We Did it - Together: Despite Physical Distancing, Team GVW Joined Hands in Preparing for COVID-19Monday June 8th, 2020 Pankaj Chipalkatti, Country Lead - Italy & Global Market Development Team
Never waste a ‘good’ crisis!
Our Europe-based Managing Director, Louis Hendriks was quite clear that this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Towards the end of February 2020, the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) had started to cause great concern through its contagious spread across Europe. Global Value Web’s (GVW) presence in The Netherlands, Switzerland and especially Italy, allowed GVW to recognize early that the disease would spread globally. India, where GVW has a strength of over 80 people, would have to be especially careful, given its vast and densely populated cities. GVW could actually prepare for COVID-19 only through a combined effort amongst colleagues.
Louis Hendriks knew that there were going to be expected and unexpected constraints for GVW clients globally as countries went into lockdown. With the enforced lockdowns, Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) analysts would struggle to make it onsite. Louis’ vision was to not only continue servicing and delivering on its client commitments, but also to absorb additional ad-hoc client requests due to the constraints they faced. It was also an opportunity to transform the way GVW had worked in the past and look to ‘The Future of Work’. Companies around the world that had earlier viewed Work from Home (WFH) with suspicion have now been forced to legitimize it.
By the time India ordered a nationwide COVID-19 Lockdown on 24 March 2020, the entire GVW India team was working remotely.
GVW today continues to service its clients with the same speed and efficiency, with great quality and compliance and assuring an improved price-performance ratio. It has efficiently processed quality data and delivered on additional client requests that included hand sanitizers overnight (Specifications related to Production & Release) and value chain dashboards as COVID-19 spread rapidly across Europe.
Here is what GVW did and continues to work on for our offices in India.
- Forming a COVID-19 Preparedness Planning Team
- Discuss, plan and implement individual and team safety measures as we prepared remote & SMART Working: The safety measures included N95 Safety Masks, generous use of hand sanitizers, discontinuing the use of biometric scanners, use of thermal scanners and oximeters, and above all, creating awareness on the coronavirus - the do’s and don’ts, so our colleagues could better care for themselves and their loved ones
- Taking Stock of our Talent and Resources: Based on our company strength in India and elsewhere, we began calculating the resources that were needed for our colleagues to perform their jobs with as little unease as possible including laptops, deployable desktops, mini PCs and internet connectivity.
- Calculated the project and service-wise system and peripheral requirements and how we could help create it for the WFH reality along with the tools that we currently had and those that were required for a seamless transition for WFH.
- Taking SMART steps in further developing our IT Infrastructure & Security to access all relevant data remotely to handle client requirements with the highest security possible.
- Colleagues staying in the vicinity of our office who make occasional visits, if permitted and under all safety precautions - (Thanks in a big way to their sacrifices).
- Assistance Protocols: We had to have protocols in place on how we manage and help our colleagues who do show symptoms or suspected illness at home.
- Communicating frequently and often through Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, or phone calls (almost daily before lockdown) were vital, ensuring our preparedness for the new reality with the inevitable lockdowns that would arrive.
- Where is home?: We discovered that some of our colleagues would prefer leaving their city of work and would rather work from their ‘native place’ - a place where they hail from and perhaps have parents or other relatives living there. We made sure that they had the right connectivity and security to work as efficiently as possible from there.
- Finally, we started the new WFH for our colleagues in batches based on teams and the size of those teams
- Continued Focus on People: No professional call begins without asking how everyone is doing. We sometimes spend longer than usual sharing humor or friendly banter as we currently don’t have the luxury of in-person meetings.
- Communicate Often: While team members communicate on a daily basis, we also communicate across functions often, if not daily, on their health and those of their family members.
- Communicating and Listening Better: We are learning to communicate and listen better during online calls as it can be quite chaotic with varying WiFi speeds and connectivity; asking people to repeat themselves, calls dropping or getting disconnected online, power disruptions, etc..
- Our Human Capital (HC) Team continues to monitor the health of its employees and also puts in efforts to make work more fun from home through regular surveys, exercise games where we add our fitness activities onto an online tool competing with other colleagues, etc.
- Making Allowance for Unusual Times: We have learned to cut ourselves and our colleagues some slack in these trying times when it comes to productivity. We delegate clearly with a start, a middle and an end in mind and check-in regularly with colleagues. We adjust, and this includes having infants or children in our arms and introducing them to our teams during a video call.
- Regular COVID-19 Calls: We continue to have regular COVID-19 calls at least two times per week; during those calls, we not only discuss each of us and our families are doing and coping in unique ways, but also looking to improve our productivity, quality and reporting through a unique set of metrics across the various services we offer.
Control the Controllables
Even with the ease in lockdown across a few regions in India, the Human Capital team continues to ascertain and analyze the wishes of its colleagues if they prefer to continue working from home or our offices. The health and safety of our colleagues is of primary importance and we plan to assess the situation every week before we make plans on ‘going’ back to our offices.
GVW is now looking at a good mix between WFH and working from a traditional office. For that to happen, we are planning and budgeting our future requirements, so we may implement them as soon as it is safe to do so. One thing though is certain - GVW is definitely not going to the old way of working.
the same technologies that people once blamed for tearing society apart might be our best chance of staying together during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Jamil Zaki, Stanford Psychologist
‘Social Distancing’ is simply, ‘Physical Distancing’. At GVW, we remain connected and invest more in each other for our long-term physical and mental health through ‘Distant Socializing’. Words like ‘Coming Together’ or ‘Joining Hands’ need not imply only in a physical sense, but we, at GVW, did it and continue to improve on it together.
About Global Value Web:
As a Value Chain Enabling Life Sciences company, Global Value Web (GVW) connects data through the Product Value Chain (the molecule’s journey from Research, Development and Operations) and the Patient Value Chain (from a patient’s illness to recovery / ongoing medications). It primarily connects the Life Science and Healthcare sectors. Through remote and on-site managed services, GVW strives to assist lab scientists and analysts, so they can focus on their core areas. GVW then manages the contextual services by gathering, cleansing, organizing, curating and analyzing the data involved.