Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation. It is at the forefront of innovation to address the entire breadth of clients’ opportunities in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms.
Here, Pallavi Tyagi, CHRO, India, Capgemini, talks about future of work. Excerpts:
DQ: How are you dealing with the Covid-19 situation? What plans have you put in place?
Pallavi Tyagi: At Capgemini, our large global footprint and robust early warning system enabled us to move rapidly and take proactive measures to face the situation. Employee well-being and safety being our first priority, we took many proactive measures to deal with the Covid-19 situation even before the lockdown. We ensured timely and correct information delivery to employees and deployed agile methods of service delivery to our clients.
We had a robust business continuity plan in place, which included scaling up the IT infrastructure, increasing the internet bandwidth, and strengthening our VPN connectivity. Our Group IT team delivered laptops and desktops to employees’ homes along with stepwise instructions to configure and connect remotely to the Capgemini network in a secure manner via VPN. The remote working preparation deployment was done in consultation with clients and appropriate cybersecurity and data privacy guidelines.
DQ: Are you giving employees more control over their schedules?
Pallavi Tyagi: At Capgemini, flexible work option has always been part of our policy. Employees requiring flexibility in work arrangements can opt for flexible workplace or part time option where they can choose between identified hours per day or days in a week to work. These flexi work options were strongly welcomed by all our employees and see it as a great enabler in furthering one’s self-development, professional as well as personal. Even during these challenging times, we are following this policy so employees can continue to better manage their schedules.
DQ: How are you assessing on learnings from enforced experiments around WFH?
Pallavi Tyagi: At Capgemini, we were quick to assess and pre-empt the current situation. Due to all the measures we have taken to ensure employee safety and manage business continuity, 98% of our client billable staff is working from home on our client engagement very effectively.
Also, considering this is a relatively new way of delivering services to clients, we have initiated a massive and strategic communication through mailers, webinars and sessions by key IT professionals on delivering to the clients, while maintaining security protocols. We received numerous client appreciations for continuing business operations in this difficult time. Even a few security sensitive customers especially in banking, healthcare and manufacturing sector were convinced with our security model and consented for work from home for teams on their projects.
DQ: This is a challenging time for managers. What advice would you give them?
Pallavi Tyagi: In a virtual work environment, traditional “supervision” and traditional communication channels are unavailable. According to our recent CRI research note, ‘Virtual Organizations Need Real Leadership’, it is imperative for managers to put trust in their teams and ensure their leadership communications are empathetic and authentic.
Managers should also limit micromanaging a remote workforce, to the extent possible and instead provide employees with more autonomy and accountability. Additionally, in a pandemic situation, where there is a huge amount of uncertainty and fear, the employees seek re-assurance and encouragement. This makes the emotional intelligence (EI) important for leaders and line managers, so they are able to empathize with employees and their concerns and strike the right tone.
Staying connected with the employees becomes very crucial while working remotely. In line with this, we at Capgemini, initiated a Podcast series – ‘Candid Connect’, where leaders talk to employees on a range of topics like passion and motivation, experience of remote working, things our leaders do at home, stories of people who have shaped their careers and new skills developed.
DQ: How does work/life balance work in a crisis like this?
Pallavi Tyagi: Given this unprecedented situation that companies, and employees find themselves in, the well-being of employees needs close attention. Organizations can promote guidance and advice to employees for creating a balanced day, such as scheduling a start and an end time.
At Capgemini, we have come up with a series of wellness initiatives to provide our employees with emotional support. These include counselling service through our empanelled counselling service provider, regular webinars in association with our external partner about dealing with anxiety and stress related to the present situation, and a guided meditation series in association with our wellness partner on light pre-exercise, meditation and post-exercise.
DQ: How are you now facilitating digital work?
Pallavi Tyagi: We scaled up our IT infrastructure, increased the Internet bandwidth and strengthened our VPN connectivity to ensure seamless delivery to clients. To maintain productivity while working remotely, a city-wise taskforce was created to deliver laptops and desktops to a significant number of employees at their homes including UPS and data-cards.
At Capgemini, securing our client data is our priority. Therefore, we installed Capgemini custom cybersecurity tools and software in order to improve our remote surveillance capabilities to proactively detect cyber threats. For desktops,an additional process of hardening, which included encryption and installation of monitoring software was added before issuing the desktops. We also did multi-channel communication to our employees and refreshed and re-educated them on the cybersecurity guidelines to ensure safety of data while work from home.
While ensuring seamless client deliveries, we also sustained and continued to maintain our culture of engaging with employees and started innovative means of virtual employee engagement initiatives to boost morale and keep employee spirits up during remote working. One of them was the ‘Capgemini Bigg Bosss challenge’ which included activities like quizzes, challenges and contests involving not only employees but also their family and friends. Nearly 46,000 employees have been engaged through this Pan-India level program.
DQ: How do you plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’?
Pallavi Tyagi: This global pandemic has changed the way businesses think and operate. Considering that remote working can be a viable option for many we are going to see the future of work change more quickly than we might have predicted before. At Capgemini, we have already started preparing ourselves to adapt to this new way of working.
To continue our upskilling and reskilling program, we have launched Next, our new state-of-the-art learning platform. This AI-driven platform recommends personalized microlearning from renowned content providers such as Pluralsight, Harvard, Coursera, Microsoft Learn, Service Now, and many others. The platform not only provides employees the learning content which they are looking for,but enables Capgemini to push structured learning using specific skill plans and pathways.
With respect to new joiners, all our on-boarding process has gone virtual with nearly 900 new recruits on-boarded virtually. We have also launched a buddy program, where the new hire is assigned an employee of the same business unit as ‘buddy’ who can help the new joiner for the first few months with general queries that are not related to work deliverables.