Bringing Back the Workforce – Insights into the New Normal Office Space 0

Apu-Pavithran,-CEO_Founder,-Hexnode

As organisations plan to bring their workforce back to the office, employers must carefully plan how to safely reintroduce them to the workplace. Here is how Mitsogo ensured a safe return of its employees to the office.

The Coronavirus threw us all into a new reality that we had very little experience of, and remote work became the new norm. Now, as the quarantines and restrictions loosen, companies around the world are bringing their people back to the office. Although the Covid-19 spread has decreased, it is still a formidable threat. It is hence the responsibility of the company to ensure the safety of the employees returning to the physical workplace. I’ll shine some light on the strategies Mitsogo implemented for the employees’ safe return to the office and our plans to navigate in a post-Covid world.

(Mitsogo is the home of Hexnode UEM, the award-winning unified endpoint management solution)

For a security-based company like ours, maintaining high-quality, uninterrupted calls is a prerequisite. The support team always needs stable and reliable internet for customer calls and the QA team needs access to multiple testing devices. Being a SaaS business, the DevOps team needed to be present at all times to manage the servers. These concerns were addressed by shifting the servers and the mission-critical teams to a safe and temporary guest-house — a bio-bubble, from which they worked. Meanwhile, the rest of the teams like marketing, development, etc worked from home. And with the restrictions relaxing, we started strategizing the necessary steps for the return of the workforce.

Securing the office 

Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare.”  -Michael O. Leavitt, Former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2007 

Perceived through the eyes of Covid-19, Michael Leavitt’s quote from 2007 now seems clairvoyant. Today, as we come out of the lockdown mode, organisations around the world are waking up to a new and different normal.

Zero-touch sanitizer dispensers are placed at every entry and exit in the office premises. The temperatures of all the staff are taken before they are allowed inside. We took adequate steps to ensure maximum protection from the deadly virus the world is facing. Cabs have been arranged for transportation to prevent our employees from using public transport facilities. We made sure that strict social distancing practices are being followed even inside the cabs. Today all meals are served in the office cafeteria and additional refreshments and beverages are available in the office itself. These measures help to reduce the points of outside contact and decrease the risk of infection from external sources. The seating is positioned following the necessary protocols and the office is sanitized from time to time, as necessary. Ultraviolet lamp kits are retrofitted into the fan coil units of our air conditioning unit. The radiation is lethal to microorganisms like the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19 and the AC unit operates 24/7 to disinfect and clear the air inside the office.

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Even with such upgrades in the office, Covid cases were bound to show up. So we converted one of our conference rooms into an isolation space besides renting another additional office space that can serve as a quarantine office. We continue to conduct orientation programs on Covid safety precautions with certain teams monitoring the whole force. Even mealtimes are now scheduled and separated to avoid overcrowding inside the cafeteria. Being a highly disciplined workforce, the team adhered to the protocols and made the process easier.

Prevention is better than cure 

We recognized the importance of vaccinating our workforce and held a vaccination drive for all our employees free of cost. So, today the entire workforce is fully vaccinated. But that does not mean we are relaxing. Since cases of Covid can also be asymptomatic, we conduct RT-PCR tests for employees every month. We have made N-95 masks mandatory for all employees coming to the office, which is provided by the company.

“We recognized the importance of vaccinating our workforce and held a vaccination drive for all our employees free of cost. So, today the entire workforce is fully vaccinated. But that does not mean we are relaxing. Since cases of Covid can also be asymptomatic, we conduct RT-PCR tests for employees every month.”

The ever-expanding horizons

Expansion and hiring employees proved to be a herculean task in a post-Covid world, but, with the support of a committed team managed it successfully. We recently opened a Chennai office in India – an even bigger office, housing around 500 employees. This is in addition to the office in San Francisco, USA and Kochi, India.

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Covid brought many obstacles in the hiring process, but we adapted by implementing online tests and conducting remote interviews. We are planning to recruit more than 250 freshers through campus interviews from universities and colleges across India in the coming months. In addition to the campus placement programs, we are hiring experienced candidates for various positions through the website and by online consultations. By this time next year, we are planning to double our workforce.

“Covid brought many obstacles in the hiring process, but we adapted by implementing online tests and conducting remote interviews. We are planning to recruit more than 250 freshers through campus interviews from universities and colleges across India in the coming months.”

Thoughts on navigating the pandemic and the road ahead

As a CEO, steering the enterprise through an all-pervading pandemic was challenging. The pandemic manifested the flexibility of the workforce. Work will never be the same and the future of work will be a hybrid approach combining the best of office and remote work. As a business leader, it’s imperative to understand the challenges and hindrances that an ordinary employee will face while working through the post-Covid scenario. So, it is essential to be empathetic to the concerns that the workforce exhibits. The productivity of any team can be attributed to the transparent communication and the trust established between the C-suite leaders and the employees. Our mission is to be an authentic organization, a workplace where efficiency, trust, and culture merge in harmony.

 

Apu-Pavithran,-CEO_Founder,-Hexnode (2)

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Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Hexnode (Mitsogo). Recognized in the IT management community as a consultant, speaker, and thought leader, Apu has been a strong advocate for IT governance and Information security management.

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