Dr Rakshita Shharma, Vice President Human Capital, Bobble AI Technologies has been working as an HR professional for almost 30 years now. She has worked with companies like Zydus Cadila Healthcare, Ranbaxy, Intex Technologies (India) Ltd., and Ingersoll Rand. She has witnessed the HR function evolve through many stages and now as the world of work goes through another phase of transformation amid the pandemic, she helps one of the emerging startups Bobble AI transition to the new reality of work with an agile, nimble and adaptable talent agenda.
In a recent interaction with us, Shharma discusses how the current crisis will change the entire outlook of the future of work and shares how Bobble AI is managing the challenges and maximizing on the opportunities the pandemic has brought with it.
The current global health crisis has brought unfamiliar challenges for companies across sectors. As a startup, what are some of the key business and people challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
Originating from certain individuals in one section of humanity the ongoing health affliction has posed an unprecedented challenge for the entire spectrum of life processes on our planet for the past few months. An aggregated analysis of all dimensions this crisis have redrawn our attention to the saying by Kālidāsa, ‘sharIramAdyaM khalu dharmasAdhanam’ which means that one’s physical wellbeing is of prime importance and gets precedence over the means of earning a livelihood and following the philosophical precepts in life.
Level of commitment of its constituent workforce being paramount for success in any startup enterprise, their physical wellbeing cannot be left unaddressed by the management, and when seen in the context of this pandemic, their psychological health has also come to occupy the centerstage. Not only the people constituting the workforce but the health-related issues of their immediate family also assume the same kind of inevitability. This is one of the key challenges that a startup can meet by empaneling like-minded healthcare providers. It is also worth keeping in mind that prior to entering into arrangements with healthcare providers the startup identifies the likely medical needs of its workforce and their dependents through an appropriately designed questionnaire and pre-employment medical checks.
At Bobble, we could anticipate these needs much earlier and have made arrangements accordingly engaging a medical facility and also organizing psychological welfare workshops and webinars.
What new market opportunities has the crisis brought for you? How will it impact the demand for jobs and skills?
Like the proverbial silver lining in the black clouds, this crisis has had its own blessings in disguise for us.
In this challenge, we saw an opportunity for developing meaningful artwork and visuals so as to ensuring and maintaining a sustainable and meaningful communication channel between doctors and patients and the student and teachers besides their administrations. We have designed and developed message boards, platforms, etc for effective communications.
Our technical experts have perfected their techniques for visual communications in reaching out to the existing and potential customers helping them effectively transmit their messages to their customers in turn.
The demands on the skill sets of the existing workforce as exerted by this crisis have helped us identify areas needing refinement and further honing of skills which will get translated into newer criteria for job suitability.
What has been your go-to strategy to acquire these new-age skills? Hiring vs skilling, what do you prefer and why?
My go-to strategy is to hire the right person who may have the skill but definitely have the potential to learn the skill and interest to push his/her boundaries at work.
The new hiring is all about nurturing the right attitude and skilling them while at work.
The plugin play concepts can help you in a temporary setup or on a contractual basis. When you are thinking of running long, you have to plan the skills requirement and development of both the company and the individual.
The new market opportunities during the crises have actually made us more attentive to plan our strategies keeping a new perspective in mind. Where medical insurance used to be an additional perk while offering jobs by many companies, now it has become a compulsory norm to protect our people and show more empathy towards them.
From a hiring perspective, the demand is less, and supply is more but the challenge is quality, attitude, motivation.
We as a startup are very clear regarding what sort of talent we are looking for. We follow, ABC principle and assess Availability (flexible and agile), Behavior (attitude and emotional balance) and Competence.
We look for talent whose motivation to achieve is not just monetary reward. The one who wants to be part of the success story with an open mind to navigate through ups and downs of the journey.
How do you think the current crisis will change the entire outlook of the future of work? What can leaders and workforce do to prepare for these unprecedented changes?
The perspective of work as impacted by the ongoing health crisis in the world is going to get transformed for good. This has already become too evident to be missed in the entire gamut of work culture including its related dimensions like compensation patterns and location of work.
We are seeing large corporations like TCS announcing the transition to ‘work for home’ culture for the majority of their workforce in the coming future. In this matter, let me share with pride, that at Bobble we were the first organization in the country to introduce the ‘Office at Home’ concept. It is so contending to note that 88 percent of our workforce contribute their best to the organization from their homes besides contributing to reducing the ecological and economic burden on commuting to office etc. The present and future organizational leadership and workforce have to be ready to accept and introduce this ‘Office at Home’ concept.
We are now customizing our ‘Office at Home’ concept to suit the demands of the healthcare sector by introducing the concept of ‘Your Doctor at Your Home’ which is a combination product of telemedicine and mobile laboratory services. A study commissioned by McKinsey mentions that in the US the use of telehealth facilities has shown an increase from 11 percent in pre-COVID days to nearly 46 percent during the ongoing covid pandemic period. Integrating the plethora of diverse aspects of healthcare into one platform is the challenge that comes with opportunity and we at Bobble are already strategizing to successfully face this challenge as well.
Especially for startups, do you think this transition journey to the new normal of work could bring unique challenges for them? Or you think, they are better positioned to face the change?
There will definitely be a period which the historians will refer to as the post-COVID era. There is nothing like a ‘new normal’ which awaits the pandemic to be over before it is ushered in; it is just the routine normal ways of living which await to be rediscovered by a shattered and battered humanity whenever it regains the awareness of its position and responsibilities in the scheme of things of Nature.
A radical change in our perception of life awaits us when we emerge out of this morass. Rationalizing our approach to natural resources, knowledge sharing and disseminating wisdom accumulated out of experience, acceptance, and co-operation with others aiding in the intellectual and social evolution of all, healthy competition instead of the maddening rat race, will be the basic mantras in the work culture that will emerge out of their crisis. Mutually inclusive goal setting will be the guide for the good of one and all in an individual enterprise, the success of which will have to be seen as just an offering in the entirety of human enterprise.
Workplaces will have to be seen and developed as crucibles of experience, knowledge, expertise, and innovation.
The hallmark of hierarchy, in the coming times, will be cascading contribution by those in the high echelons to ensure competency, consistency, and continuity in the enterprise. These can come naturally and easy to the Indian workforce especially in the intellectual arena because our personal and cultural ethos is rooted in the Vedic tradition wherein the spirit of yajña is the core value of thought and action. Every individual contributes for the larger collective good and in turn, gets to evolve and progress in his own personal capacity as well. Indian sages of yore discovered and explained for us this spirit in each and every aspect of creation and life all around us.
Transience and evanescence of individual life derive strength to sustain from the continuity and immutability of the collective process of Life. The rediscovery of this ancient wisdom as the guide to identify as well as achieve the goals in an enterprise will be the most significant development in the ensuing times.
How are you preparing for the new normal of work? What are some key decisions you have taken for the post lockdown phase? Are you also planning for the post-covid era?
We introduced new policies for bolstering the WFH culture. The new policy enables employees to set-up a workstation at home to combat discomforts such as backaches and neck aches, as a result of prolonged sitting. To fight the Delhi summers the company has advised employees to install ACs and has ensured that it will cover and reimburse operational costs. While all team members are covered for physical health the company has extended the cover to mental health under their “Wellness in Totality” program. Experts are conducting weekly training sessions and workshops to ensure the psychological and physical well-being of employees.
The post-COVID era is an uncertain time without a clear end date. From now till the start of the post covid era there are many things that will change in the way we work, communicate, collaborate & innovate. So, we as an organization have consciously decided to be nimble, agile and adaptable as the situations change.