts that make sure we never have to experience this hardship again.
In the meantime, please continue to take care of yourselves, each other and stay connected.