Management: Spacing it Out

Business Today|July 12, 2020

Management: Spacing it Out
WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING NORMS IN PLACE, OPEN OFFICE DESIGNS ARE BEING TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
SONAL KHETARPAL

At 9.00 am every day, Pranav Primlani, Talent Management Specialist at Dr Reddy’s Laboratories gets out of his car in the parking lot of the company’s office in Hyderabad's Banjara Hills, wearing a mask. He then stops at the screening point, sanitises his hand, takes out his phone, and fills in the e-self declaration form about his health and travel history. A security official checks his body temperature, scans the barcode on Keep Safe, Dr Reddy’s in-house app, and updates his temperature on the app. Employees who fail to download the app are denied entry. Primlani says his heart skips a beat every time his temperature is checked, “but it is for our safety only.”

“With Unlock 1.0 kicking in and more people are allowed inside offices, we have come up with several measures that are preventive, reactive and proactive around three key pillars — Infrastructure, Process and People — to ensure business continuity,” says Thakur Pherwwani, Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Corporate Sustainability, Dr Reddy’s.

As health and hygiene becomes priority, companies are going the extra mile to ensure employee safety at work. While earlier, walls were brought down to create open office spaces to foster collaboration and camaraderie among staff, the layout has now been turned on its head. Employees are now sitting 1-2 metres away from their colleagues. Crowding around water coolers and passageways are strict no-nos. Meeting rooms are locked, and eating alone is the new normal.

The First Steps

As companies come up with strategies to maintain physical distancing, the entire workspace is getting divided into zones. Employees are being divided into groups so that the risk of contamination can be controlled in case anyone turns corona-positive.

Infosys has divided each of its campuses into two-three zones, depending on the size. “The zones are marked and work on the principle of self-governance. Each zone is a complete unit in itself and each employee has a pre-designated zone. They do not go to another zone unless absolutely necessary,” says Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President and Head of Human Resources, Infosys. It is like several offices within one single campus with separate entry, exit, canteen etc.

To keep the density in check in these “smaller campuses”, companies are scrutinising employees’ roles to determine the ones who need to come to office regularly, and those who can work on alternate days and in shifts.

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July 12, 2020