Aeris Communications

Managers need to follow the RSEL principle: Akshay Mehrotra, EarlySalary

EarlySalary is an innovative lending platform that will change the way loans in India are taken. Being a new age online brand, we bring together new credit scoring systems for superior customer profiling.

Here, Akshay Mehrotra, Co-Founder and CEO of EarlySalary, tells us about the future of work. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: How are you dealing with the Covid-19 situation? What plans have you put in place?

Akshay Mehrotra: We have implemented the DRP plan in the first week of March before the lockdown was announced and created a capability of 100% remote operations. Currently, all our 242 employees in the company from the technology department to product or contact centre department can effectively Work-from-home with 100% productivity levels.

We have offered the 90-day moratorium to our customers who are facing financial difficulties and are continuing to lend to our existing customers, nearly 30,000 loans have been disbursed during the Covid-19 period and also hosted online financial wellness seminars which have been organized and attended by thousands of customers. We have also started new customer acquisition to help them and cater to their credit requirements.

DQ: Are you giving employees more control over their schedules?

Akshay Mehrotra: The ability to manage schedules is critical in case of remote working. Moreover, the lockdown period is not same at normal work from home, hence our normal HR policies won’t be enough for such a work from home scenario. We have introduced three new things:

a) Morale improvement and feeling of family, we organize mini-town halls on Google Meet/Zoom for employees in every two weeks, Yoga sessions are conducted every day at 7 am in which teams can join-in, share regular updates, online classes and enhance social interaction among team members.

b) We have started across board training and skill up-gradation programs for the team and most importantly build cross-department training skills to help employees share work, when the load is higher.

c) Transparency on what task you are doing, whatever assignment you take up is delivered with quality and on-time. This is important in a cross dependency roles.

DQ: How are you assessing on learnings from enforced experiments around WFH?

Akshay Mehrotra: People love to learn. Almost no one wants to waste time watching TV and come out of this lockdown as not learned something new. We are implementing this across the company and see more than half of the team members opting for a skill upgrade plan, and interestingly many new hobbies are also getting created.

We have two people learning guitar, and many employees are opting to learn new languages like Japanese, French, and Chinese. Employees are participating in dance classes and also offering other team members to join and learn. We have started to have special masterclasses in office:

I took one loyalty program to induce an insight into the broader team to build one for our customers. We have many team members taking such masterclasses to make the best use of knowledge gained. We have organized expert talk from key mentors and business leaders where we have had three business leaders from other companies coming in to host a special learning session for our employees and help build a new thought process.

DQ: This is a challenging time for managers. What advice would you give them?

Akshay Mehrotra: I follow four rules (RSEL):

a) R (Follow a Regime and stick to allocated times).

b) S (Share more, maintain open calendar, tell exactly what’s going on in the company, don’t hold back things).

c) E (build on Empathy, it is not easy to work from home, you have kids running around, you have no fixed table and chair, no quiet place, poor shared Internet connection, and lastly

d) L (Learn to listen more).

DQ: How does work/life balance work in a crisis like this?

Akshay Mehrotra: Honestly, it doesn’t. There is no balance in a crisis, and that’s why it is called a crisis. Learn to do your best, when getting tired, acknowledge that and take some rest, stay positive, and most importantly you need to be busy and work is the best way to keep yourself busy. But, don’t forget this may be the best and probably, the last chance to spend time with your kids and family which you have missed for many years. Make sure of using this time wisely.

DQ: What are the policy responses you would give to the MSMEs and SMEs?

Akshay Mehrotra: Save on cash, make sure you just survive this crisis, nothing better than liquidity, and be agile to find new ways to improve profit and loss.

DQ: How are you now facilitating digital work?

Akshay Mehrotra: At EarlySalary, it is easier for us to facilitate digital work. We are running a 100% digital company and worked for the last 5 years to build automated work processes. Currently, most of the businesses are executed on full automation. It is about building for the future which needs facilitation and we use hyper collaboration tools especially for product management and tech development.

DQ: How are the latest technologies going to redefine the workplace?

Akshay Mehrotra: A combination of automation and establishment of working remotely with full collaboration will redefine the workplace. Moreover, the roles that demand proper office infrastructure will be asked to shift, where the person can do the same amount of work from home or a remote location. With the help of the latest technologies and online-programs, work-processes will be easier and faster, clients won’t push for face-to-face discussions, neither they would need to travel to a client-based location to do a presentation.

DQ: How do you plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’?

Akshay Mehrotra: As digital workplaces are going to be the new normal, organisations should focus on redefining the internal process and make them extremely employee-centric, so that location shouldn’t be a barrier towards doing business. With the help of technologies and software programs, the organisation should ensure easy log-in from remote locations, a seamless collaboration between teammates and cloud-based operations in all departments, including business development, marketing, customer care, etc.

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