This article was published on 15 April 2020. Check out part 2 of the article here.
We live in unprecedented times. With movement restriction measures and cities on lockdown, Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and interact with others. Many businesses have had to adapt their business models to operate in a new reality.
Grab is no different. For us, Covid-19 has been a reminder for us to be flexible and an opportunity for us to further adapt our business model towards shared community and stakeholder goals.
In this 2-part article, we’ll be sharing how we’ve been navigating this crisis through robust business continuity planning, the safety measures we have implemented to keep everyone on our platform safe, and how we’ve leveraged our unique technological and operational scale to quickly innovate to better support Southeast Asia during this challenging period. We will also be speaking with various Grabbers who have been part of the planning and executing of measures during these tumultuous times.
Safeguarding Grabbers and their wellbeing
Various teams across our operating cities and R&D centres have been working from home for some time. We’re fully cooperating and coordinating with government agencies in these respective countries to adhere to their recommended guidelines.
Remote working / Split team arrangements made easy through agile tech support
To ensure business continuity, our Grabber Technology Solutions (GTS) team has ensured all internal infrastructure to be running amidst a higher volume of Grabbers working outside of the office. Daniel Foo, Head of Corporate IT Singapore, explains, “The teams across the region came together to prepare close to 1000 desktops / laptops ready within 10 days for the business to enable WFH. At the same time, we bumped up our VPN capacity from 4.5k to 15k concurrent connections.”
Their efforts were not in vain. With the majority of our Grabbers now working from home, they can work on their projects and tasks in a safe and secure network. Head of People Engagement, Natasha Wahap is highly appreciative of this. “The digital VPN truly allows us Grabbers to remain connected amidst the situation. As a producer of G! Radio, our internal radio station, it is crucial that we keep in close digital contact with each other during these trying times. Our online channels, such as Slack & Workplace, provide a safe and secure platform for us to continue working without disruption.”
The Split team arrangement is part of Grab’s Business Continuity Planning (BCP). Split team arrangements refer to allocating employees under alternate teams (e.g. Team A & Team B) who can be deployed according to different work schedules. Prior to working from home, we’ve segmented all teams into two categories to ensure the continuous operations of Grab’s services. While teams are strongly encouraged to not mingle offline, many Grabbers have found alternative ways of still keeping in touch. Sahkira Mhoonkaew who leads the Talent Acquisition Cordination (TAC) & Engagement Team in Thailand, explains, “We have weekly team meetings every Monday via Zoom to catch up about work and non-work related stuff like how everyone’s doing, what they’ve been binging on (food, Netflix). This helps us feel like we’re always connected to each other even while we’re working remotely.”
Keeping things positive in dynamic times
It is common to feel isolated if there are long-term work from home arrangements, and we’re constantly finding ways to allow our Grabbers to build stronger connections despite geographical obstacles. As such, we’ve built up a strong set of online and interactive libraries of assets for Grabbers to utilise and narrow the gap.
The Grabber Care Site (GCS) is another resource that offers our Grabbers practical and holistic support during these trying times. The portal serves as a way to enable Grabbers to equip themselves better with the right tools during this period of time. For managers, online booklets on how to manage teams through COVID-19 are available. For employees with children, there is a subsection dedicated towards Parenting Resources, which features podcasts for parents, as well as simple infographics and links for their children to understand what is the coronavirus.
We also have a dedicated section that talks about how we’re supporting the various SEA communities we serve and how our initiatives put in place help partners in their particular contexts.
Aside from our 4H principles (Heart, Hunger, Humility & Honor), we always speak on an additional 5th H: Humor! We’ve seen Grabbers getting highly creative through the sharing of tiktok videos, memes and issuing creative workout/outfit challenges on our various internal channels. Check them out below!
On a more interactive approach, we launched G! Radio, a bi-weekly internal radio station hosted by members of both the People Engagement and Employer Brand team. Isaac Chan, Assistant Manager of the Employer Branding team explains, “G! Radio serves as a vehicle for quicker COVID-19 updates to our employees. However, we also make sure it’s still relevant to the audience by having casual conversations with Grab leaders on their work from home arrangements, as well as their ways on coping with stay home measures.” Like its namesake, Grabbers can send song dedications. “Since we began, we’ve had numerous dedications from Grabbers to fellow coworkers, sending them words of encouragement and their favourite songs. It’s heartening to know we’re allowing employees to keep in touch through various means.”
Our annual Grabtitude Day, a day where Grabbers rejuvenate and recharge through a gamut of activities and workshops from our merchant collaborations, has also evolved into an online festival. We adapted to the current situation by providing more workshops and courses for Grabbers to care for their own well-being and psychological safety during these uncertain times. The best thing about Grabtitude Day this year was that Grabbers chipped in to share their own unique skills and abilities for fellow Grabbers to learn more about. We saw cooking videos, instructional dance videos, and even a cantonese dialect language tutorial – talk about multi-talented individuals!
Essential on-ground support for our driver- and rider-partners
Some aspects of the business still require on-ground fulfilment and activation. The Grab Driver Centres are the main bridging point between the Operations teams and our dedicated driver-partners. These teams that are at the forefront are well equipped with safety gears such as masks and hand sanitisers to ensure their wellbeing during their shifts. All Grab Driver Centers are deep-cleaned once every three weeks.
In Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Field Driver Support Leader Nguyễn Minh Dũng, recounts the preliminary weeks of COVID-19 when it arrived in the country. “Our proudest moment during this time was to be able to hand out to driver-partners thousands of GrabCare safety kits: 33,000 Facemasks; 14,000 sets of hand sanitizers and gloves.” He constantly reminds the team about the importance of their work, “What we do is extremely crucial to the safety of the driver-partners and customers community, and we’re contributing greatly to the fight against the current pandemic”. Across the region, Grab has distributed over 1 million masks, hand sanitisers and disinfectants to our drivers and delivery-partners.
We’re so grateful for our Grabbers who manage to keep their spirits up amidst Covid-19. It’s truly inspiring to see them making the best out of this situation. Check out the second part of our Covid-19 article where we share more on how we’re helping our business partners and users around Southeast Asia.
Need more information on how Grab is handling the COVID-19 situation? Check out these links: