Image: Arpit Jain for Forbes India
When the nationwide lockdown was announced in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, Sumeer Ladia, a manager with TeamLease Services, decided to personally call every member of his team to ensure they were equipped to work remotely, checking if they have secure network connectivity, systems and other equipment in place.
Ladia, 37, who handles the west and north region for the BSFI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) vertical of his Bengaluru-based staffing firm, has 14 years of experience in the field. He had to quickly adapt to the workplace changes brought upon by the pandemic, and ensure he makes it a smooth process for his team.
“Even though our team shifted to work from home (WFH), about 70 percent people were requesting to be allowed to come to office. This was because it gave them a routine, and once they were out of office they could disconnect from work,” he explains, adding that many people believed the WFH setup blurred the lines between work and personal life.
Ladia himself is not a big fan of working from home. Even though he prioritises safety above everything else, he says he could do without distractions like a doorbell ringing or children making noise that did not occur at the workplace. Since the lockdown, he has been regularly trying to call the five employees reporting to him directly. He does this to try and calm the nerves of his team members, guide those who are struggling with work and help them solve their problems.
“I learnt this from a former manager I worked under that productivity due to being pushed is not as good as motivated productivity,” he remembers. Despite the constraints of the current situation, he managed to keep the team productivity between 85 and 95 percent in terms of meeting targets.
After his company resumed working from the office once the lockdown was eased, hand hygiene and physical distancing is being practised, with the housekeeping staff sanitising the premises every day. But Ladia allows only 10 percent of his team members to come to office at a time. “The pandemic and the lockdown has forced people to adapt and learn using technology. The team is now comfortable using digital work platforms with ease,” he says.
Nandini (who goes only by her first name), a consultant, says that out of the four bosses she has worked with during her career, she finds Ladia to be the most accessible, helpful and understanding in matters relating to both her professional and personal life. “There are many colleagues from other teams who also want to be a part of his team,” she says. She gives an example of how Ladia let her take leave for about four months because her child was unwell. “I haven’t seen many managers do this and be able to take the team forward together.”