ThoughtWorks and ThoughtWorkers Against Covid-19

Let me first hope and pray that you, dear reader, are doing well. These are troubled times and hope is one of the tools we have in the fight.

Apart from hope, it is also resources and personnel which many of us have voluntarily deployed to help combat the virus and its impact. In this vein, many corporates are taking deep jabs at Covid-19. Some are donating materials while some are focussing on employees’ benefits. It is also not uncommon to see the employees creating various drives and initiatives to make things a little better.

I was seeing all these initiatives and drives, both employee-initiated and company-based throughout LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Being a part of ThoughtWorks India, I was keen to know what my employer would do to combat the impact of Covid. This curiosity was fuelled by both being new to the organisation and having heard stories about the social change ThoughtWorks is known to advocate.

A glimpse of ThougtWorks. Image Credits: Economic Times (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/thoughtworks-expands-to-mumbai-with-new-office/articleshow/70141735.cms?from=mdr)

To my extreme delight and pride, ThoughtWorks India (TW) did a number of things to mitigate the impact of Covid. I don’t think I can highlight them all here, but even these, which are the ones I know, really make me proud. (Please know that this blog is not sponsored or even encouraged by ThoughtWorks. I felt a bit overwhelmed with the number of sensibility and sensitivity TW displayed at various levels.)

  1. Relaxing the need to fill timesheets- For service based firms, timesheets are a bread-n-butter thing. TW is no different. However, based on some employee feedback, the firm was quick to change the need to fill in timesheets for Covid impacted people. “Covid impacted” could mean that the employee is suffering from Covid OR is supposed to be a caregiver to a Covid patient. This obviously had an impact on Ops, but the team did the extra haul to accommodate this flexibility.
  2. Extra time off- ThoughtWorks already has an unlimited sick leave policy, which is proving extremely beneficial during these times. But even then, a company wide holiday was provided to folks to enable them to take care of their loved ones and just be with the family. This holiday became a part of a four-day long weekend, which helped many a ThoughtWorkers to recharge and be closer to their families. Apart from the long weekend, TW has also created a dedicated leave policy (called Covid Family Support Leave) to enable extra leaves for Covid impacted folks.
  3. Dedicated group for finding resources- A ThoughtWorker, Chintan Radia along with many volunteers across the country, created a drive to help out those seeking resources like oxygen or remdesivir or hospital beds. The website set up is called fightagainstcovid.org. They are constantly working to respond to requests for resources, verifying numbers and just being there for the needy. Anyone can raise a request through fight against covid, not just the folks from the company.
  4. Dedicated hours for volunteering- When TW noticed a number of employees actively contributing to the fightagainstcovid drive and in other groups as well, it was announced that employees could sign up on their timesheets for a certain number of hours in a month for Covid volunteering activities. This was quite impressive. Financially, this means less billing and revenue, but this is a great encouragement from the company to the volunteers to carry on their work.
  5. Medical insurance- TW had already devised a Covid specific insurance cover with its insurance partners. However, TW is under discussions to possibly revise the insurance plans for greater coverage, looking at the plight of those who had the misfortune to get hospitalised.
  6. Revised benefits- I will obviously not share compensation benefits in a public blog :) But TWs thought that employees weren’t enjoying a number of in-office benefits due to Covid (like free snacks for example). Hence it took some steps to revise the benefits offered to compensate for this! This is also being very proactively sensitive to employee needs. Instead of quietly pocketing the financial benefit of not needing to run the offices, TW decided to give that back to the employees.
  7. Counselling and therapy- TW has always had a dedicated mental health helpline. But Covid prompted it to run many more sessions of therapy and counselling for employees all around. Project managers could also rope in the counsellors for specific interactions with their project teams and individuals could also schedule one-on-one sessions with the psychiatrists. Looking at the Covid impact on mental health, this was a welcome step indeed.
Fight Against Covid Group

I think there are more initiatives and drives that I may have missed. The key takeaway here, I believe, is that TW is truly Agile even in the aspect of employee centricity. Instead of having a fixed set of Covid policies to abide by, the firm is always listening to the micro and the macro voices to tweak them policies and soften the impact of Covid.

Product analyst. Agile enthusiast. ThoughtWorker. Wrote a book. Behind 9 products gone live!

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