Only 15% Philips employees have been allowed to return to work, says Head – HR, Philips Indian Subcontinent


The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest disruptor at workplaces. The lockdown pushed for a digital intervention at work, overnight and virtual working is the ‘new normal’.

We spoke to
Vishpala Reddy, Head – Human Resources, Philips Indian Subcontinent about how the company managed operations during the COVID-19 lockdown and what their ‘back to office’ strategy could be. Here’s the complete interaction:

TimesJobs: Now that the COVID-19 lockdown is being lifted, what is Philips India’s take or policy on moving back staff to offices?

Vishpala Reddy: We are following triple duty of care that offers financial aids, learning programs and engagement initiatives to keep a track of mental well-being of our employees. Though all our offices are return-to-work-enabled, we are diligently following safety protocols; only 15% of our employees have been allowed to return to work for the near future. For our employees in sales, in field service roles, or those who visit hospitals and other healthcare facilities, we have provided the required protective equipment along with appropriate training and guidance for safe working. Likewise, staff working at our factories and R&D labs are following safety norms and have been provided with protective equipment to ensure their safety at the workplace.

TimesJobs: How did the en-mass remote working impact your company?

Vishpala Reddy: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Philips has been able to continue its business operations around the world. Our employees are stepping up to support healthcare providers and their patients in the fight against COVID-19. We have implemented personal hygiene measures throughout the organisation, together with business travel restrictions to and from high-risk areas. Moreover, we have implemented a global ‘working from home’ protocol for all employees whose roles can be carried out remotely and who are equipped to do so.

TimesJobs: A lot of employees are facing mental and emotional stress because of unprecedented lockdown. How does the company view this situation?

Vishpala Reddy: The pandemic has led to an environment of uncertainty and can leave individuals feeling disempowered. Philips India is undertaking several initiatives to drive employee engagement during this time. We are conducting regular webinars with mental health experts, doctors, fitness and ergonomics coaches to help employees boost immunity and maintain positive health. Our HR and leadership teams are regularly engaging with employees through various engagement exercises to boost the employee morale.

Contributing to building a healthy work culture, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has created certain well-being toolkits which will be helpful in combating these issues. These weekly kits have been specifically designed to help employees adjust well to working from home conditions.

  • COVID-19 homecare expenses for the employee, spouse and children
  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred for setting up a home office
  • Dedicated COVID-19 hotline and emergency SPOC for our employees and their dependents
  • Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all field employees
  • COVID-19 treatment-related hospitalisation is covered under our medical insurance plan
  • We have revised our existing work from home guidelines to enable employees in staying connected, managing stress, and effectively managing teams remotely
  • TimesJobs: How would you rate India Inc’s response to the virtual working regime?

    Vishpala Reddy: Corporates across the country have been successful in ensuring business continuity and a large section of the workforce has been working remotely. I believe the timely execution of COVID-19 containment strategies and deployment of resources to where they were needed most has played a role in this.

    TimesJobs: Words of advice to professionals who are concerned about their jobs at this point of time?

    Vishpala Reddy: The pandemic has impacted businesses adversely and changed the way we live and work. However, staying positive and focused towards achieving financial stability, mental wellbeing are powerful emotional drivers to overcome the challenges ahead. Also, investment in upskilling and training ecosystem will set the stage for long-term success.



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