This is a time when most companies are staring at a zero-demand situation and drawing up coping strategies to survive. But for a few companies, there has been such an unexpected spurt in demand that they have been scrambling to mobilise talent and resources to meet unforeseen requirements.
When the first phase of lockdown kicked in, the ₹1,800-crore Tenon Group, which is into security and integrated facilities management, was inundated with requests. Major Manjit Rajain, executive chairman of the group, says the company was besieged by clients asking for more security personnel as they feared pilferage at warehouses and factory premises. For instance, a unit in Bhiwadi, which had 40 security personnel, upped it to 60 as there was expensive material on premises.
Post lockdown, Rajain foresees major escalation in demand for disinfection and sanitisation of workplaces. Already, he says, the firm’s specially fitted out 16 vans that carry equipment for shampooing carpets, polishing marble and all kinds of deep cleaning, working 24-hour shifts daily. “We had two six-member teams on the vans to do deep cleaning, now we have had to raise it to three teams per van,” he says.
For game development company Lakshya Digital, there was a 25 per cent surge in projects even before India locked itself down. Gaming has been one of the indoor activities that saw a huge upsurge during Covid-9.
With work halting in China and other geographies, some of the projects — especially from Japan — shifted to the Indian firm. Says CEO Manvendra Shukul: “Our community is word-of-mouth, and when people heard we were working and could deliver projects on time, orders surged.” He says they have added around eight more clients in Japan and a few in Europe.
Lakshya Digital, which has offices in Gurugram, Pune, Seattle and Tokyo, is now the largest non-Japanese game development company in Japan, says Shukul. It is involved mainly in the development of console games, but also has a hand in EverQuest, the longest running 3D fantasy-themed MMO (massively multiplayer online) game. “The top 10 games that are slotted to release in 2021, we are involved in half of them,” says Shukul.
Coping with demand
How are the companies meeting the extraordinary demand?
For Lakshya, Shukul says the timing worked out as it has its own academy, InGame, in Gurugram and Pune, which conducts a six-month intensive course in art and animation and a batch was passing out in March. “They are usually ready to join production straight after the course, and 30 of them from both centres were absorbed instantly,” he says.
Also, he adds, it took Lakshya just two or three days to shift 500 computers with encrypted data and secured VPN systems to employees’ homes and set off a work-from-home schedule to tackle the projects on hand.
As for Tenon, despite having 75,000 employees on its rolls, it has had to face struggles to meet the surge in demand. Rajain describes how when the lockdown happened some of its staff went back to their villages and are now unable to get out. “We have had to get approvals and bus people from another location, provide accommodation, food. Some of the clients are supportive, but not all are,” he says.
The challenge is three-fold, he says. First is to organise people to reach the workplaces; second is to train them to sanitise. And the third is to take care of their necessities, lodging and boarding.
Given that both companies anticipate demand to spiral when the lockdown lifts, how are they planning to address it?
Fortuitously, says Rajain, the company had acquired a facilities management firm in the UK which is a generation ahead in the game. For instance, the mobile van was actually something that was running in the UK and Tenon replicated the idea in India, converting Tempo Travelers for the purpose. “Each van costs ₹18 lakh to fit out, and while we had launched 16 in Gurgaon, Bangalore, six more are being manufactured and hopefully will be deployed as soon as the lockout lifts,” he says.
“We had started planning for this six or eight weeks before the crisis hit India,” says Rajain. “All our training programmes are online,” he adds.
Plus, he says, with a databank of 20,000 potential employees to hire from, they should be able to meet the demand.
As for Lakshya, it is looking for more talent through search firms, though onboarding will happen only post lockdown. But says, Shukul, seeing how productivity has risen ever since work from home was implemented, the firm could make this a permanent arrangement.
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