Voices from our Hotels, Tea plantations, Real Estate, Logistic Parks and Shared Services show why Work really is Love made visible! Edition II of our Community Blog is evidence of how people adjust to a calamity, what changes in them, why technology remains the biggest blessing and so much more. Read on…
Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels are pioneers of luxury Boutique hotels for over 50 years. The Park is present in India’s major cities and tourist destinations. Each hotel is…..To Know more about THE Park Hotels Read Here. Lets hear from the Director Housekeeping, The Park Bangalore, Vice President HR, Area General Manager, The Park Kolkata and Director PR & Communications and Executive Chef The Park Bangalore…
I never thought that in my 23 years of experience I would ever get to Work From Home. As a housekeeper you always have to be on your toes at the hotel, on the ground but in the current scenario WFH is quite productive and keeps you busy. With the support of our management and the latest technologies like WhatsApp, Skype, video calls and outlook mail accessibility on phone I am in constant touch with my team members. Through video calling I can direct, support and advice the team members whenever & wherever required, through mail accessibility I can check and act on all the important mails without worrying. The support of Apeejay Institute of Hospitality has also brought in lot of enthusiasm within the team to attend the on line training sessions. This way they get engrossed and get exposed to knowledge at home. Due to COVID19 even our domestic helps get time to rest and be at home safe. WFH allows me to have required balance in my WORK-LIFE. I would take this opportunity to thank the management for supporting us and taking care during this pandemic event.”
Sujata shares , “Most of our team members are now off site and based out of their homes in Work-From-Home mode. This contagion has disrupted the very way in which people live, work and connect and has created a “New Normal “. As we adapt to this new normal, working and interacting remotely, it is imperative to stay connected. Social Media and Technology has been a big support in these trying times. Through Whatsapp, we have created multiple work groups that are both cross-functional as well as specific function-based. These online groups, apart from enabling operational & transactional discussion, also serve as interactive platforms that keep people updated on what’s happening all around. These platforms also inspire, connect and enable people to be creative, to ideate and to plan for business continuity, to prepare for when we are once again back in our workplaces. Video Chats and Conferences are regularly scheduled between work groups via Zoom / Go to Meeting etc. As we work remotely, it can get lonely and depressing. Hence to be able to “see “ team mates and reporting heads is comforting and positive and further enhances connectivity. General Managers are conducting morning meeting in the form of video sessions regularly. This connectivity also sets an agenda for work and follow ups, maintains accountability and prepares for business continuity. Teams are encouraged to enhance skills and competencies during this time at home. Apart from our in-house training modules, we also encourage our teams to explore learning sites such as Coursera.org which hosts numerous free courses on business, leadership, finance, human resources, technology and much more. We have recently commenced online/e-learning modules conducted by the faculty of Apeejay Institute of Hospitality and our in-house Training Managers. These sessions are conducted live on Zoom – each session with about 30 participants. HR teams are the helpline for all employees across locations providing support and problem solving. Also through the HODs we are checking up on various teams by phone to stay connected and resolve any issues or problems. Daily check-ins with our people, providing emotional support to those who need the same, being flexible, encouraging inputs and feedback – all of these efforts and initiatives are important during such tumultuous times. For business continuity and preparation for Back to Work, we have senior level task forces that are assigned the responsibility for taking the organization ahead. I am confident that together as a team, we at Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, will come out of this world wide crisis stronger than ever before.”
Pramode shares, “Last few days, when the nation has come to a stand still fighting the covid 19 pandemic, we being a part of exempted services, have a limited team coming to work each day including me. Everyone else has been on standby at home. Our HR team is in constant touch with all the team members almost every day checking on their health, food and other essential requirements. We have also organised e-learning courses for all our associate with the help of Apeejay Institute of Hospitality. I am in touch with all my Heads of Department who are not at work with me and have been taking constant feedback on their and their teams’ well-being. We have been organising virtual meetings and also using HOD group and other sub groups on WhatsApp to effectively communicate with each other on requirements related to work or personal. Travel and stay arrangements have been made by the hotel for the team members who are working.
Ruchika Shares “A lot has changed ever since the pandemic has hit the world. Travel and hospitality is one of the worst hit industry and that has made our jobs even more challenging. In time of such crisis communications jobs become ever more pertinent. In times where there is overwhelming information available, it is imperative that we continue to constantly engage with our stakeholders, both internal and external. Our work in the last few weeks has grown exponentially especially in the pure communication space. We all are currently working from home and I personally feel that our productivity has also increased as we are saving lot of time on travel. Technology these days makes it easy for everyone to be accessible. Of course there are challenges of bandwidth and sometimes network, but we are able to manage it. Our communications teams across all our brands are working doubly to ensure correct information is being shared with all stake holders. They are supporting the operations and ensuring that all necessary help to push the right message is done. It is also the time when employees are very anxious. So to ensure everyone gets right and correct information from the relevant people. I feel great pride in working with an organisation like ours that always keeps its people first. Our chairperson, Ms Priya Paul is personally taking stock of the situation and is highly available for any crisis or a tough situation that may arise. Mr Vijay Dewan, our Managing Director is standing with all of us and guiding us in all the efforts that the teams are making across hotels. In times such as these, it is very encouraging to find our bosses encouraging us, helping and supporting us to look forward. They are present on our weekly calls and video calls and are leading by example. There are also online programs that are being designed and shared with us and we are being encouraged to upgrade our skill set. It is amazing and very motivating to work for an organisation that truly cares for our well-being. A mark of an Anything But Ordinary place.”
It is been a great learning experience to know that the world totally can turn upside down, but at any situation that one should be ready to support the Organisation and the team. The very first time I’m witnessing world wide “Lock Down” but I believe that there is an opportunity in every crises. So I started Working From Home, Thanks to the latest technologies that support me to be on my toes to accomplish all that I dreamt for. A Big Thanks to my company for standing always with the team and motivating them to do “ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY” this has helped us to provide food for 250 people every day which includes Under Privileged And Community Warriors I always enjoy what I do because it gives a sense of satisfaction and Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd motivates me to do better – I am a Proud Hotelier Working from Home.
Apeejay Shipping is amongst India’s largest privately held shipping companies. Established in 1948 in response to the burgeoning opportunities of India’s post-independence economy, it has pioneered …….To know more about Apeejay Shipping, Read Here. Let’s hear from the company’s Deputy General Manager – Techinal and Chartering and Manager – Finance
“At the outset I would like to take this opportunity to thank my organisation for taking appropriate steps to ensure safety of all employees and implementing working from home well in advance so that there could be proper planning enabling all of us to make necessary arrangements to work from home for an indefinite period. Shipping industry demands 24×7 availability, so working from home is not unusual for most of us. Apeejay Shipping’s robust IT system, softwares and hardware support have helped me and all of ASL employees to work from home without any hassle whatsoever. We are in constant touch with our vessels, customers and vendors to ensure a smooth operation. Regular inter-department and intra-department meetings are being held over SKYPE, important updates and requirements are being circulated in WhatsApp groups for prompt attention. Even the junior most employee in my department has taken up the challenge and is performing her duty diligently.
We still have a long way to go and we hope to meet the challenge of WFH successfully throughout the entire lock down.”
Work in home is not a new term for an Accountant but Work from home is really a new experience for me ! Truly speaking I am thoroughly enjoying and adapting myself. Its only because of WFH that I am able to take care of my mom who is 80 years old as well as other members of my family at this difficult time and parallely also able to meet the demand of the day to day requirements of the business (banking transactions & accounting work) as conveyed by my seniors from time to time. Watching the sunrise and sunset and listening to chirping of birds from my flat has really boosted my productivity during the day while doing regular office work. Thanks to Apeejay Shipping’s robust IT system and ERP software the transition has been smooth. I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to serve my company at this critical hour for mankind as also for our business.
Oxford Bookstores is the best equipped ‘base-camp’ for journeys of the mind offering its customers the widest range of outstanding titles and consistently courteous and informed service for close to a century. To know more about Oxford Bookstores, Read Here. Let’s hear from the Head – HR, the Creative Manager and Assistant Manager, Social Media & Events …
“This is the first time I am working from home in office hours, though the concept is not new. The key part of WFH is one needs to be disciplined and keep track of the time organizing all work and meeting the deadlines at the same time which is more challenging. If one does not have a dedicated space it is more complicated as your household work creeps in your schedule. But this WFH is very different now as it is forcing us to think innovatively and in my work area which is Human Resource I am using the technology to the utmost. Our Whats App groups are not only used for business but to share interesting articles on various behavioural trainings. An interesting practice we are encouraging is to share poems, drawings, cooking, other hobbies as stress busters. It is extremely important to take care of the mental stress of the employees as well and as stay connected with them and keep them motivated, since most employees are trying to deliver their maximum output and efficiency during this uncertain environment. So to keep them engaged I have been enrolling employees into various online and behavioural trainings alongside working at future course of actions. I am extremely grateful towards the management who took care of the finances of each of our employees – Everybody’s salaries were credited to their accounts ahead of the salary dates. There is no other better example of our organisation standing with and showing Solid Commitment towards the employees. My learning from this formatted WFH is I have organized my office space neatly, in breaks I get time with my daughter and help her nurture her art skills which is my hobby too. At the same time I am vigilant of her mental health caused by the fear of Coronavirus and being cooped up indoors away from her friend and school. We pray to overcome this time soon and Be Back to Work!.”
“I had been a PhD student, so working from home comes as a second nature to me. The one thing that I always try and follow is to have set hours for my work, because one thing that happens when you don’t have office hours is that your entire day becomes office hours. Our team starts the day with a con-call every morning to set the tone of work for the day. This con-call also is a great team-exercise as it takes away the drudgery of working alone and sets an uplifting mood for the rest of the work day. For a team that generally works on creative output, working from home has been a bit disadvantageous as a lot of our ideas also come from constant brainstorming within the office space which is not always possible in this case. Also, the same kind of scene dampens the creative output. One of the ways we fight this is through our WhatsApp group. We constantly share interesting articles, funny videos and what other bookstores and publishers are doing to keep ourselves updated as well as to have something new to reflect on. We also have colleagues who have some beautiful pets and these furry guys often make a visit in this group to cheer everyone up.
Oxford bookstore has been phenomenal in the way they have responded to the crisis. We are blessed with a promoter and CEO who have always put the well-being of the employees over everything else. From checking on us and our health frequently to making sure that we have all the tech and other support to work from home, they have been the pillars of strength and that is why Oxford has been one of the first bookstores in the country which had already planned so many online activities and have been on the forefront of doing new things online from day 1.”
Subhadip shares “Retail business is something that needs to done at the point where the business meets its customer. Overnight I have to completely work with a blind spot where everything needs to be done online without selling a single product and not meeting anyone. We need to keep our existing customers engaged and make sure that they constantly get a message that we are with them and we are together in this tough time. We have done this quite well so far by sending out suggestions as to what they should read during this period, creating videos from their favourite authors and storytellers and trying every way to ensure customers remain connected to us through social media. As a team, we are constantly in touch over phone and chat groups, constantly exchanging ideas and suggesting new creative content and taking inputs from all the team members. Each team member knows what exactly needs to be done and proactively doing it as if we are physically together in the office. We make it a point to have a conference call once every day which is more to lift team spirit as we get to hear each other something which we are so used to while in office. Our planning has helped us be prepared – my organization asked me well in advance of the lock down to ensure my team was well equipped to work from home. I allotted all data cards I always have in stock to my colleagues and since some of them are not laptop users and neither do they have a personal laptop I allotted them standby laptops from our stock. My CEO was quick to approve all temporary asset allotments. However, the most important thing is that my company managed to procure and provide all of us with safety masks and a sufficient quantity of hand sanitizers and other protective gear for the last few days that we operated from the office. This gave all of us the assurance that our safety comes first.Subhadip Mukherjee, Assistant Manager Social Media & Events, Oxford Bookstores
Ours is a retail and F&B business and during the lockdown, all our stores are shut with no business income yet my company ensured advance salary payment so that essential items can be purchased and kept in stock for the entire duration of the lockdown. This one gesture sums it all up as being a family and not just a profit-centric business. Together we will overcome this challenge and will evolve stronger for 100 more such years.”
Apeejay Infralogistics has built and operates state of the art Logistics parks with multi functional activities, Container Freight Station and Inland Container Depot, Warehousing….To know more about Apeejay Infralogistics, Read Here. Lets hear from Head – Operations of Apeejay Infralogistics
“From the beginning of second week of March, we started taking a pro-active approach in co-ordinating & consulting with all our valued business partners at both the locations, Haldia & Kalinganagar, on a regular basis to take forward the most of the business activities planned during this month for an early execution in the best possible way keeping the interest of all stakeholders in this chain, anticipating an enforcement of a lock down by respective state or union governments as was happening in other parts of the world. We share latest updates & business developments with internal team members for necessary actions to be taken, keeping our valued customers & stakeholders well informed through different modes of communications like email, phone calls and tele-conferencing so as to have minimal impact due to imposed lock down. We also have dedicated Whatsapp groups to communicate internally and externally. We are monitoring business plans from our valued clients for April 2020 and have received few business allocations even during these times. I would like to thank our Management, CEO, HR & IT Team for standing by us during this difficult juncture & extending their able guidance & all possible support. I must make a special mention here our respective site heads at both the locations & team members who are continuously discharging their duties during this highly volatile emergency period fighting all odds day in & day out.You already heard from the COO of AILPL in the last blog. If not click here to read
Apeejay Surrendra Management Services Private Limited is the Shared Services company of Apeejay Surrendra Group. Incorporated in 2000, Management Services owns the Apeejay Surrendra Brand and…..To know more about Apeejay Surrendra Management Services Read Here. Lets hear from General Manager Taxation and Manager Accounts…
This is an absolutely new experience for me of working in a full-fledged office set up from home without the people and documents being physically around. Being in Group Taxation department and heading the finance of Logistics division, the challenges were different. With the advance tax and GST payment dates getting over before the lockdown, there was a bit of relief from the tax compliance angle. The working on a loan proposal of logistics involving multiple companies of the Group was challenging. However, co-ordination with all stakeholders in legal and secretarial, corporate finance, members of other Group companies and various divisions of the financial institution helped in overcoming the various challenges. With the inability to go out, physical exercise within the home has been both physically and mentally rewarding. Added to that was doing household chores, usually outside my domain. Now eagerly looking forward to join office with the lifting of the lockdown.
“ In my field WFH was initially a little complicated and boring and had to juggle between files available at home. But after a day or two I focused on disciplining myself so I started making my schedule ahead and set a timeline completely self-directed. Then with time i realised that I could finish my work on time and end up working more without getting exhausted. Since i have never worked from home in an organised way so I took this lock down and forced WFH as an opportunity to create my own workspace! This makes me feel focused and motivated. Our team has a whatsapp group and our senior assigns the work in the group by keeping the team in the loop and also we keep each other motivated during these hard times. Since my professional field needs a continuous updation of the latest notifications, I am working, learning and updating my colleagues with the necessary notifications as and when required . One thing I keep telling myself nothing is permanent, so this time too shall pass ! .”
My work from home starts by 9.30 am. Most of the communication is done through our office WhatsApp group. Every day, we have a conference call regarding accounts with our CEO Mr Shouvik Mandal to strategize the daily work and coordinate us all. Currently we can complete around 90% of our work from home without any difficulties since we have an Cloud based Fintech software which makes things easier. Everything related to payment transfer of funds can be done through the online platform, hence no difficulty is faced by us in performing our duties while WFH. I look after the accounts of Apeejay Business Centres, Apeejay Charter Pvt Ltd, Bengal Shipyard Ltd, Apeejay Insurance Broking Services and Apeejay Surrendra Management Services. My regular work related to them is moving smoothly and any queries or requirements from our higher management or from the operations and business divisions is responded to robustly. I have also participated in a training session about “leadership in times of uncertainty and anxiety” provided to me by our company. Moreover, I have the opportunity to push the work related to the finalisation for the year 2019-20.You have already heard from GM HR, DGM Legal and Secretarial, DGM Finance of ASMSPL. If not click here to read
Apeejay Real Estate (ARE) manages Group’s commercial, residential, educational, retail, mixed use properties, fully furnished serviced offices, furnished apartments, co-working, warehousing and industrial spaces in 7 states and 8 cities of India through three company divisions – Commercial Property Leasing & Management ; Business Centres ; Warehousing & Industrial Parks. Read More Lets hear from the Apeejay House Private Limited’s Senior Manager – Projects
Amidst this Pandemic I have had no option but to stay indoors confined to my home not only for the safety of me and my family but also for the safety of my collegues and people with whom I am in contact directly and indirectly. This is just a passing phase and if we are conscious and careful will blow over and I can once again get back to normalcy or to some semblance of it until we all put it way behind us getting engaged in our daily life as before. Being in the Project division working from home is a challenge and quite frankly monotonous. All I can do from home is planning, budgeting and cost reviews, drawing and detailing, contract reviews and so on. Though now me and my team members are more focused on planning how to make up for the lost time once this lockdown is either withdrawn or relaxed, mitigate challenges that we foresee ahead, execute half-done projects that are on hold, re negotiate contracts, plan sourcing and man management, close up on working drawings though these have challenges of their own as half the sector in construction industry are not even working hence are off the grid. Production status of some materials are also in question. However all the above are only 20% of a Project, the actual 80% is being on site i.e. execution.Literally speaking I miss the challenges of execution, meeting deadlines, the thrill of a Project when it is in its final stages, thrill of mitigating on site challenges and issues, finding solutions for those unknown factors that every Project throws up, that keeps us up at nights, visualising and being on site, seeing each detail taking up shape into one single identity. Hence I am eagerly waiting to get back on track and do what I love the most – Create something that me, my colleagues and my organisation is proud of. I have been is this organisation for than 15 years now and obviously because I have always felt comfortable working here as my company had always backed me in my tough times. It can be rightly said that this is not a tough time for me as my company has let me work from home for my safety, but it’s a tough time for my Company and now it’s my turn to stand up and do what is best for my Company so that we all see through these tough times. For me staying in quarantine is like reserving the required energy and the patience required to gear up and start running once everything normalises. For past few years I have been so busy in my work that I really did not get time to be at peace with myself. Maybe I am utilising this stop gap to make up for those lost moments as I need to be up and running and be at my best, both physically and mentally to make up for all the lost time. So beside all the office work that I am able to do with the resources and I have at my disposal, I read a bit, catching up on photography (though I am still a beginner) and learning how to write a book, which is one of my Bucket list amongst many others, when I retire. Though the restlessness will persist till the time I am back on the fieldBibhas Kumar Sanyal, General Manager, Projects- Apeejay House Private Limited
“2020 personally for me has been an interesting year. I started the year with a couple of broken bones and almost 4 weeks of house arrest which involved me working from home for the first time in over a decade long career. It was difficult to adjust initially and it needed me to allocate time for each work and stay motivated to not to not slip up. Within a month of recovering we now go into a National Lock down! So honestly I am somewhat at a pro of managing things from home. The challenge however this time is- I am fit and there are chores- chores to keep the house running in the back drop of a Pandemic. So far finding out time to do what I have always hoped to do- some exercise, some hobbies and forced consumption of healthy food. I have found a deep respect for the group- and the way the management has been with us in the time of this crisis. It is a tough market but the management has extended its support in ways more than one. As individuals we are all worried and we need to have the faith that we are not alone in this . The management has been a great support at making us a part of the team- Group Chats, Concalls to stay connected on a daily basis, online workshops to boost morals with regular communication from the HR for us to learn skill sets is keeping us engaged and motivated. As they say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!”
“WFH is saving my journey time to office ! That stressful journey removed, I find myself more energetic in my work. Work from home is relatively tough because one is not actually comfortable in the home environment. Still after 2-3 days of random work stations I made a specific place in my room as my work station and work as usual as what I used to do in office. In fact I am trying to learn new tech tools which will be helpful for me in near future. I am really lucky to be part of Apeejay group who is completely employee friendly company. Before lockdown the office was well equipped with the safety measurement policy and even before the lockdown we were asked to stay home. On regular basis the management and HR department are getting in touch with me and providing guidance and help as sought. Most importantly I feel strongly that when every major organisation is facing delayed salary or pay cut we have received our salary well in advance. What more one can ask from a company!”You already heard from CEO of Apeejay Real Estate If not click here to read
Apeejay Tea is amongst India’s oldest and 3rd largest tea producer. It has 17 tea estates in the prime tea growing areas of ……..To Know more about Apeejay Tea Read Here . Lets hear from the Managers of Sessa and Jaboka Tea Estate and Deputy General Manager – Marketing
I have never Worked from Home as my key work area is Tea Tasting which I cannot do from home. So my focus now is way forward, I am in regular touch with all Apeejay Tea’s buyers to understand and plan out how best we can make a way forward for Tea Industry. As after the period is over, all the industries strategies will change, format of doing business in traditional way will change. We all have to adopt the new normal now, so I am preparing and strategizing how best we can combat the tough time coming ahead of us and how we can ensure ROI. I have also realised I am working more hours then I do at work, my mind is pushed to focus more on innovative strategies for the benefit of the business. I am doing a lot of research to map the industry movements as well. I am proud to be part of such an organization who puts people’s interest first and ensured we all are financially stable a midst of this crisis despite, where companies are delaying salaries”
Tea Estate is our workplace and Home too. There is no way people like us can Work from Home with the immense threat of the virus spreading in estates. Instead we have maintained social distancing while working. In close coordination with the district administration, and as soon as the mode of communication of COVID19 was known, we kept a close watch on people coming into our estate from other states of India. The entire team headed by the Welfare Officer and Line Chowkidars was mobilised to create awareness about the spread of the disease. We could also get the Principal of Sonari College and his team of professors to impart training on the same. Nine persons, who had travel history, were identified and a quarantine centre was set up within a day at the staff club and creche, replete with beds, curtains to separate each bed, water supply and other necessities. Daily health status of these people were monitored by the medical officer and hospital staff and daily reports were sent to the district administration. Luckily all are doing well and two of them have already been released after inspection by government health officials, while the rest will be released on 3rd April after the quarantine period is over. Food for these patients is being provided by the hospital. Gardens usually have a free movement of people, especially from people staying near the town, but due to the lockdown, all, except one exit gate to the residential areas has been sealed. We have successfully disbursed wages on 27th & 28th March with no gathering or crowding. We have delivered payments by going house to house of our workforce. Our executives and staff with support from Line Chowkidars and local police have achieved this testing task. This is a very trying time for the manager of a tea estate like me as thousands of workers and their families, staying at the estate, look up to me, like they do for my colleagues in our other 16 Estates. I have 23 years of experience in the Tea Industry and the kind of work we are putting in now to combat the threat of coronavirus in our tea community will bear results and our people will come out of this healthy and grateful for the all the work we have done.
There is no scope for WFH for the kind of work we do. At present, we are busy with home quarantines. We have been constructing new quarantine camps. We are constantly in touch with the civil administration and the govt health department, sending regular returns to government. I cannot work from home in any case because there is hardly any network in my bungalow in Sessa! For all the mails received, we have to reply from the Estate Office. Since the beginning of this week, we have been busy in arranging wages of the workforce which was paid on 30th and 31st March while maintaining the social distancing protocol. Our teams are trying to stay safe themselves and keep others safe by strictly following the prescribed protocol.You have already heard from Advisor Operations based in Assam and the GM Finance based in HO of Apeejay Tea. If not click here to read
TO BE CONTINUED…
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