Indian corporate leaders are seeing the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to reorient their work culture, business models and derive ‘more from less’.
Some business leaders say that India’s federal government has handled the situation well, given its limited resources.
“It is an event, which is a great leveller. Never in the recorded history has there been such a widespread disruption and in equal measure all over the world, all at the same time,” Varun Berry, Managing Director of Britannia Industries said while participating in a webinar organised by CEO Lounge.
“The challenge for all of us really is that of adaptation and this is really testing us on a day-to-day basis on what is the capability we have to adapt to a situation like this. I am looking at this crisis to build resilience, my own resilience and the resilience of the organisation and also productivity as we go forward,” added Berry.
Marzin R. Shroff, Managing Director and CEO of Eureka Forbes said that consumer behaviour has changed, and companies would have to change too - by becoming operation intensive rather than capital intensive.
“There is so much volatility, but this is a massive opportunity too, since we deal with air, water and environmental purification systems. But we have to cut our costs,” said Shroff.
Hari Menon, Co-Founder and CEO, Big Basket said that during the lockdown period, his company has learnt how to do more with less as many employees were at home.
“We learnt how to tweak technologies, tweak processes, productivity to such an extent we are able to deliver at our peak level before COVID with half of our people,” said Menon.
Menon said safety has been brought to the front burner, “it is so critical, we never had this worry.” He feels companies have to build safety protocols into operational systems, so that employees are safe and customers are safe.
Karan Bajwa, Managing Director of Google Cloud India said India had responded well to the COVID-19 situation “in the best possible way within its means and complexities.”
“The work place is not going to be the same again. Work from home could be the new normal,” opined Bajwa. “If you go back to your usual, that would be the most dangerous situation.”
All the corporate heads agreed that the business environment is not going to be the same as before COVID-19..
In an earlier interview with Sputnik, Deepak Sood, Secretary General of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India said, “this is going to become a way of life. We will have to reinvent, realign business models, businesses will change, and everything will see a sea of change.”
The Indian economy was already passing through a slowdown during 2019 and COVID-19 will hit it hard. The Gross National Product or GDP growth which was 4.7 percent at the end of 2019 was set to fall to 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund.
As of now, the lockdown is expected to be lifted on 17 May, but the situation is still far from normal. The COVID-19 caseload has been spiralling and reached 49,391 on Wednesday. This includes 14,183 people cured and discharged from hospitals and 1,694 deaths, according to the federal health and family welfare ministry.