COVID – 19 hit us out of the blue, as it did each one of the companies across verticals, around the world. Three months down the road Chillibreeze finds itself in a relatively strong position. Fingers crossed.
How come? What did we do right? I spent a couple of days pondering, asking questions, reviewing all that we had done. Here is what I found. Sharing with you my musings.
Ask any Chillibreeze Associate: “What makes your service different?”
The answer will be:
- Speedy Service
- Sincere Care
- Radical Reliability
Our Location Adds to Our Challenge
Serving Fortune 500 companies located around the world is what constantly challenges us. Because our company was purposefully started in a remote city in India with high unemployment, the difficulties increase.
Shillong rests in the East Khasi Hills district of the little-known Indian state of Meghalaya.
In November 2019 Chillibreeze opened a branch office in the city of Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, yet another state in the remote Northeast part of India. Aizawl is a city which is even more unknown to the world. (It is another matter that the talent in this state is to be seen to be believed. Well educated, smart and sincere folks)
So How Did a Company in Remote India Become So Prepared?
Our ‘preparations’ began in October 2019 when India faced a crisis caused by the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), which has since then become an ACT. (We did not know then that what we did then would prepare us for something much bigger.
The first curfew started in the month of November 2019 when two of our key leaders, Demander Hujon and Pynshai Lanong were setting up Chillibreeze’s branch office in Aizawl, Mizoram.
Celebrating the hard work of Pynshai and Demander in a February Chillibreeze meeting. They didn’t know what was to come.
These two leaders along with Teddy Kharpuri, our General Manager of facilitie was able to keep our 100 plus staff working from home plus and from two external locations.
In a moment’s notice we flew 17 of our staff to work from:
- Our newly rented office in Aizawl, Mizoram
- Rented space in the Software Technology Park Kolkatta.
During the CAB crisis, and the government-imposed curfews, this amazing team outfitted a new office in Aizawl so we could successfully serve our customers.
In November 2019 Chillibreeze started to set up our new branch office in Aizawl.
Look at the view!
Another Timely Decision That Increased Preparedness
To ensure no breakages in connectivity, which is the lifeline of all that we do, our offices are outfitted with multiple internet service providers, multiple uninterrupted power back-ups through batteries, as well as state of the art industrial size diesel generators.
Before the city-wide Shillong curfews were imposed (around CAB), the company already had in place a contingency plan. Each year we revisit our contingency plan for natural disasters like earthquakes. We constantly upgrade our team, to re-assess how we can improve.
We have an emergency plan under the control of a designated team, with details of the responsibilities of each member.
As we saw the tension increase with the Citizen Amendment Act in place, the team revisited our contingency plan in December2019. That’s when they started to take action for working from home.
These are some of the actions that took place:
- November & December 2019 – Set up of the Aizawl Chillibreeze Branch office was expedited. Recruiting and training of additional staff in Aizawl.
- December 26th – Purchased 56 Uninterrupted Power Supply for home use.
- December 27th – Purchased 60+ routers for home use.
- December 29th – 42 large screen monitors were purchased for home use.
- January 2020 – The team updated the contingency plan to prepare for possible future curfews.
A New Crisis Emerges
We wake up to the fact that the Coronavirus is global, and it has already appeared in India. On March 6th and 7th 2020, despite less stock in the market for hand sanitizers, our team searched local pharmacies for 2 days to finally procure a large batch for the company.
During the week starting March 16th 2020, we pay attention to the news and have 35% of our staff do a practice work-from-home week. The team experienced some glitches due to the hilly terrain and poor internet options in our city. Solutions were found. On Saturday, March 21st 2020 the Admin and our Business Technology Services (BTS) team worked tirelessly to arrange work stations across 4 building locations to ensure that everyone is safe and keeping social distancing.
Chillibreeze Life: Before Practicing Distancing
Chillibreeze Life: After Practicing Distancing
Monday morning of the 23rd of March all transitions were a success and we all start work as per the new arrangement (some from home, others from the office but keeping a distance), without a glitch. Remember in all this we did not know that something major was to happen the very next day. Our team was starting to implement a contingency plan, that is all.
8 PM, March 24th 2020 Prime Minister Modi Announces a 21 Day Lockdown
Our amazing administrative support team and the BTS team and the entire Chillibreeze staff immediately cooperate to set up home offices for our 100+ staff.
- 44 internet connections were purchased
- Duplicate Internet Service Provider packages were purchased to ensure connectivity
- 20 comfortable office chairs delivered
- 3 desks delivered
- UPS systems and routers installed and staff trained on how to use these new devices.
Demander, Pynshai, and their teams frantically work non-stop to keep Chillibreeze running.
I applaud every single leader in our company, especially Demander, Pynshai, and Teddy. These three men and their team have been working non-stop to not only ensure Chillibreeze keeps serving our customers, the team also took care of two ventures under Chillibreeze:
Zizira – a food company
Muezart – an Eri silk yarn and fiber company
Their discipline in having a contingency plan and rolling it out so smoothly says a lot.
Teddy is one of our great leaders serving and inspiring behind the scenes.
World-Class Technology Has Never Been More Appreciated
Wednesday, March 25th 2020, while India came to a STAND STILL, Chillibreeze kept working. Yes, everyone was working from home. It was an amazing experience. With 100 plus families seeing the intensity of a company executing a plan so that we could continue to serve our customers across the globe. Parents and spouses applauded the team. We celebrated one another.
Here’s the Secret Sauce that Keeps Us Going
Besides being a purpose driven company with strong ethical values that uphold confidentiality and security we subscribe to some of the best secure cloud technologies in the world:
- In order to make sure that our employees are working securely from home or other Company locations, Chillibreeze has implemented Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security which enables us to manage who has access to corporate resources, while protecting and securing business and customer information on all devices, anywhere, in real-time.
- Chillibreeze has implemented Office 365 Advanced Threat protection tool to protect against sophisticated threats such as phishing and zero-day malware and automatically investigate and remediate any suspicious attacks.
- Microsoft SharePoint is used for file storage which enables Chillibreeze staff to securely access files remotely.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not only our CRM, but is the platform we use to schedule the hundreds of work request that come in each day.
- Microsoft Teams is one of the primary collaboration tools that we are using. Through Microsoft Teams the staff can perform chat, audio/video call, share files, host online audio/video meetings etc., securely with their own teams and customers as well.
March 29th, 2020 – A Sunday Snapshot
We are 5 days into the 21 Day All India Lockdown. Like everyone else in the world, we don’t know our future. We do know that we had one of the busiest billing weeks of the month. Working from home has allowed our staff to be more available to our customers than before. Connections and stories are being shared. We are grateful that we can work. Our customers are thankful that we prepared! The work continues to pour in.
Our leaders worked desperately with their teams and took care of our staff and our customers. Thank you for your diligent hard work. You are the reason our Overnight PowerPoint Presentation deliverables keep flowing.