Life in the time of lockdown for HR leaders – A sneak peek

HRKatha finds out how life is treating a few HR leaders in their newly adapted telecommuting lifestyle.


When reality hits hard, we all get accustomed to the most unexpected situations that come our way. Almost two weeks into the lockdown, each one of us is dealing with the crisis, in our own way.

We can either choose to play the victim and be gloomy about being alone or look at this as an opportunity for self- awareness, self- care and solidarity. There is always a silver lining in everything, and that’s what some of the HR leaders seek to look at, even in this lockdown period.

HRKatha spoke to a few of them to find out how life is treating them in their newly-adapted telecommuting lifestyle.

Rajesh Padmanabhan, group CHRO, Welspun Group

Rajesh Padmanabhan

For Padmanabhan, nothing much has changed when it comes to his early morning routine. An early riser, his body clock ticks at 5 in the morning. With the temporary shutting down of gyms, his workout venue seems to be the only change in his daily regime. Undoubtedly, exercising outdoors has added health benefits, and the gym fanatic considers this change in his workout regime has happened for good.

Apart from attending calls and managing his team since 9 in the morning, Padmanabhan also manages to spend most of his time helping his wife in her household chores. From sharpening his domestic skills to recreating new mopping techniques, he also indulges in chopping vegetables to help his family, although he hasn’t tried his hands in cooking yet. Padmanabhan thinks that the lockdown has helped him be close to his family and spend the maximum amount of time with his children.

As an HR leader, the biggest reflection in this lockdown period has been his empathy towards his domestic helps, for the amount of work that they have been doing, without much appreciation.

Since he has been missing his biking trips lately, Padmanabhan has been up to some stimulation biking. Weekends, on the other hand, are just as usual for the HR leader, who prefers attending less calls and spending more time with family.

Padmanabhan believes feels the intensity of work has certainly increased in the lockdown period. Along with an end number of meetings and attending calls, he is more focused on his work and team management at the same time. He says, “At the start of the day, the priorities are set and we aim to fulfil them before the day ends. There is better collaboration, connection, efficiency and clarity in the work.”

Padmaja Alaganandan, chief people officer, PwC

Padmaja Alaganandan

If there is anything Padmaja Alaganandan finds surprising during this lockdown period, it is the increasing work pressure and intensity. The avid traveller is enjoying the quality time with her family, now that she is not travelling. She likes pitching in for some of the cooking over the weekend – experimenting and discovering ingredients in her cupboard she has forgotten she had. Her little garden is her abode where she likes listening to birds and seeing the plants blossom now that spring is here.

Focusing on overall well-being has never been more important as it is today and Alaganandan has been trying to be ‘mindfully grateful’ and appreciative of all the good things in life.

Her work day starts at 8 am, earlier than her usual time. And before that, she does whatever she can for the household and her family. Once work begins, it is difficult to predict when it will end. For Alaganandan, remote workdays are all about incessant calls, virtual meetings and collaborative tools.

She takes short breaks and goes for a walk in between calls/ meetings. Her pet dog, Sasha, is a regular visitor to the home workspace and has joined in some of her calls too! Amidst this schedule, she also manages to take Sasha out for short walks frequently.

The HR leader catches up on some extra sleep during weekends. Making up for her busy weekday schedule, she invests a lot of time on herself, reading a little, watching at least one movie, and even mopping to get much-needed exercise!


Alaganandan is proud of how the organisation and the employees have seamlessly adapted to this new remote style of work.

Emmanuel David, director, Tata Management Training Centre

Emmanuel David

David sees this lockdown period as more of an opportunity and full of possibilities, rather than a menace to cope with. He is often found to be reading books on management and leadership. Currently, he is halfway through Platform Revolution.

He thoroughly enjoys thrillers and detective fiction as well. As this crucial time has demanded less human contact, writing e-mails to his family and close friends also keeps him occupied for quite some time.

As the HR leader was not keeping well prior to the lockdown, he is utilising the maximum time to recover through regular breathing exercises at least thrice a day. His day begins with simple floor exercises to tone up his body, followed by a strict diet. With all travelling put on hold, he is able to indulge in a sport or two quite often.

When it comes to dividing the household chores fairly, he takes charge of the kitchen and hones his cooking skills by trying out new recipes and delicacies which the family fondly relishes.

At the same time, David is also unlocking the remote workforce. He is keeping his team engaged through webinars, Microsoft teams and with regular check-ins twice a day. He is in touch with his team extensively with regard to the upcoming launches and is constantly motivating them to cope up with the crisis.

With spirituality being a huge draw for David, his ‘me’ time is spent reading scriptures and meditating on them. He spends a significant amount of time in prayer, not just for himself but also for his loved ones.


  1. Very timely to open dialogue space. Please add where they can be reached out to share learning’s insights and network for future.
    Will be interested to read responses from the teams of these three veterans in HR.
    Does HR Katha interview Senior Profs of Premier B Schools on the same question ?
    Thanks for linking thought behind actions of three HR evangelists.

  2. This candid look at the WFH lives of these 3 HR leaders is interesting and informative. A common theme is their flexibility to adapt, without fuss or fretting, and leverage the potential that this situation offers, to catch up on personal time and space. The ‘Future of Work’ is here!

  3. Being in the HR fraternity myself, I found the article interesting; especially the point about WFH being more intensive .. this resonates as I feel the same.

    One advantage in office is that you can do quite a few varied things within an hour. However, when working from home things tend to happen in a more sequential manner.

Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

one + 3 =