Fumigation of office premises, closed cafeterias, redesigned open plans, no meeting rooms — these are just some of the measures being considered by one of the Big Four, KPMG, in the world of work post lifting of lockdown, where social distancing will still be the norm.
The professional services giant is also planning to use floor markings, which means demarcating places with stickers, tapes and posters for social distancing. It will ensure that medical isolation rooms are located closer to entry points.
Speaking to HRKatha, Unmesh Pawar, partner & head, people, performance & culture, KPMG India, says, “Social distancing is going to be the new normal or new way of life in the near future. We believe that the ‘six feet office’ and physical distancing are here to stay.”
Now that the cafeterias will remain closed, employees will have to eat at their own desks. Isn’t that the first step towards social distancing?
For employees to return to their offices safely, Pawar believes that the whole exercise will have to be undertaken in a planned and disciplined manner to ensure that everyone is safeguarded. “Rostering will be implemented so that all the employees maintain social distancing. Employees will come to office or work from home as laid down in the roster,” he explains.
Although the Company is unsure about the number of employees to return to work, it is planning to resume in a phased manner with limited staff desks occupied in office at any given point in time.
Based on the current situation, KPMG has ensured that its staff continue to work from home until the lockdown continues. “This is an evolving situation, and if we have to take additional precautions, we will take them as the health and safety of our employees is extremely important for us,” adds Pawar.
Although the Company claims to have an agile working environment, enabling it for 100 per cent of the workforce was challenging initially.
Business Continuity Plan
To deal with the COVID-19 crisis, KPMG initiated the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) by ensuring availability of critical infrastructure, enhanced network bandwidth and VPN capacity, so that employees can work from a remote location and access enterprise applications securely, without any disruption.
As part of the BCP, the Company has also taken several measures, right from scaling its infrastructure to supporting the staff pan-India and providing round-the-clock IT support.
Pawar states, “Our IT support team played an instrumental role in providing prompt support to the business, addressing any technical issues whenever required, just in time.”
To ensure productivity, KPMG has also leveraged cloud-based audio and video conferencing platforms that help efficient communication and collaboration.
This is an evolving situation, and if we have to take additional precautions, we will take them as the health and safety of our employees is extremely important for us
Security being of utmost importance, the Company is constantly updating to ensure compliance. “We are regularly updating user endpoints with latest security patches and our team is also monitoring the tools to ensure efficient operations 24/7,” shares Pawar.
As the pandemic is a testing time for people across organisations, it is also important to keep the employees engaged for any business to continue in a remote working culture.
Pawar believes that employees are the drivers, movers, shakers and breakers of any organisation. Therefore, “If we do not utilise our employee fuel effectively, efficiently or strategically, businesses will see an impact,” he points out.
Keeping these aspects in mind, KPMG has initiated some outstanding employee-experience activities to build organisational resilience.
Aptly named Vitamin jOSH, this series of activities is meant to ensure the well-being of the mind, body, heart and home of the KPMG work family.
The series comprises activities to relax the mind, manage financial stress and keep the body and heart healthy through yoga, dance and workout sessions. The jOSH series also includes guidance sessions and material on parenting along with activities for kids.
Pawar explains that these combined activities, as a part of the remote-working routine, help bring out the productive best in the employees.
Apart from the well-being initiatives, Pawar also stresses on the importance of upskilling and reskilling employees so that they remain productive and motivated. To this effect, KPMG in India has introduced the Stay at Home Learner Series, that comprises training sessions for employees across levels, aimed at improving interpersonal communication and soft skills.
The professional services giant has recently launched its very own online university, where KPMG India professionals have easy access to a repository of virtual-learning resources, comprising compelling articles, videos, as well as free-access courses from some of the best universities in the world.
“We are also encouraging our employees to take up anything that piques their interest or start with a skill they want to build,” reveals Pawar.
Furthermore, KPMG also has a mediclaim policy for employees, with an inbuilt COVID protection cover. This provides employees the option to top up the cover to secure their immediate family.
The Company is truly striving to adapt to the changing times and be prepared for whatever the future may hold.