Working smart amidst COVID pandemic

The lockdown amidst the COVID pandemic signifies a noteworthy change in the way teams at SBI General Insurance collaborate, communicate, and work.

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work-from-home during lockdown and COVID pandemic

The lockdown amidst the COVID pandemic signifies a noteworthy change in the way teams at SBI General Insurance collaborate, communicate, and work.


Prakash Chandra Kandpal Deputy CEO, SBI General Insurance

By Prakash Chandra Kandpal

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we established an emergency management team (EMT), comprising senior management and leadership teams of the SBI General Insurance (SBIGI). The EMT has been closely monitoring the situation and issuing a necessary advisory to all employees and stakeholders. It has also taken significant steps to reshape business strategy, maintain business continuity, build resilience, and prepare for recovery.


To ensure that our customer care channel is up and running, we activated voice mail at the contact center for those who are unable to get through the helpline. We also started processing motor claims through online streaming. Our e-mail and SMS shortcode responses are being managed from home by our customer service executives, while the claims team is continuously supporting the policyholders and call centers.

Accelerating smart work

An important component of business continuity in a lockdown situation is the ability to work remotely. We have implemented a remote working strategy for employees, focusing on strategic implications. We enabled mobile hardware tools, virtual collaboration and communication, remote project management, and employee engagement tools, to ensure all necessary work-from-home and cybersecurity protocols are adhered to.

We also increased the infrastructure outlay, such as cloud platforms to enable employees to work and collaborate effectively from home. All SBIJI employees have been provided with a laptop, phone, OneDrive, Lifesize VC, and Microsoft Teams, etc to meet their work requirements.


This black swan event will compel companies to revisit

their remote working policies, and redesign them to cater

to business as usual activities.

The teams follow daily virtual morning stand-ups to discuss progress and challenges. Sharing of discussion materials and agenda prior to every virtual meeting via Microsoft Teams help in context setting and bring clarity of objective. For days to come, and as part of the WFH framework, we have decided to conduct weekly end-of-the-week team calls to discuss and give feedback on the previous week, and plan for the upcoming week.

Using teleconferencing and video conferencing has become the new normal and is part of business as usual (BAU) for managing the day-to-day activities and collaboration. All virtual meetings of the EMT and HoDs are conducted using the Lifesize video-conferencing tool.


Getting digital-ready

As the crisis began to emerge, our BCP team tested the critical functions, including investments, information technology, and customer service. We envisaged the technological infrastructure requirements assuming various scenarios and accordingly arranged for inventories and backup resources. Employees with critical roles having laptops were provided with a virtual private network (VPN), while virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was provided for others to enable remote working.

Our operation teams have leveraged the digitally agile platform of policy booking and have issued policies from the employee portal over the web. To service a large volume of retail policy bookings, we identified senior sales resources to generate proposals and do quality checks based on a defined checklist. This helped the operations team speed up the policy-booking process.

Accelerating ahead

No matter what tools and technologies one select for remote working strategy, it is critical to have the right communication and IT infrastructure in place. Today, collaboration and work aren’t limited to the office or between 9 AM to 5 PM any longer. Employees are always connected—checking emails, reading texts, and sending messages. Hence 24x7 support and simplified and seamless managed solutions are crucial for businesses to succeed in this new era.


What this signifies is a noteworthy change in the way people collaborate, communicate, and get work done. This black swan event will certainly compel companies to revisit their remote working policies and redesign them to cater to business as usual activities in addition to business continuity.

The author Prakash Chandra Kandpal is the Deputy CEO of SBI General Insurance Company Limited

The article was first published in the April 2020 print edition of Voice&Data