No country is spared from the global impact of Covid-19 pandemic. From first world countries like Australia, United States and Europe to developing countries in Asia like the Philippines, this pandemic forced governments to implement strict lockdown and border closures creating a negative chain reaction in global commerce and the economy. Industries relying on global trade, B2B transactions and export services like Business Process Outsourcing were the first among to receive the blow. Without a proactive and sound business continuity plan, business interruption leading to permanent closure would be inevitable. So how did a BPO company like PBO Global respond to lockdown and manage to continue successfully?
RESPONDING TO LOCKDOWN
When a sudden surge of COVID-19 positive cases hit the major island Luzon in the Philippines on March, the Philippine government quickly placed the entire capital of Manila, including all key regions into total lockdown on March 16, 2020. This announcement caught most businesses by surprise, or should we say, unprepared! Nonetheless, we respect that this call had to be made.
While we recognise that we could not operate in our normal settings, closing our business operation was never our option. In fact, our bold and almost Mission Impossible goal was to have ZERO work interruption and service downtime for all our clients, despite their concerns about how we could achieve this task seamlessly! With less than 12-hour window period from the declaration of the lockdown, the main challenge was how to quickly setup a suitable remote work-from-home situation for each of our PBO Global team with the goal of achieving comparable levels of service quality, security, technical infrastructure like the internet, etc., staff supervision and management which we usually have on-site.
Of critical consideration, though, was the pure logistics involved in achieving a seamless transition for each individual team member requiring a case-by-case review of each team member’s geographic, personal and technical circumstances. However, after completing this painstaking process and physically setting up each team-member in compliant home offices, we were up-and-running within 24 (long) hours. It was BAU (Business as usual). No work interruption, no service downtime.
No magic, no secrets. Here are the 3 major actions we took in responding to lockdown:
1. BE TRANSPARENT and KEEP BUSINESS PARTNERS INFORMED
The minute we received the official notice from the local government about the total lockdown, informing our clients was one of our main priorities. As partners, we felt that it is important that they should have a full grasp of the situation and that they must be aware of how the lockdown order could affect both parties and business operations. Options and contingency plans had been mutually discussed. As a result, all were on the same page, agreed and moved according to plan.
2. PRIORITIZE EMPLOYEE WELFARE AND KEEP THEIR COMMITMENT
Our employees are one of the main stakeholders of setting up the remote work arrangement. Ensuring that everyone is safe and secure within the lockdown came first. It was also imperative that they understand what is required from them and their critical roles and responsibilities from on-site to off-site. EVERYONE was keen on performing their assigned role.
Having the commitment of our team and the proven dedication to work cooperatively and creatively to set up their individual workstations during the manic 24 hours and the subsequent settling-in period was a joy to behold. Some even willingly shared their own private vehicles to expedite the transport of all hardware equipment to target destinations.
In return, PBO Global management team ensured that all throughout the lockdown period, our employees receive continuity of wages payment on time, if not earlier. Our HR support team also adhere to a program of personal contact with all the work-from-home team, part of which is a daily touch point through remote video conference or phone call to check their health status and any other issues which need addressing. An informal weekly team gathering (sometimes incorporating “drinks”) is also conducted virtually at COB on Fridays to keep our team’s positive spirit.
3. REPLICATE TECHNICAL SET-UP of on-site to off-site
In order to ensure the quality of work and high level of productivity, the same computers and devices we have in our facility were provided to our staff within which all applications and system they use to perform their tasks are installed. Likewise, data security and protection were paramount in the process so our IT Team managed to set-up all necessary security systems on each computer and device that were given to each staff.
Prior the execution, PBO Global had already conducted prior investigation and assessment of the availability of internet connection per team member as it plays a vital role in the entire set-up. This paved way for our IT team to identify and prioritize staff who needs to have a stable internet connection. During the lockdown period, random checks of internet speed are also being implemented to make sure that work productivity of our team is sustained.
Lastly, communication platforms were outlined and required communication tools were installed on all computers and devices. These systems are important to ensure that everyone can collaborate effectively and respond immediately to any issues or concerns that may arise particularly during the remote work arrangement.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THIS
Unforeseen happenings can put an enterprise and its organization to test, particularly, its’ ability to respond and to adapt quickly. While companies may have an existing and well-written business continuity plan, risk and disaster management plan or what have you, Covid-19 pandemic taught us that you can’t prepare for everything, more so, control everything – such as the decision of many governments to put their countries in a lockdown.
However, the quality of staff and the level of technical capability may enable someone’s plan to work effectively. The ability of the team to work cohesively and communicate effectively – inward, outward, downward and upward – plus the proactive investment in technology made PBO Global’s response to lockdown very successful. More importantly, our forged and transparent relationship with our clients have made our plan of actions work seamlessly.
While it is true that Covid-19 pandemic has shaken economies across the globe, when all stakeholders work towards a common goal and stay in a consensus to move forward, any response is deemed to succeed. Whether it be on matters of business continuity or national survival, the call for solidarity is loud and clear for all.
Professional Business Outsourcing Global is an Australian and Philippine owned company with HQ located in Bella Vista, NSW and in Clark Freeport Zone, PH. We help small to mid-size companies in Australia, Philippines and across the globe seeking legal, accounting & IT and other professional outsourcing services.
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