M&M soaks in Covid-19 lessons to enhance productivity 

by Murali Gopalan 22 Jan 2021

Mahindra & Mahindra is carefully imbibing the lessons from Covid-19 in carrying out daily business in such a way that it will “permanently create a better business process and help reduce costs”. 

According to Dr Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, the erstwhile pattern of coming to work every day may also not hold good for the future. In all likelihood, employees will come to their offices twice a week and work from home for the remaining 3-4 days.

In his view, Covid-19 will define a new normal of how people work and pave the way for a significant improvement over past practices. “I say this because we have become too set in our ways in assuming that things work this way only and there is no option. Covid-19 has forced us to work differently and it has been a revelation for us,” said Dr Goenka. 

Companies are also beginning to realise during the work-from-home routine that a lot more of their people can do without supervision. “We were so used to thinking that there must be one officer supervising six workers and officers, in turn, be supervised by their seniors and so on. Thanks to Covid-19, we now know that this is not needed and officers are capable of working without supervision everyday,” he said. 

This is both good and bad — good because a company does not need so many people and bad since there will not too be any jobs on offer. “However, if you want to remain competitive in the world, you will have to be like that,” added Dr Goenka. It is then up to manufacturers to distribute the costs in the manner they deem fit: either products will become less expensive or profits will be higher.

Time has also “really opened up” especially with travel coming down drastically during the pandemic. This has been particularly beneficial in his added responsibility as a key member of the Government committee on boosting Indian manufacturing. “Everything is on video, meetings can happen at short notices and one can easily juggle around a few things here and there,” said Dr Goenka.

Dr Goenka speaking at the virtual FADA AGM on September 5, 2020.

Gone are the days when meetings had to be fixed in advance to schedule appointments with ministers or bureaucrats; today everything is done virtually. Beyond this, video meetings are more productive and focused. Till not-so-long ago, manufacturers would make their suppliers wait for eternity but today there is no need to travel and everything is done on the phone.

Pre-Covid, if a supplier CEO wanted to meet someone like Dr Goenka for even 20 minutes, he would feel that it was not appropriate to talk over the phone with the MD of M&M. He would, therefore, travel from his city of origin to Mumbai, stay in a hotel overnight and then come for this 20 minute meeting. 

Now the same thing is done in half an hour and nobody thinks they are breaking protocol. Consequently, there is tremendous time and money saved coupled with the fact that there are no longer hierarchical barriers while reaching out to the CEO.