Productivity and Business Continuity in the Times of Crisis

A lot of sectors have been doing a lot of interesting things, and especially the domains which did not foresee such a crisis coming in. Our objective is to understand how businesses have handled this situation across and have dealt with it. 

Our Speakers

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

Advisory Board Member at ZingHR

One of the major lessons that Covid 19 has taught the world is, ‘There are no Experts’.
Nobody in the world could see this coming, and these are strange times that we are living in.
Example, at the start of 2020, technologists were talking about hacking Human Brains and going to MARS. Today we are in a situation where we cannot step out of the house.
The effect would be different to different sectors, I don’t think a standard BCP model is applicable here.
What I would suggest is, for productivity, going ahead, the organizations will need to adopt,

Fives S’s:

  • Survival
  • Basic Services to stakeholders
  • Starting operations post lockdown
  • Shape the future in new normal
  • Sustain this period

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

Head HR at My Money Mantra

Most of the organizations have always kept remote working as an option, as a backup, as a crisis scenario fighting tool. So this is a rude awakening for all organizations on how they can transform their way of working, to be remote, to be effective, that is what is going to be one of the important factors for survival in this crisis.
Productivity, in this situation, where we do not know how the world will look, will depend upon how we communicate with our people, how we are able to cross skill them and how to make the best of their time and skill.
One thing that is often neglected is the importance of continuous engagement with the employees. Having a strong communication model in place will ensure that the productivity will not drop.

Mr. Atma Godara

HR Lead at OYO

We are all very clear that these are unprecedented times and we all acknowledge across the industries. We live in an ecosystem, where everything is affected by each other. Now it’s important how we sustain this period and how we are going to change once the Covid is over. 

I have 5 key pointers in my mind:

When we say productivity – an important factor is learning and engagement. For online training, audio and video are already in place, so the key thing is engaging the learners.

Modus operandi of business will change. So it’s important to think on how we move our current traditional process to a complete digital one. 

To come out shining from this Covid 19 situation, we have to go to the first principle approach, ‘You don’t follow an analogy and start thinking from scratch’.

In post Covid World, the ratio of physical to digital will be the opposite. You will not be able to survive without digital presence. 

‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ will have to change. Your employees are working remotely. How will you keep them engaged?

Mr. Sathish Menon

DGM – HR Transformation at The Hindu Publishing Group

How do we transform our workplace into a digital workplace, what all challenges would come up during this change?  How can the mindset of senior age staff be changed via employee engagement?

Employee engagement has now changed to multiple parameters, focusing on how employees can contribute to the organization.

Organization needs to invest more in digital transformation and give better learning and development experience to all its employees. 

Apart from that, most of the employees are aware of today’s pandemic. ESS, FAQs, digital knowledge base, are helping them to get all the knowledge that they need without having to run to places.


Ms. Kriti Makhija – Chief Financial & Compliance Officer (Genesis BCW Pvt. Ltd.) Question:
Industry collaboration and best practices

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

One of the things that such times teach us is, you have to customize the practices to your firm. If you cut copy paste something that has been designed by company
A into company B that might not at all work.

There could be broad trends that could be common across all industries, like technology adoption or
remote working, e-learning.

Individual companies should consider how these
trends can be applicable to them.

Mr. Utkarsh Mishra shared his POV in the chat box:
Not a question but a thought around the topic. In the current Covid -19 situation within HR we have drastically moved to the digital world with Online trainings being a daily practice for employees, so we need to now focus more on the content we are making available to them, how it’s going to link with their work and benefit them in long run etc.

Mr. Atma Godara

While content is the king, context is the kingdom.
In this scenario, we are taking away the kingdom, so the king cannot do much. The king in this case is the trainer or the moderator. 

While we are moving the training and meetings remotely, how do we manage the interactivity like ice-breaking sessions?

We need to think on how to make these sessions more humane.  

When we completely move online in terms of training, the trainer wants to know how much impact they will have, and again there we would require innovations.

Mr. Sathish Menon

Most of the IT companies have a mandate of 40 hours of training.

Each company needs to customize this based on their business needs, and post that they can move to the
next step in the ladder.

Ms. Tina Charkabarti

When we had to design the L&D programs we heavily relied on discussions with the teams. Now when everyone is scattered, the interview process for designing the L&D plan needs to be much more thorough.

Second is learning through simulations. Effective L&D organizations will heavily invest in simulation training.

Case studies will also become the common chord for
the participants to be able to relate to the trainer.

Mr. Sameer Malik – Senior Manager – Operations (B2C Network)
Post Lockdown effects on Business

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

Effect would be varied. Like for some industries it
would be driven by lockdown. Manufacturing per say, can be sorted in a couple of weeks post the lockdown. 

Travel tourism and entertainment are the worst
affected industries. Recovery here will happen in phases.

This is the time to create a sustainable business model.

Mr. Sudipto Mandal – CHRO (Star Cement) Question:
Isn’t this a time to remind us of focusing on basics, forget jargons, do only what is important, show empathy and care, bring out the real character of an organisation in terms of how you care for employees and customers and how you stand behind them and for them? Looking for some insight from the panelists. Thanks

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

We need to have empathy. This is the time to have a simple and effective business plan, where employees can communicate, work seamlessly, raise concerns and get on with their life. We need to think outside the cocoon in which we operate. Make sure that
employees are engaged using activities like huddle calls.

How do you measure productivity when you have remote working and what are the ways we could keep the team aligned with the business?

Mr. Ravi Kikan

Important thing that you need to do when your team is
remote working is trust them. If you don’t, then you will
always have doubt on their productivity. 

Mr. Atma Godara

People are not working from home, they are over working. So it’s more important to focus on their wellbeing. Employees are managing their homes and work without domestic help. We need to switch our focus from numbers and productivity to wellbeing.

Mr. Subhash Panicker – Vice President (Newgen Knowledge Works)

How business continuity plans are being put in place by Peer Companies ?

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

There are critical and non-critical activities that are mapped out in every industry.

In this pandemic, most of the admin, logistics and HR team are trying to expand their BCP plans to include
the corona situation into it. In all industries 4 standard practices have been implemented:

Employees are given remote connectivity.

Large data are made available to them online.

MIS employees have been given large RAMS.

Autonomy has been given to people to access a wide range of data.

Mr. Sathish Menon

As far as the media industry is concerned, everything is happening. Right from the people who are supposed to deliver to the delivery point and pick up from the pick-up point is on track. However, the end result of getting
it delivered to the customer is not happening. Ecommerce is stuck, but the internal productivity is still on.

Mr. Ashwani Singhvi – Head – Human Resources (Supermax Personal Care P Ltd.) Question:

Present Scenario of Salary & Wage payment in industries across and legal validity.

Dr. D Prasanth Nair and Mr. Sathish Menon:

Please follow the government rules and regulations.

Mr. Hariharan Seetharaman – General Manager (HCL) Question:

WFH productivity techniques.

Mr. Sathish Menon

Trust the employee and see the productivity. Remotely connect with your employees over collaboration platforms. Give them sufficient infrastructure.

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

Work has intruded home. We need to understand that. Discuss with employees clarity of his role and objectives.

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

We had done our homework on how many hours of work is required from different roles to get the required outcome. This was done when people were still working from offices. Based on this, the extrapolation model has been designed to see how many calls it requires to get a viable lead, or convert a sale. This benchmark is there with us. All data is made available to employees on fingertips.

Mr. Vaibhav Naikade – Finance (Kotak Mahindra Education) Question:
What will be impact on GDP growth and economy financial crisis after covid?

Mr. Ravi Kikan

We do not know how long the lockdown or bouncing back of sectors will happen. There will be certain sectors that will bounce back and certain that will go down. 

So if there is crust at one sector there will be trough at another. 

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

It’s pure conjecture at this point in time. IMF itself is not sure of it at this time. In India, another factor that will affect us is monsoon as India’s GDP is heavily dependent on agriculture. But India is one of the few economies which probably will be above zero.

Mr. Eswar -Manager , HR (AJinomoto India Private Limited) Question:
Digitalization of which functions will help the manufacturing sector at the time of crisis where more physical presence is required?

Dr. D Prasanth Nair

Ideally all, more importantly, highly important functions. Rather than looking at functions, the manufacturing sector needs to look at processes. Relevance of functions might go away. It might move to processes in tomorrow’s world.

Mr. Ramanan –
During the work from home period, the blue collared salesmen are unable to deliver goods and take orders from kirana shops, while on probation period. What is the statutory/legal position on extending the probation by short falling days (not related to poor performance)?

Mr. Sathish Menon

For blue collar workers, we have statutory compliance norms from ESI. Apart from blue collars, for other workers, it depends on the task and target that has been assigned to them, it needs to be checked and discussed with the CEO and then can be redefined.

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

It’s a subjective question. The standard HR reply would be, the current situation is out of scope so the probation can be extended. But for how long will be organization be able to carry this person with them owing to manpower costs, will there be openings post Covid, all these answers depends on annual operational plan of the organization which will get modified due to Covid.

Ms. Sunita Tauro- Head, HR ( IPRSHow ) Question:
How do you measure productivity when you have remote working and what are the ways we could keep the team aligned with the business?

Mr. Atma Godara

Moving to basics, trust the employee. Refer to the first principle approach, ‘You don’t follow an analogy and start thinking from scratch’

Mr. Bhupesh Dinger – Director (Enrich) Question:
How will employee Emotional Health be handled remotely in future?

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti

I’m a certified coach. Don’t wait for the employee to come up to you and say, I don’t know why I’m not able to perform my job. It is required to have daily communication with any person to understand their mental health. It is reflected in the kind of communication the person is having at work, what kind of numbers are coming in, and what type of social media activity is happening. 

Structure needs to be in place for this.

HR teams need to be psychometrically up-skilled to handle emotional health of employees remotely.

Dr. D. Prasanth Nair

Corporates need to go an extra mile during these times, to show empathy and compassion towards well being of the employees.

Spirituality and meditation can help in managing your mental balance.

Mr. Atma Godara

We need certified people to understand mental health and its repercussions. Another approach is to start talking normally about the subject and not make it a taboo.

Mr. Ravi Kikan
Growth and Marketing Head at ZingHR

There are certain questions on how onboarding is managed, payroll is managed, leave and attendance. 

Snehal Kharkar – HR Manager (Abbott India) Question: Managing Onboarding at workplace during covid.

Chandrasekar Ranganathan – Head – Digital Transformation (JK Fenner India Limited) Question: How Zing HR is enabling employees to work remotely. 

Gunjan Gupta Head -HR (Diligent Global) Question: Leaves management during lockdown and how is everyone coping from appraisal perspective.

We posted BCP link in chat for same. php.php”

Closing Notes

Ms. Tina Chakrabarti
Head- HR My Money Mantra

Innovation will become a part of life
Empower your people, and believe that they can take decisions.

Be compassionate in this time, its important to communicate and respect people’s timelines since they are working 24 hours from home.

Be a business partner and do not work in silos.

Mr. Atma Godara
HR- Lead OYO

These are very interesting times and please consider them as opportunities. If you’re a team leader, please communicate, communicate and communicate. Think towards the brighter side, like Japan did after bombing.

Finally, I would like to quote 2 of my favorite quotes ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do to it’

‘And remember when you walked out of the storm you are not the same person’. .

Mr. Sathish Menon
The Hindu Group of Publishing

As a leader invest on your employees and team. Have open communication and take care of your employees well being.

Thanks to ZingHR, after 140 years, we have digitally onboarded the employees and the management as well as employees are very happy.

Dr. D Prasanth Nair
Advisory Board Member at ZingHR

‘Nothing in life to be feared, it’s to be understood’ This is the time to understand more, so that we fear less. Help people, help organizations to understand more. Be compassionate, fear less. I have a feeling and I really hope and pray that 2020 after Corona will be India’s golden time in the globe. We all need to make it happen.

Connect with Us


South East Asia

Middle East


1800 233 6504