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HCL women discuss remote working aspects during pandemic

HCL women discuss remote working aspects during pandemic

 April 15, 2020

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Companies across the world have been working tirelessly to support their people to successfully work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From having the right technology infrastructure in place, to providing regular communication and information updates, through to periodic checking in to ensure all is going well - companies worldwide are adjusting to the 'new normal' that sees a considerable volume of employees working from home as effectively as possible.      

Where Women Work asked HCL about how they've been supporting their people and what have been some of the benefits, both professionally and personally, that some of the women have encountered.

HCL was swift to implement its business continuity plan and risk management

HCL - Jaya Kiran Satish - HR

Jaya Kiran Satish (pictured above) is the EMEA Sales HR Lead and Country HR Head for HCL in the UK, Ireland and South Africa.

Where Women Work asked Jaya about HCL's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Employee health and safety are paramount for HCL. We began monitoring the COVID situation from late January 2020 and invoked our business continuity plan and risk management quite early to ensure minimum disruption to our employees and clients," explains Jaya.

"All non-essential travel and big company events were cancelled. Our initial and foremost response was to enable as many employees as possible to work from home. As of 30th March 2020, 92% of our global employees were working from home. We've been sharing regular advisory to employees to keep them aware about the global situation and how they should adhere to social distancing guidelines and keep themselves safe by sharing good practices."

One of HCL's swift actions saw a global helpline and microsite quickly put in place with the theme #TakeCareHCL.

When asked how HCL prepared for the unprecedented situation in terms of tech infrastructure enabling its employees to continue operating, Jaya discussed some of the mechanism that were quickly put in place. 

"Our early response and preparedness saw a significant collaborative effort from all HCL teams. HCL's IT infrastructure teams enabled laptop access to employees with virtual working facilities - and we continue to leverage collaborative platforms like Microsoft Teams, shared drives, Skype, etc to ensure employees remain connected while working remotely."

With a constantly changing context, Jaya has a critical role leading HCL's HR efforts. 

"The situation has been changing so dynamically that we in HR, like any other function, have to operate with great speed and agility. There are many employee concerns, anxiety and emotions to deal with - and this calls for a sound balance between empathy and business continuity," comments Jaya.

"There has needed to be very open communication channels between employee and management to keep everyone updated and not feel isolated or worried about the future. Also, learning to operate in this new world of remote working is, for many, a first-time experience. While we as managers are also working remotely ourselves, we remain very much on the ground. Plus, we keep a very close track on any employee who has tested COVID positive to ensure full compliance with local country guidelines and we provide all the necessary support to ensure those employees can work with ease and effectiveness from home."

Overall, the employee sentiment at HCL has been very optimistic. Regular internal communication, engaging messages, and showing appreciation make HCL employees feel like, remotely, they are still standing together firmly as a successful company.

"Social isolation has emerged as one of the biggest challenges. We have launched a significant level of virtual engagement and wellbeing activities to ensure our HCL employees remain connected and fit during these difficult times," says Jaya. 

"We've also initiated a sharing of best practices while working from home for both employees and managers - so we can all keep learning about new ways of operating and key strategies. We've also launched an Employee Assistance program at HCL where an employee can seek confidential counselling services related to work, health, family and/or financial matters. We've also been leveraging our strong connections with local government agencies and embassies to ensure the safe return for relevant employees to their home country as and when the travel ban is lifted. We're conscious that working from home, while attending to children and home needs, can at times be exhausting so we are continuing to consider options like 'silent hours' and flexible working schedules to support our employees to maintain a good work life balance."

HCL continues to stand as one united family against COVID-19.

HCL UK's Sales Director Anitya Bhat says extra time is a blessing

HCL Anitya Bhat - Sales Director

Anitya Bhat (pictured above) is a Sales Director for HCL in the UK and has been working from home during the pandemic.

Her role is to manage one of the company's strategic global accounts. "I manage one of the world’s largest FMCG companies which includes overall responsibility for delivering the services. I work with the customer on aligning with their business requirements of Cloud Migration and Service Optimisation," explains Anitya.

"My area of responsibility is to manage large and complex account renewals, plus I'm continuously reshaping and redesigning a new target operating model for the customer. HCL services vary from Infrastructure as a service through to managing and delivering total IT Outsourcing or Managed Services contracts - including expertise outsourcing methodologies and commercial models."

When asked about any challenges encountered due to working from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Anitya suggests that she feels that she has been blessed to be able to her continue work and life balance pretty much as normal. "I'm hugely thankful to the HCL eco-system for supporting me in a decent work-life balance. Our sales leader, for example, has repeatedly ensured that there is continual support available to us to ensure a good balance is maintained between our work and home focus."

Regarding the positives experienced while working from home, Anitya identifies that having more time has been a significant benefit - more time for herself, more time for family, and more time tending to their family home which they recently bought. "My role involves a lot of travel every week, so the current situation has enabled me to take time to invest in myself and getting more organized, which I absolutely love," says Anitya. "In addition, I have been availing myself of some free online courses by various universities."
While enjoying her work for HCL, less business travel and removing the time spent going to and from work means that Anitya has been able to enjoy some extra time that she has always longed for. "I've been making time to do the things that I've always wanted to do - like working out daily, stone painting, learning something new, dancing, etc. I hope further people are feeling as inspired as I am if they too have been fortunate to gain some extra time."

Sophie Graczyk at HCL France feels extra sense of camaraderie and teamwork

HCL Marketing - France

Sophie Graczyk (pictured above) is a Marketing Manager for HCL in France.

Her role sees her responsible for developing marketing strategy and overseeing event management. 

"The main objective of my work is to increase awareness of the HCL name and visibility of the services that HCL can offer in France. More so, I am a support function for the development of the commercial business at HCL France," explains Sophie.

The biggest challenge for Sophie while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic she says is missing the daily face-to-face contact with her colleagues. "I miss the interactions and spontaneous exchanges I have with my peers," says Sophie.

The feeling of camaraderie and teamwork has continued however. "We have, in fact, become even closer as team members because we've been calling each other regularly to check in on health and family. Now we are working even more via video camera so our mutual care and support for each other has developed even more considerably."

One specific benefit from working from home that Sophie has enjoyed is the continuous presence of HCL managers being more accessible. "I've been enjoying the increased support and constant communication with our managers. Plus, the willingness of our leaders to ensure that we are all adequately trained and prepared for the post-COVID 19 era has been impressive."

Sophie was also impressed by the speed of HCL's actions and deployment throughout the crisis - from providing all necessary equipment to work from home, to reviewing all communication strategies, to proposing solutions for parents who have to look after children, through to setting up online sports activities for the benefit of employees. "I am lucky every day to be part of HCL," says Sophie.

HCL Sweden's Kristina Elestedt-Jansson works her cyber security magic from afar

HCL in Sweden - Gothenberg

Kristina Elestedt-Jansson is Head of HCL's Cyber Security Fusion Center in Gothenburg in Sweden.

"We deliver security services with a focus on the European market and we're part of the global Cyber Security & GRC organisation that is lead by Maninder Singh, HCL's  Corporate Vice President & Global Head, CyberSecurity & GRC Business."

Kristina says the biggest challenge for her in working from home has been the lack of face-to-face social networking. "I really miss meeting with colleagues, having a coffee or just saying hello. It's obvious that even when we have all the necessary technical solutions to undertake our work from home, the importance of meeting people face-to-face can't be underestimated." 

Kristina participates in a daily huddle with her team to check in and make sure that everyone is feeling fine.

She says that one positive outcome though is that she enjoys not having to commute to the office, and can otherwise effectively allocate that time. 

HCL South Africa sees Sahejna Sewpersadh manage child care with work

HCL - Sahejna Sewpersadh - BBBEE

Sahejna Sewpersadh (pictured above right) is an Associate Manager and Head of B-BBEE in South Africa for HCL and is a further woman at HCL working from home during the pandemic.

Sahejna works in Johannesburg and has an important role with HCL's HR arena. "Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) is about bringing change to the historical background of South Africa by enriching South Africans with opportunities to grow within our economy," explains Sahejna​​. "At HCL, we create initiatives to assist our youth and under-privileged communities, creating sustainable solutions in bringing change to the fore front. By adhering to the Code of Good Practices, HCL is bringing transformation to the South African economy and in doing so, we are creating a valuable footprint in the South African market."

Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has been somewhat enjoyable for Sahenja, yet it has also been a challenge. "A major challenge for me has been trying to home school my little one while trying to work at the same time. It’s a daily challenge and I try my best to give both balance," comments Sahejna.

"There is no pressure for commuting or rushing for school pick-ups. I can work from my garden, it's such a tranquil setting bringing calm that I never envisioned was possible. Plus, spending more quality time with my family is an absolute bonus."

Sahejna prays that the world will soon be healed from the pandemic and, remaining ever positive, she wishes love and light to all.

Yvonne Savage enjoys the fabulous Irish view from her home office

HCL Ireland

Yvonne Savage is Group Manager for HR at HCL for Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Yvonne strives to ensure that HCL’s core values are embedded into the company's ways of working when engaging, involving, managing and communicating with staff.

Her role is to educate, promote and demonstrate best practice in her interactions with and management and through leadership of staff.

She maintains a constant focus on striving to enable and encourage culture change, where appropriate, to fit with HCL’s ethos of 'Employee First'.

"I'm passionate about actively promoting diversity in the workplace," says Yvonne.

Throughout the pandemic, Yvonne has been working from home. "One of the main challenges of working from home can be my lack of discipline in ‘switching off’ and also a lack of interaction with colleagues sometimes. I didn’t realise how much I need to ‘think out loud’ and voice my jumbled thoughts to a trusted colleague to get clarity. she says. "My exercise regime has also disappeared and I seem to find any excuse not to manage one walk a day!"

To overcome these challenges, Yvonne has tried to work only from her home office. She makes a point of connecting with colleagues via phone or Teams twice a day to keep in touch. And, she has even discovered 'yoga for beginners' on YouTube and tries to set aside some time most nights to do at least 30 minutes of her yoga.

"A positive outcome for me is the enormous drop in travel. Post COVID-19, I will be doing much less travel than previously. It's less stressful, better for the environment and provides more time for me to get all my work done. It also frres me up for other activities like that daily walk I'm plan on doing," says Yvonne.

"Few of us might be lucky enough to have a complete home office. I'm making better use of mine as the lockdown continues and I've learnt that having discipline is a very healthy way to work from home in terms of productivity, mental and physical health. The view from my home office window is very relaxing as I live in Northern Ireland and my picturesque view is of the Republic of Ireland."

Learn more about working for HCL

Across the world, HCL actively supports its employees career paths and provides considerable development and promotional opportunities.

Many women have benefited from moving their career to HCL.

Explore the kinds of jobs HCL recruits for and see what career options may be available to you. 



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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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