Their resilience shown during lock down makes Work From Home look like a cakewalk and this is why we present teams on the front lines across our industry verticals as Apeejay Heroes. These Apeejay People keep ours and our client’s businesses running, secure assets and communities connected to our businesses healthy.
In Ballabhgarh, Delhi NCR Prakash Ranjan, Senior Manager, Facilities and Projects has taken charge at Apeejay Global Industrial and Logistics Park, Ltd. “Logistics and warehousing is a crucial field. Especially in this unprecedented scenario the facilities need to be monitored because we have clients who are essential service providers and e commerce majors. Our 24 member security team along with 7 housekeeping staff are ensuring safety & hygiene of the premise. I visit daily as I have to be on the field but it is our security team and housekeeping people who are the real heroes. My home is 16 KM away but honestly I do not feel the distance nor do I feel fear. This is the time to maintain the business continuity and I have to and am doing my best to keep our Park’s operations as smooth as possible. As a service provider we have a huge responsibility in this time of crisis when supply chains can get clogged. I am happy the organization is putting the real heroes in front” Ranjan’s right hand is Rohit Kumar, Housekeeping incharge, who, adhering to all Covid 19 prevention guidelines, is at work everyday!
In Chennai, Tamil Nadu U. Ravichandran’s used to oversee electrical maintenance but the known multitasker has taken complete charge at Apeejay House which houses the Apeejay Business Centre. “ Not only is it my responsibility to take care of my workplace of nearly 20 years but it is my duty to support the company in these dire times. I know every corner of our property like the back of my own hand so I am best placed to help. I am supported by our security team of Abdul Ali and Ravi Shankar. I stay near our office and have taken over the premises responsibility, monitoring movement, supporting the remotely located IT team for managing the IT infrastructure and closely working with our ABC Chennai Head Ms Jacquelene Rodriguers,who stays far and cannot visit.”
In Kolkata, West Bengal Krushna Chandra Giri, Security Incharge, Apeejay House, on Park Street is holding fort. “It does look like we are frontlines but this is our Job to take care of the properties of the organization, more so during this time of crisis. This is the time when the organization and management must feel safe that we are on our posts and doing our duties. Yes, there is no doubt the health risk is very scary but if people like us get scared then we should not be on this job in the first place. Besides it is our turn to support the organization in every possible way. In the current situation I am managing a 12 member team. Yes. no doubt that we all are scared but I keep motivating my team with stories in my own way and ensure that whatever they do, I am with them, solving issues on the field. Apeejay House is a commercial building , while most organisations other than our own group companies housed here are working from home, there are tenants like Kotak, IDFC and Standard Chartered who are open so we have to be operational. The organization is ensuring that we are safe, all essentials things are being taken care of for us and managers are visiting as often as they can during the lock down”
In Salt Lake , Kolkata, Debashish Mondal has taken responsibility of managing security, front office and providing support to the IT team in manning the IT Infrastructure in Apeejay Business Centre. He cycles for almost 2 and half hours everyday to reach office and says, “I live a bit far away but that does not stop me from performing my responsibilities fearlessly. Our job has always been on the front end. In this crisis which is extremely complicated our responsibility has increased. We cannot wash our hands off and stay home in fear. The organization needs our support. Yes, my family feels worried but the company has ensured our full safety, arranged for our essential requirement and since we are always inside the premises and adhering to strict guidelines we do not need to worry. Besides if we worry we cannot perform our duties and I have good support in Sheikh Motibur Rahman who is also on duty responsible for the roster that changes after every 4 days.“
In Mumbai, Maharashtra, Samba Sarkar, Regional Manager Facilities and Administration, In-Charge of ABC Mumbai (Vashi and Churchgate) says “ We have a solid team on the field who have been associated with the organization for more than 25 years now. All essentials, safety requirements has been taken care of by the company. The team is well equipped to handle any kind of issues me it maintainance, operations, electrical issues and IT Infrastructure I am in constant touch with the team” . The team he speaks of is 19 years old in Apeejay, Radheshyam Jaiswar who is coming to Apeejay Express commercial property in Vashi every day looking after the security guards, and clients whose offices are open, to ensure they have the amenities they require to run without a hindrance. Keeping Covid 19 prevention protocols front & centre, Radheshyam has taken over managing the pantry feeding the security team and looking after housekeeping. He is the third generation of Apeejay People, his grandfather was a liftman, his father was a driver with Apeejay House Mumbai while he has worked through Oxford Bookstore Mumbai before going to our Vashi property. In Apeejay House, Churchgate, Umesh Paswan who has been with the organization for 25 years is holding fort along with the security team and ensures their food requirements are met.
Radheshyam Jaiswar at Vashi (Top) and Umesh Paswan in Churchgate (Bottom) of the picture
Whether it is Anupam Ghosh who has been staying at the office since 23rd March or Debasish Mondal who rides a bicycle for two and half hours, or Rahman who uses a bike to reach office by 6:30 am in Kolkata OR whether it is Anand Shahi and Pratap Bashera who walk for about three hours every day from their homes to reach office in New Delhi to start a shift between 8:00 to 8:30 AM OR Ajay, a resident of Sukhrali-Gurgaon who walks 4.4 km one way every day and Sonu who is a resident of Aya Nagar riding a bicycle for 6.5 km each side for his night vigil in Gurgaon. these foot soldiers are Apeejay Real Estate’s heroes.
Lets hear from the heroes of Apeejay Infralogistics who are not working from home. To know more about Apeejay Infralogistics, Read Here.
After the lock down was announced, we first obtained permission from the district administration to run our logistics park and arranged for a vehicle pass so that the staff could come to work The Kalinganagar Park is fully operational with daily offloading of cargoes going on. During the lock down, we have stuffed 18X20 containers and moved them from the ICD and delivered the cargo to our client who is a Steel major coordinating with all stakeholders. We have also planned destuffing of of cargo and moving these to the client. Along with work front, I have to look after my family. For essential commodities, the District Collector has allowed purchase of goods from 6 am to 10 am. So for a week, I had to go to the market everyday at 6 am by cycle to buy vegetables and ration after which I leave for office. I return from office at 6 pm after which I sit with my daughters for their studies. I am able to help my wife with household work only on weekends.
“Haldia is being recognized as a Hotspot. We are closely associated with the Port and are part of essential services. We have a domestic warehouse dealing in various cargo including daily house hold products of a multinational corporation so we are operational. Our CFS is operational and completing site activities. Daily plans are made, dynamically tweaked around, we receive advisories on rotational duties, are given flexi hours for comfort, safety and family. The site is strictly monitored for social distancing and required PPE. We feel fear too but we are overcoming it to perform activities that need to take place. Our CEO is in touch with all of us multiple times a day reassuring and organising. Hope the situation changes soon and people can reduce their physical distance and rejoice again together. Things are unprecedented and ambiguous. The health crisis is stunning and rightly so restrictions are being put in place to manage that crisis but there are devastating effects overall.”
Let us hear from heroes of Apeejay Tea who belong to an industry where workplace and home are the same place! The Welfare Officers of Budlabeta, Napuk, Khobong, Hokonguri and Hilika Tea Gardens explain how they have been managing the work in this hour of crisis.
Early in the month of March when WHO declared Covid19 to be a pandemic, we, the people of Budlabeta, conducted several rounds of awareness about the disease at the residential areas of the workers, gardens, factories, schools and hospital. We used 17 of our school teachers in the awareness drives. We pursued vigorous awareness drives each day where the workers were taught to make low cost face masks at home, need for hand sanitizing every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, prevent them from touching mouth, nose and eye, maintain social distance, stay indoor, not to allow any outsider to enter our Estate’s residential area and isolating people coming in from other states of India. All Line Chowkidars were strictly reporting to either me, the Welfare Officer or Medical Officer if anybody from outside enters their respective line. Using this process, we could identify 20 people and quarantined them after a proper medical check up was done.
We have created a total of 26 bed quarantine centres at the Labour club, Staff Club and Hospital isolation ward. The District Administration visited our quarantine centers and highly appreciated our effort. As the need for sterilization of residential areas gained ground, we conducted a sterilization drive in our neighboring areas, including No 8 township till Doomdooma Town, sponsored by our local MLA. This effort was highly appreciated by the town committee. We also disbursed rations at Anganwadi centres and schools and paid yearly bonus to 4000 workers of the estate maintaining social distancing protocols. I stay at the estate bungalow with my 72 year old mother while my daughter is in Guwahati as she is studying there. She could not come home due to lockdown. I am very happy that my mother is now with me as one has to take care of the elderly during this time. Fortunately, I had a stock of groceries before the lockdown was announced. We share the groceries and vegetables with the locals.
As a senior welfare officer, my daily work during lockdown includes monitoring of deployment of mandays for essential services like hospital, water and power supply; visiting quarantine centres at the estate where 8 people were quarantined; visiting workers’ colonies to take information on any persons entering from outside the estate, especially from other states; arranging Line Sanitizer Spraying covering all residential houses; updating and mailing government on return of persons and quarantined persons; visiting Deputy Commissioner’s Office for attending their meeting on COVID – 19 status and obtaining necessary permission from district administration for collection of wages from banks and distribution of ration to the workers; arranging door-to-door labor wage payment, visiting hospitals for monitoring OPD patients with the Doctor and boosting the morale of the hospital workers during lock down.
In the post lock down period, we had to regularly monitor provisions of hand washing facilities, wearing of masks and maintenance of physical distancing at the workplaces and workers’ colonies, regular monitoring of all entry points of workers’ houses to restrict movement of outsiders in the garden and also daily monitoring of deployment of bare minimum workforce as per SOPs laid down by district administration. A nodal committee has been formed to monitor SOPs as advised by the district administration. Masks have been provided to all workers on the day of resumption of work and hospital OPD, factory entrance have been marked with 1 metre distance to maintain physical distancing. Hand washing facilities have been provided at office, factory, hospital and fields. We have also arranged awareness-cum- training seasons frequently for the medical and paramedical staffs jointly at Napuk and Suffry TE Hospitals in collaboration with the neighboring estates of Charaideo district.
Our key challenge during this period was door to door delivery of wage distribution to all eligible workers, as instructed by district administration to avoid mass gathering, since it is an individual risk to carry wages in the workers colonies. Once the full workforce comes in to work, I think all workers will have to wear masks and continue hand washing practices and that will be good from their personal health and hygiene point of view. Although work has increased manifold now, I don’t think there is any additional burden on us as we have to face this situation and make all efforts to overcome this deadly pandemic There will always be a threat of infection till the time a vaccine is discovered. Therefore, we will have to follow all SOP guidelines to combat COVID -19 and comply them in the garden apart from maintaining all activities of statutory obligations of Plantation Labour Act in the garden.
My family comprises myself, my son and my wife who is working as a Govt. High School Teacher at Makum Girls High School, Tinsukia district and stays at her own house in Makum Town. My son, Ritom, is studying Masters in Social Science at Dibrugarh University and is currently staying with his mother at Makum due to the lock down. My only source of communication with them is my mobile phone through which I can find out if they are in good health and if they need any help.
As soon as the lock down was announced, each and every executive at Khobong Tea Estate was on alert and we started conducting awareness sessions among the workers. As a welfare officer, my prime duty is to protect almost 1957 families living in the estate, make them aware about the pandemic and also taking care of their families. At first, we sealed all entry and exit points leading to the workers’ houses in the estate following the lock down and started spreading awareness through mike announcements. People were made aware about washing hands for 20 seconds, usage of hand sanitizers, wearing masks, maintaining social distance, maintaining hygiene and staying indoors. We faced a major challenge as 32 youths, who were working in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chennai, Bihar and Bangalore, had returned to the estate prior to the lock down. They were immediately referred to Tinsukia Civil hospital for check-up of any infection and the matter was immediately brought to the notice of Joint Director of Health Services, Tinsukia, ALC Office & Talap Police station. The doctors advised them to stay in home quarantine for 14 days and report any fever, dry cough or any other symptoms related to Covid 19. Their health was monitored daily by Asha workers. Finally, they completed 14 days home quarantine without any symptoms. We started to spray disinfectant on war footing at all the residential areas, hospitals, creches, schools and offices of the estate. The PHC, Tinsukia helped us by providing disinfectant for the above purpose. Another major challenge was disbursement of bonus and ration. Designated places have been marked for maintaining distances between workers and mandatory hand washing in the disbursement area. The District Administration and Assistant Labour Commisioner’s Office were kept in loop and informed of every activity happening in the estate be it bonus payment, fortnightly wage payment, ration issue, spraying of disinfectant, etc. After the garden reopened on 13th April, our work as a welfare officer increased. In addition to spreading awareness on basic hygiene to workers, our additional responsibility was to be present and check each worker personally during leaf weighment and break time as well as strict monitoring of social distancing and hand hygiene. All workers were provided masks as well as hand wash facility at workplaces. Daily welfare jobs like repair work, water supply and maintenance became a big issue as we did not have supply of any repair materials from the supplier due to the lockdown. We assured the workers that their complaints will be attended as soon as normalcy returned.
Apart from looking after my workers and our tea community, it was also my priority to keep my family safe during this time. I stay with my 3 year old daughter while my husband works in Guwahati and stays there. As my office and workplace is near my bungalow, I go and spend time with my daughter during breaks. I stayed in touch with my husband during this whole time through phone and video calls. I thank my manager for all the support he has given me and our team in these difficult times.
As a welfare officer, my responsibility grew manifold after the lock down was announced. My daily task involved monitoring of lock down across the estate, organizing meetings with Line Chowkidars and taking reports on any unauthorized entry in the garden, creating temporary isolation ward for quarantined persons, spraying of sodium hypochlorite along the residential houses of workers, staffs and executive bungalows twice daily, conducting awareness meets on social distancing door to door as well as using mikes, disbursement of rations and monitoring of home quarantined persons on a daily basis. Post lock down, my primary responsibility was to see that all government SOPs were maintained at the factory and field across all challans in the divisions and supervising the maintenance of social distancing protocols at work. Other key responsibilities included making reports and doing budget entries which sometimes took up late nights as the work load in the field and factory had increased.
My parents stay in North Lakhimpur. My father runs a poultry farm and runs a PG for college students while my mother is a housewife. I have an elder sister who stays in Guwahati with her husband. Although I couldn’t see my parents due to the lock down, I kept in touch with them over phone and sent money to my mother’s account for household expenses.
As the lockdown started, our main concern was whether our workers and tea estate communities were following precautions necessary to keep Covid19 at bay. There are 865 families staying at the Hilika estate and the total population is 6035! Early in the morning, we used to go out with an ambulance and use its miking facility to request them to stay in their houses, wash their hands regularly for 20 seconds at least, maintain social distancing and various information about the disease. We also used the mike facility to tell them about ration distribution, fortnightly payments and bonus disbursement and how this would be done maintaining plysical distance. From 26th March, we started spraying disinfectants near their houses and from 28th March, we started distributing rations in a phased manner calling two Residential Lines every day following social distancing protocols. On 21st March we made our first fortnightly payment of wages and on 30th & 31st, we paid them the remaining 7% bonus of 2019-20 calling the permanent workers on the 1st day and the casual workers on the 2nd day. All of these were done using preventive measures like maintaining social distancing, using hand santizers and masks. Three people, who came to the estate from outside the state, has been kept in the isolation ward of the estate. The effort is ongoing
As we were getting news of the impending lockdown, we started preparing for a drop in occupancy and business. I shifted into the hotel and operated round the clock from my office itself. The most important thing on my mind was to save on HLP costs as much as possible. So planning was done on shutting of most of the room wings air-conditioning, switching off appliances and lighting, cold storages, etc. because they would not be required owing to expected low occupancy. We planned on having just a 20 Team Members including Security to be present in the hotel round the clock, to safe guard the hotel and its assets, operating some of the equipment on periodic basis to keep them maintained, pest control and cleaning of all areas, etc. We organised food distribution for the needy and have also began Take Away | Home Delivery service. Apart from this, planning for the reopening post the lock down is afoot every day. Every day, I am in touch with lots of our guests inquiring on their well being. A major aspect of mine also involves keeping the morale of the Team high for both – WFH and Team in the hotel with me. We gather around every evening by the poolside or the open air beach side lawns for a session of tea | coffee. This has been an extraordinary crisis which was completely unforeseen and unplanned. The World has changed a lot for each one of us very quickly, and am sure we all are trying to adapt to the New Normal in our own ways.
Working with Apeejay group itself is a big assurance and confidence booster that we all collectively would be able to get back to normalcy soon, and perhaps be better in our planning and execution once we re-start. Hoping for the crisis to end soon and looking forward to welcoming the Team Members and our Guests back…..very soon.
We will be coming up with Apeejay People at Work (from home) 3.0 very soon and we will continue to bring Apeejay Heroes along. So stay tuned and keep reading as we bring to you incredible stories of our people who have braved all odds to keep their business running despite the lock down.