Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Viral Diaries

"It’s a part of adaptation and it’s more human than a process": Mayur Hola

In this dispatch for the Viral Diaries, the head of global brand, OYO Hotels and Homes tells us how he and his team would emerge invincible from the crisis.

What’s your tip for media/marketing professionals dealing with anxiety during these times? How can one focus better while working from home?

I wish there was one template but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. I have come to realise that you have to work with different people differently. But setting out the day’s agenda in the morning is really important. It’s a learning process, you fall a lot initially since you feel that everyone is working similarly. Every one’s different, you adapt to different persons differently while setting the agenda broadly. You don’t have a choice of adapting to the situation, but you should definitely adapt to people.

Which app/tool are you using to video conference with your team/clients? And what’s your go-to option for file sharing? And which is your go-to newspaper/website to stay updated?

We use Slack to interact internally as it can be modified to our choices. We made ourselves right at home by making our own OYO emojis on the platform. We use a mix of Hangouts and Zoom for meetings. The phone call, WhatsApp and Email is also there. For sharing files, we use Google Drive. I’ve always read (The Indian) Express, I also read Adweek. LinkedIn’s also become like a publication these days. And also Twitter.

How do you draw a line between using social media for information and cyber slacking?

I fluidly move between work and social media. I take a few minutes off and browse social and come right back. It’s is like a mini break and doesn’t hurt to see what the world is up to.

What do you miss most –and least– about office?

People from our background (advertising and communications) have always been good at working away from offices - going out for shoots, client meetings, etc. Working from home or even working on the move is not that hard for us and we’ve always done it.

I miss the fact that usually things quieten down after a while on reaching home from office. There’s a certain time after which things just ebb away. Working from home makes you a bit more accessible. Now people don’t know when the work day ends. It’s a part of adaptation and it’s more human than a process. So, we just have to go with it.

Also, being in office drags you into many small conversations that you don’t really need to get into. Being away from office has always given me a higher visibility of things and I am always able to pre-empt better. Just by watching the chatter on groups, on emails, etc, I am able to pre-empt. In office, you tend to react to the situation more. I like being away like that and often urge my teams to look at things from the outside.

How frequently do you check-in on your team? What’s the ideal frequently, according to you – any theories?

You can set an ideal frequency and chances are, it’ll fall apart in 12 hours time. I did a frequency and it didn’t work. You set the agenda in the beginning and catch up in the evening. And through the day, you adapt to people and do what is best according to the individual or the task.

Lastly, what’s the one thing you see yourself doing differently once the work-from-home phase ends? To rephrase, what’s the biggest lesson here, for you?

There have been tough times in my career where I’ve been thrown into situations, say, a tough agency you are in, or a tough client or a project. You walk out of these feeling that after this there is nothing that can scare you. Situations like this (COVID/WFH) prepares us similarly. I don’t think I’ll have any fear after this. I have a huge amount of gratitude for the team and I am confident about what they can do. Throw anything at us, we will do it. As we get better at pre-empting, we’ll probably do it before you throw it at us.

Viral Diaries is a series of special interviews, a daily peek into how advertising, media and marketing professionals are dealing with working from home in these trying times.