Working in Ireland from India - My Organisation's Response to the Pandemic
I would never forget the second week of March 2020. I was excited to visit India after a year and a half of completing my masters and working in Dublin. Coincidentally my flights were booked for the same week the lockdown was announced. I could not amend my booking on time and there I was, on a long flight to India. Luckily, I was able to reach home safe.
As the lockdown and travel restrictions are still in place, I am fortunate enough to continue working from India for Next Generation as a Digital Recruiter. I came across an article by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on People Priorities in Response to COVID-19 and wanted to unravel the events of that week to highlight my organisation's timely and supportive response covering all the key people aspects in line with the article. The link to the article is below if you would like to read (highly recommended!).
The BCG article categorises the response under seven core priorities, which are as follows: Accelerate smart work, enhance health and hygiene, mitigate people risk, manage workforce flexibility, communicate openly with empathy, stand together and speed up digital readiness. These seven topics can be clubbed into three main categories, people health, workforce readiness and, communication and support culture. Under each of these categories, I have further elaborated on my personal experience of my organisation's response to COVID-19.
Even before the lockdown and remote working was in place, to avoid the risk of transmission, we were informed to conduct all the onsite client/candidate meeting online. Keeping in mind our health and hygiene, physical contact within the office was discouraged and sanitisers were at everyone's reach. I was impressed to see the logistics provided and work from home arrangements made within a few hours, exhibiting our digital preparedness.
The flights were operational when I was set to leave Ireland but due to the uncertainty of the situation, I wasn't sure of my flight back within two weeks. All of us in the office weren't sure of our return to the office within two weeks as well. It was a tough decision for me to make and the assurance that I can work from India if I can't fly back to Ireland in the worst-case scenario was very helpful. Their readiness to accept my situation gave me a huge sense of relief and a heightened level of trust.
Communication and support culture
One week passed by under the lockdown and the situation was getting worse, the number of cases increased rapidly. As predicted, the lockdown was extended and all the flights back to Ireland were cancelled. Although I was told that I have an option to work from India, I was worried and was considering getting back to work even before my annual leave got over. That is when I experienced our support culture. I was able to convey my worries and communicate my problems openly and was happy to get an empathetic response. There has also been an emphasis on upskilling during these times and to do so, all the necessary support is being provided.
On my arrival, I was home quarantined for 28 days which came along with the poster outside our place letting people know not to visit our place. The healthcare professionals checked in on me twice a day until the quarantine period was over. Immense respect to all the front line workers for their efforts during these difficult times.
It's been an amazing combo of working and valuable family time. All these days of working from India, I have never had any difficulty to continue working as usual and I strongly believe the prime reason to be Next Generation's people priorities in response to COVID 19. The enormous amount of support that I received from the management and support teams, as well as all my colleagues is noteworthy. It is important that organisations keep people as their priority while they respond to this fundamentally people-based crisis. I can proudly say that Next Generation has done this by establishing a culture of upskilling, trust and support.