Coronavirus outbreak: Here is how FMCG companies are coping with the pandemic 

The coronavirus pandemic has hit global economies and businesses hard. India Inc. is gearing up for this major headwind and telling its employees not to put themselves or their respective organisation at risk.

Taking into account the seriousness of the outbreak in India, consumer goods companies have put in place stringent protocols to ensure the safety of employees.

Field Staff & Factory Workers

The consumer good companies rely heavily on on-field, factory and distribution centre staff. To ensure the safety of these employees, companies are encouraging rotation based shifts and minimal workforce in a bid to limit physical contact with one another.

“All of our sourcing units and distribution centres will apply specialist tiered protocols to protect our workers while supporting business continuity. All field sales employees should connect with customers virtually wherever possible and minimise the use of public transport if a customer visit is necessary,” said Unilever in a statement.

Work From Home

Consumer goods giants like Hindustan Unilever, ITC and Godrej have already implemented ‘work from home’ for roles that don’t require employees to be physically present at their workplace.

Hindustan Unilever’s 4,000 India employees will be working from home starting this week.

“All office-based employees globally should work from home. Any exceptions (which we expect to be few and far between, and most probably due to the need to access data-intensive systems) must be approved by the country General Manager,” said Unilever on its website.

The Godrej group has created a task force of senior leaders to closely monitor the situation. They have “requested team members to work from home if their role allows them to do so. Others who can work from home have been asked to do so as much as possible.”

Cigarettes to hospitality giant, ITC has said that “offices in some locations have been advised to put in place and execute contingency plans at the earliest including work-from-home arrangements.”

Meetings Via Video Conferences 

Organisations are also keeping in mind risks from business-related travel. Most companies have put in place blanket bans on travel to overseas plants and offices. GCPL which gets about 50 percent of its business from overseas has “suspended all business-related international and domestic travel and moved critical meetings to video conferences.”

The Godrej group has also requested any team member who has “travelled to China, Korea, Iran, Japan and Italy, in the last few weeks, to notify their manager and HR partner and work from home for two weeks post their return to India.”

ITC has issued an internal travel advisory “under which no international travel is permitted for official reasons till further notice and domestic travel is being limited to essential travel.” Organisations are also keeping in check the entry of external visitors who are not employees of the company. In times like these, companies are encouraging teleconferencing and video conferencing as much as possible.

Other Regular Measures

Social distancing, adequate use of hand sanitiser and maintaining personal hygiene are some general words of caution that organisations have communicated to employees.

“Business continuity plans are being put in place to address any potential contingencies and for social distancing. All Businesses have been advised to set up a Core Contingency Management Team. We are continuously monitoring the situation across all locations and are moving towards a state of preparedness to address any exigency as the health and safety of our entire workforce including salesmen and factory workers is of paramount importance,” said ITC.

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