Covid 19 situation provides important lessons on dealing with future large-scale crises: Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO, Acer India- Tempemail

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At Acer, we make sure employees have up to date passcodes, know how to authenticate to their systems, and are aware of increased scams and phishing attempts that are happening around COVID, states Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India, as he describes how Acer is handling the Covid 19 crisis.

Some edited excerpts from a detailed interview:

From an IT standpoint, what are some of the key initiatives initiated by your organization in ensuring that business continues as usual?
As a global PC brand, we are looking to be predictive and proactive in all our decision-making to preserve business continuity and build enterprise strength. At Acer, we are navigating the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and there are a number of initiatives and steps that we are taking not only to react to severe business shocks now but also to reshape our business and plan for recovery.

While this sounds all easy and comforting, it all comes down to if and how are organizations going to sustain work productivity in times like these. The burden inevitably falls on IT teams to establish and implement sound strategies to organise a synchronized virtual workplace. This is the first significant step that involves organisations enabling their IT teams to build a fool-proof and efficient foundation for a remote workplace. This includes taking stock of company assets, systematically encrypting on-premises, mobile devices and applications such as through a secure virtual private network.

Also, ensuring that employees have the right collaboration, data access and productivity technologies to enable a baseline remote work experience. At Acer, we make sure employees have up to date passcodes, know how to authenticate to their systems, and are aware of increased scams and phishing attempts that are happening around COVID will also be a top priority for our company.

What are some of the key challenges faced to ensure a Work from Home Policy?
Remote working is more difficult than it seems. During the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic like many organizations, we are also recommending and requiring staff work from home. Here are few key challenges one might face during remote working.

Problems with technology may not get resolved as quickly as they would in the office and can make it difficult to work remotely. While the flexibility of remote work can be excellent, but challenge comes when your WiFi connection drops.

Less productive: Without co-workers around, employees may not be as productive when working from home.

Communication with coworkers or clients can easily be misconstrued.

Prioritizing work: Remote workers need to be self-motivated experts at time management because we don’t have others constantly overlooking our work or managing our time for us.

What are some of the key lessons learnt during this crisis?
Last week everything has changed. Before March 16, corporate executives were keeping an eye on the coronavirus crisis and the instability of the stock market, but it was mostly business as usual. When the government issued stay-at-home orders, everyone had to shift their priorities.

As a leader, I would say lesson learned from this crisis is that a pandemic is not your normal business disruption, it is always good to identify and prioritize your risks and develop appropriate responses. However, there are measures that can be taken now even if you’re not fully prepared.

And although its long-term consequences are yet to fully play out, the coronavirus outbreak already provides some lessons about how you can better prepare your company to deal with future large-scale crises. As the current pandemic appears just to be starting, so we will undoubtedly have to learn more lessons in weeks to come.

What are some of the technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees?

In this current scenario of Work from Home, Acer is taking precautionary measures to protect Acer employees, Acer clients, business partners and Acer itself from exposure to risks such as loss of data, virus attacks, compromise of information systems and IT assets, illegal or damaging actions by individuals, either knowingly or unknowingly, damage to the brand or business reputation and legal issues arising from these.

Our IT team has also taken enough measures to ensure that our workforce can work from anywhere and many of our services and meetings can be performed virtually. We are also addressing in-person meetings and site visits on a case-by-case basis. We have inhouse tools such as MFGPro that assesses in the clock in and clock out time of an employee. Also, we have global tools that can be used by any of our employees through a simple VPN setup.

Do you believe that the current mandatory use of remote work for business continuity is a signal to all organisations that it’s time to revisit their remote working policies and redesign them for wider application for business as usual? Please share your perspective?

The recent outbreak of coronavirus has made organizations to re-evaluate their work-from-home policies. As you can see, the work-from-home trend has gained fresh impetus in the last few weeks. It is not only an effective way to alleviate the risk of infection, but it also allows employees to continue to contribute to the company’s business without disruptions.

To make a start to adopt a remote working environment, companies need the tools, policies, and processes in place to keep remote workers connected and successfully contributing to assignments, projects, and primary business goals. Whether it’s a choice the company is making on its own or whether present conditions are forcing them to adapt, effectively embracing remote work needs leadership support to create a culture that encourages this type of flexibility.

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