LIFE @ZERO DISTANCE

By Gopal Krishnan, Chairman, Ninestars

The continued global uncertainty around COVID-19 feels like an elaborate adaptation of a Stephen King novel with the right amount of suspense, horror and drama. By now, we have realized that even the most carefully drafted crisis plans are inadequate. And that there is simply no playbook.

The world is at ‘zero distance’ and our true tenacity is coming to fore.

Work @zero distance: Home is the new office and work-life blend is the new reality. The saved time in commute is going straight into stretched hours at work. Everyone seems to be working 2x.

Family @zero distance: The work pressure combined with challenges at home need to managed. On the bright side, we are spending more time with family. Let’s make the best of it, support each other and come out stronger.

Wellbeing @zero distance: Health, immunity, wellness, spirituality – all are imminent priorities today. Never have I seen such a keen interest in yoga and Ayurveda to tap into inner wellbeing. Wellness sessions streaming live, experts and gurus sharing insights, and a growing digital audience – all at zero distance.

Events @zero distance: With prestigious events and popular shows going virtual, our social and business calendars look very different. Would the zero-distance networking help us keep connected in a world devoid of travel and conversations in person?

Entertainment @zero distance: One of the worst hit industries in the current crisis, the road to survival for entertainment seems digital. Big budget movies are premiering on OTT platforms. The digital content consumption understandably has grown in double digits across channels. The show indeed must go on.

Retail @zero distance: One click to everything on a wishlist. The increasingly seamless, interactive and intuitive experience not just takes the hassle out of shopping but even makes it enjoyable within the comfort of home. Prompted by social distancing, direct to consumers to their doorsteps is growing rapidly even among traditional shoppers.

Home dining @zero distance: Recently I had an exclusive dining experience at home, thanks to a five-star hotel chain in Bangalore. It was an amazing service, from food to hospitality–so signature of the brand–but now served right at my dining table. It was the premium hotel brand’s way of ensuring its valued customer does not miss out on the dining experience. Go where the consumer is, did you say?

Healthcare @zero distance: Your doctor will see you now, online. Telemedicine has been around for a while, but it has pivoted with a new sense of urgency. On-demand healthcare is on the rise and so is the transformation through AI-enabled systems and wearable devices. Add predictive healthcare and blockchain electronic health records, and you start to see the picture.

Sports @zero distance: Stadiums might be empty, but the world of e-sports is buzzing with excitement. We are yet to hear the updates for the year from big-ticket sport event organizers but I’ll not be surprised if they check in to digital arenas.

So, there it is. From work to social life to services we rely on, zero distance is reshaping not just our business but life at large.

Earth Day Celebration

Because of coronavirus restrictions, we turned our Earth Day celebrations online. We asked some of our nature enthusiast colleagues to send in their entries for home garden and received a ton of beautiful pictures. Check out these images here.

Leading through the crisis

By the time you read this blog post, COVID-19 has brought the world to a pause. All of a sudden, and sooner than anyone could have envisioned, it was time to go remote. From 4 March, Ninestars announced work from home, starting from the city of Bangalore where our technology and corporate teams are located. On 12 March, immediately after the World Health Organization’s announcement that COVID-19 was a pandemic, remote working was initiated in all our locations.

Challenges are plenty. Our IT team along with delivery team are stretching hours and adopting innovative approaches to ensure we return to business as usual at the earliest across all projects. On the other hand, working from home and working together virtually is a new experience for most of our teams. It is a transition which is difficult but necessary at the moment with India and several other nations opting for lockdown to contain the virus spread.

We reached out to our colleagues to see how they were doing. Some like Dimitar Mitrev, Managing Director of Ninestars Bulgaria, sure knows how to make the best of challenging times. Let’s hear from Dimitar himself:

On finding safety and something to cheer about: Just before our government declared the quarantine and the state of emergency, I moved with my family to my grandma’s house in the countryside, not too far from Sofia. I decided to benefit from the situation and spend my time before/after work in farming, prepared the land for planting and seeding vegetables. So we’re all good and happy here!

Changes at work: Nothing much changed since here in Bulgaria ‘work from home’ program is very popular, but now in isolation it is different. Knowing you can’t go anywhere or meet anyone without the risk of meeting the virus too – my daily routine changed significantly! I love my family, so safety comes first – in the past two weeks I had to adapt to working from home.

Key benefits from remote working:

  • Learn how to manage your time at your best and do as much as possible in so little time because I often got my little helper around me! Growing your patience is something you master after two weeks of WFH!
  • Learn how to communicate at your best because it’s very difficult to coordinate and manage operations in an entirely virtual environment (Skype and Teams are your best friends!)
  • Learn how to follow up on the assigned tasks. In the office, it’s super easy to solve anything while virtually it requires a proactive approach and a well-organised schedule of tasks.
  • Discover the invaluable treasure I have at home and how many moments I’m missing while I’m away – looking at my wife and my boy I just feel happy! My wife is helping me so much in raising our son and he is on the fire of curiosity all the time! 😃 So without her, I wouldn’t have had even half a day of proper working time.

Employee Spotlight: The stars of Ninestars

The wall at the cafeteria in our Bangalore office features a detailed mural full of characters from your favourite comic books. And when you walk down to the 3rd-floor reception, the stark grey wall also flaunts beautiful chalkboard styled motifs featuring doodles that changes every quarter. All this is the artwork of our Graphic Designer Abhishek A.

 Abhishek develops engaging concepts, layouts and on-brand pixel-accurate graphics from brochures, posters, logos, infographics, et al to ensure a consistent brand perception.

We caught up with the artist behind the Graphic designer whose style merges a storytelling impulse with semi-abstract art. Abhishek incorporates elements of repetition, texture, stillness, and rhythm in his artworks.

When did you first know you were an artist?
As early as I can remember, I always drew. I still remember those days sitting in my room drawing and creating imaginary worlds on paper. I didn’t consider myself an artist until high school. I went to Chitra Kala Parishat, the fine arts school in Bangalore, which is where it all came together for me as an artist.

Which artists have played a role in influencing your style?
Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin, M F Hussain, and S H Raza are my favorite artists. All of them are amazing with their unique style. For my work, I like doing semi-abstract work blending realistic and semi-realistic art. My favorite artworks are:
Salvador Dali – The Meditative Rose
Paul Gauguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
S H Raza – The Universe
M F Hussain – Horse Sketches

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not painting?
As I am a visual designer, I love creating art-pieces whenever I get a chance. I also teach drawing and painting skills to kids in my free time. Several of my students have won State & National awards (Student categories). I also love Badminton which is a huge stress buster for me. I love playing a game of badminton every morning.

What is it like working at Ninestars?
Working in Ninestars is a great opportunity in terms of freedom for my creativity, to bring my artistic skills in digital work for event collaterals, UI designing and illustration. I also get to create artistic wall murals here!