Q: What kind of challenges did women face during the COVID era – at home and outside?
Zahara Kanchwalla: The biggest challenge was managing various schedules. Since everyone was working from home – partners as well as children.
Q: How tough was the multi-tasking – for housewives and career women?
Zahara: Very tough. Since the bulk of caregiving and domestic duties still fall on women. Working from home blurred the boundaries between personal and professional responsibilities. The phase tested the multi-tasking abilities of the best of us.
Q: What are the key learnings of the COVID crisis?
Zahara: How much proper planning can help. Also taught me to set boundaries – in both personal and professional life.
Q: Did you get cooperation and team work ?
Zahara: Yes, my family was extremely supportive and so was my other family at work – my colleagues. It was a tough time for everybody so everyone was understanding of each other and adapted as and when required.
Q: Did you think of changing homes to larger places to manage work from home?
Zahara: With everyone at home all the time, the space did feel compact at times but no didn’t think of changing homes.
Q: how did you manage with children at home and what were the challenges?
Zahara: Keeping children entertained was the greatest challenge as they get bored easily. With no offline schools, daycare or friends to play with – the challenge was even greater. But it proved to be an excellent opportunity to impart important life skills – like teaching them to respect others’ time and work. It also made a great impression on kids to see their parents attending to work duties.
Q: Now that we are bouncing back, how do you visualize the new norm?
Zahara: Much more different than the pre-pandemic world. Everyone and everything has been reset and we’re all functioning from new mindsets and priorities.
Q: Paycuts, joblosses – did you encounter any of these issues?
Zahara: No. Rather, we ensured that we did not do any pay cuts for any of our team members. In fact, we had our annual appraisals as usual. We also ensured that salaries were rolled out earlier during the lockdown to help the team cope.
Q: Is normalcy on pays returning?
Yes, normalcy is returning. Everything is back to normal.
Q: For HR heads: The typical issues that you faced and how you managed?
Zahara: All the teams going remote together all of a sudden was the only big challenge at the beginning. But once we were all settled, everything was seamless. We made extra efforts to keep employee engagement and morale up – given the difficult times and lack of the physical work environment they were used to.
Q: Has technology benefited – in staying connected?
Zahara: Yes, very much. From teams seamlessly working on the cloud to smooth collaboration thanks to the advanced communication options we have today.
Q: Did you encounter cyber security issues? Hacking? Data loss?
Zahara: No, we did not encounter any cyber security issues. We work on a secure cloud.
Zahara Kanchwalla converged her passion for digital technology and communication by co-founding Rite KnowledgeLabs, which delivers Storytelling as a Service (SaaS) and has created original content and led thought leadership mandates for some of the biggest brands across sectors. After completing Plastics Engineering more than a decade ago and doing a Post diploma in Computer Applications, she never imagined that down the line she would emerge as a digital storyteller. The firm has created digital assets and social media outreach programmes from the ground up by marrying strategic consulting with executional rigor. Be it social media advocacy, corporate websites, subject-specific microsites, investor and cause reporting-led digital assets and reports, they research & write, design & develop in an integrated manner.