The COVID 19 pandemic has pushed businesses across countries, to relook at their preparedness to stir through a ripple effect situation.
Operationally, businesses in every industry always have their BCPs and contingency plans in place to address ‘in the event’ scenarios. However, the uncertainty associated with the pandemic forced many organisations to adopt remote operations, making work from home the new ‘office space’.
Having shifted gears to remote operations even before the government proposed this measure to businesses across the country, we at Crossbow Labs made the switch to a fully functional remote working team, swiftly.
We achieved this in a matter of days because of the foresight of our core team in analysing the COVID situation and also because
- Working from home was a work option that our team already enjoyed among other work place benefits.
- Remote operation of every function had been put to test previously, on multiple occasions, to facilitate various activities that call for the participation of the entire team of Archers.
Having said that, we had only addressed half of the situation. The situation within the country, with updates on the rising COVID positive cases, quarantine, lock downs, news updates and posts on social media per minute covering the pandemic brought to the fore the ‘people changes’ that we had to make.
Our approach to travel restrictions, Social distancing and remote working:
#1 SAFETY FIRST
Most of our team were non-residents of the city, staying at PGs or shared flats. So naturally, their safety was our prime concern. The early switch to remote operations gave us the advantage of time – the window for getting people to safe lodgings, even to their hometowns, was just enough for all to make the move – luggage, laptops, cables, dongles, etc..
#2 SOCIAL & TECHNOLOGICAL SUPPORT SYSTEM
Engaging the team : Coping with a situation that was pushing people to adapt to isolation – the very opposite of human nature, is difficult. Travel restrictions, social distancing and quarantine was all people were hearing, seeing and forced to follow. Having moved to the comfort of their homes was one thing but working out of that comfort zone is not every one’s cup of tea. It was going to involve creating LOCs in a mixed environment – family time & work schedules. The uncertainty of how long this would last was a concern for everyone.
So, we directed our focus towards creating a good support system to handhold our team and build on our existing social group at work. Our communication channels – Internal chat, video conferencing on calls, team meetings, all played an important in role in harnessing the team together.
Constant interactions and regular communications – formal and informal – helped the team to know how each of us was holding up. We initiated ‘Team Huddle’ calls whose sole purpose was to share experiences, address difficulties, discuss what each one was doing differently to keep themselves positive and stay abreast of everyone’s well being. These ‘Team huddles’ lent to our team becoming more close knit.
Over a few meetings, we turned this forum to a scheduled getaway sort of experience, where everything except work was discussed. New themes, new topics, new presenter every week piqued everyone’s interest. Today, we look forward to these ‘getaways’ ever so much. It’s our lockdown social circuit.
Some of the activities that we did are share-your-passion, my music – my song, facts & figures, Astrophotography, UFOs – to name a few.
#3 SETTING UP THE NEW “OFFICE”
With larger workforces functioning outside of the secure office set ups, security of information / data is of utmost importance across industries. This demands robust security setups, meaning more access controls or limited access to mission critical processes. Being in the information security industry it was only natural for our team to accept this change in privileges.
Meetings/ calls to support setting up of secure connections, networks, controls and processes was undertaken regularly. Every issue / discrepancy / request continues to be documented and addressed in a timely fashion to its conclusion. This has enabled us to begin everyday on a clean slate.
#4 FOCUS AWAY FROM THE FOCUS :
When everything around us was about COVID 19, we decided to turn our focus on Skill development. What better opportunity and time to give your team the opportunity to map their career goals within the organisation, explore their areas interest and enable cross functional skill development? The COVID situation presented itself as an opportune time to transform employee engagement. We scaled up our Learning and development programs to build a versatile team of cross functional experts. A series of trainings / courses – skill development, certification standards, professional certifications were opened up to build a more rounded team in the field of cyber security.
The way forward
With news of downward trends in the economies of many countries being discussed and debated, it is important for the workforce of any organisation to know where they stand and where they are headed. Transparency and trust have always stirred Crossbow Labs in its journey this far, including the present COVID situation. Communicating this trust in our team has helped each Archer to adapt and follow new work processes and policies with the help of tools & applications to mature our remote work processes and this is just the beginning and short term changes that we have implemented today may well be the norm tomorrow.