In view of the current health crisis and the fear of extending lockdown, most companies are working from home. However, it is not easy for every industry to adapt to the WFH situation as there are a lot of challenges. Surfaces Reporter (SR) spoke with Ar Vistasp Bhagwagar who shared his WFH experience in the current lockdown situation. Founder of AVA Associates, he has over 27 years of experience, having completed over 1000 projects.
SR: Being an architecture firm, how are you managing the WFH situation?
WFH is going to be the NEW NORMAL! Three months back if anybody had asked about this, we would all have walked away from the mere questions; today WFH is a reality that needs to be accepted. The sooner we embrace this new normal, the sooner we would adjust to the sudden crisis that has hit us all with very little notice. Thankfully, we were very quick on our feet and tried to do as best as we could and have managed to work from home as a team (see attached picture). We are all managing from our homes with our erstwhile desktops and laptops and are operating at best 60% efficiency presently; given more time and notice, we would have been better prepared and would have carried office hardware home for better results! we have now realised that only 20% projects are still on; others are in stages of HOLD UP at site or at the decision making tables of clients.
So we are having a skeletal team of approx 20% staff working actively from home on hand picked projects! So you can say WFH is partially implemented in order to work only on active projects and keep expenses in control in an otherwise no remunerative month of closedown!
SR: What are the measures that you have adopted to make WFH a success?
I came across this wonderful set of lines: "Distance does not separate People; silence does". These lines beautifully suggest that if teams can WFH and yet maintain good communication at all times, then it would really help in bonding and having a sense of continuity! So perhaps BONDING and COMMUNICATION are perhaps the most important COVID-19 warriors for architectural firms! The less we stress and the more we go about our usual jobs, the better is the quality of time pass! I still do worry about many of the team members who are staying alone for 40 days and who have little or no socializing apart from WhatsApp calls and face-time! Social connect is the biggest ingredient for survival; after all, we are all "Social Animals"! Actually presently we are like SOCIAL ANIMALS in cages"!!!
BONDING and COMMUNICATION are perhaps the most important COVID-19 warriors for architectural firms! The less we stress and the more we go about our usual jobs, the better is the quality of time pass!
WFH can only be made a success when and if lockdown opens and people prepare and shift systems home for a proper functioning from home. Architects and Interior Designers find it easier to work on ACAD drawings etc. on larger monitors and screens and laptop working suits only the IT lot! So I do not think WFH can be a success unless entire systems (monitors and CPUs) are shifted home! So we will all be prepared for Lockdown 3.0 much better.
SR: Any success mantra you would like to share for WFH?
I think it’s time to move to virtual tools and virtual meetings for the next 6 months at least!
There is more and more need to find newer ways of doing things that we were used to doing more personally and physically in the past! So investing in technology is inevitable and we need to take the leap of faith into the virtual world!
There will be challenges in going to sites (especially those out of the station) and so need for collaborations with like-minded friends across different cities will be the new norm for many of us that work across state borders! Also, I firmly feel that WFH will continue, as we also plan to have half the team on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and another half on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday! This will facilitate social distancing and preventive initiatives.