Karkhana’s take on the COVID-19 situation.

The WHO has announced a state of emergency concerning the COVID-19. It has asked individuals, schools, organizations, companies etc  to take the required precautionary measures with safety in mind.

With the ongoing challenges, Karkhana on an organizational level has been planning and taking actions in order to protect both employees and the company. We are practicing some basic measures such as social distancing, office disinfection, personal sanitation etc. There is a lot going on in our head and heart of our team members  hearing all kinds of news and updates from all possible channels so we also have an 8 PM daily update of the fast moving Corona situation in our slack channel where valid news is circulated. We are also thinking of innovative ways to keep working on our mission for which we have formed a crisis management team, and many other such actions.

We were also curious about how other communities/organizations around us are thinking or what they are doing to tackle this unpredictable situation. With that, here I want to share Karkhana’s take on the COVID-19 situation so we have three people from our leadership team who are thinking about corona response possibilities depending on how it goes.

  • Sakar Pudasaini, Founder

‘At a strategy level we have been monitoring and thinking about the COVID situations since it first burst out in Wuhan a few months ago.  I have been mostly thinking about 2 groups of people we serve: our students and our team. The two questions I am getting the Karkhana leadership team to think about are: i. How do we continue to serve our students’ learning even if they have to stay home? ii. How do we keep our team members safe and help them out in case someone in their family gets infected.

Because I have a wide network of friends and colleagues around the world, a lot of times my job has been to find out stuff that other places are trying, and suggest it to our leadership team to consider. For e.g. we are seeing some US based STEAM kit companies provide home delivery of kits + video tutorials on how to use the kits. I have been talking to colleagues who are working on those solutions about what approaches they are trying. Also, I have been talking to managers in other parts of Asia about how they are managing their work from home schedules. Things like liberal leave for people with possible symptoms are, of course, a common one. But one interesting idea to pop out of this discussions was to have a rotating telework schedule: which means that about one fifth of our team works from the office everyday, and others from home. That way we can keep work going, but dramatically increase social distancing.’

  • Hasin Shakya, Karkhana’s Core Team Member

‘We are emphasizing to the team that it’s important for everyone to practice social distancing. Karkhana is a young team so most of its members won’t be considered high risk but we are also trying to actively reduce the risks of Karkhana members being carriers.We have started to get our members to work remotely. Only members whose presence is absolutely necessary in the space to get work done have been coming to work from our space. Our team leads are actively working to set up processes for virtual collaboration so that people can work from the comfort of their homes.

We are also taking this time to encourage our members to set some personal development goals and complete them. We believe that learning should never stop so our teachers and content creators are working really hard to try designing online learning camps for our students. We want kids to use this time not just be consumers of technology but also creators of technology. We are also working on developing teacher workshops for schools to help them run virtual classes for their students.’

  • Pavitra Bahadur Gautam, CEO

‘As the Covid-19 situation is very uncertain in Nepal we want to make sure we are taking all the possible measures but we are also taking it rationally and not panicking. As we are learning more about the pandemic we are making sure that we are taking extra care on hygiene and cleanliness. We are encouraging people to avoid physical touches, maintain social distance and use sanitizers. As we are a large team , we have been having conversations with all the team/community leaders about possible ways to work from home. As some of our work involves physical production we require people to be present physically at work but for roles which can be performed online , we are encouraging them to work from home in coordination with their team/community leaders.

There are three major areas we are looking for

  1. Physical health: This is our highest priority and in any sign of illness, we are encouraging our team members to take leave , because that would not only help them to recover but also ensure everyone’s safety. We are having daily conversations about their health and communicating that we are concerned about their physical health.
  2. Mental Health: As much as it is a physical health crisis , it is also a psychological stress. As the entire media is full of Coronavirus stories and updates, people are under a lot of stress and anxiety. As leaders we are trying to talk to them and understand how they are feeling and making sure they feel that we are all in this together and we are there for eachother.
  3. Support on resources: As the corona situation is building a lot of anxiety and people are buying things without thinking, we have started seeing shortages of some basic supplies in the market. Also we are finding ways how we can help each other with supplies and resources in case of difficulty also opening up organizational resources from money, basic supplies to coordinating available resources for the team members.

Also communicating to our team that if the situation gets more severe or if there is an outbreak we will not only focus on our people but we will support our member’s family as well, it could be as simple as supporting them financially to maybe creating an isolation space if there is a bigger outbreak.’