We Are One Big Family: Heather Gupta, MullenLowe Lintas Group

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Heather Gupta
Group HR Director MullenLowe Lintas Group
MullenLowe Lintas Group
Full Service
Mumbai, India
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Since employees have transitioned to working from home, how has the agency been helping them to adapt?

Since the lockdown started in March, we have been supporting our employees with infrastructure and tech support and emotional and mental support to help them remain resilient and healthy. We are all on this journey together, and it’s important to keep a sense of belonging intact. 


How are the attitudes of employees evolving as the crisis continues?

Conversations with our employees and surveys indicate that stress and mental health issues increase as time goes on. With no end to the lockdown situation, and with some employees and their families also contracting COVID-19, stress levels are steadily rising. 


What has been the most challenging part of working from home for team members?

Apart from the obvious challenges of juggling home and work responsibilities, the most challenging part has been not meeting co-workers in person. People form enormous bonds with their teammates, and though they may be seeing them virtually daily, we are all missing the in-person interaction, as well as our office spaces.


Have there been any changes made within your agency to ease the process?

The HR team is actively reaching out to all employees regularly and ensuring that they are proactively supported. We have been running fun and wellness activities to ease the pressure. We have also started training our leaders in Mental health First Aid to ensure that support can be cascaded throughout the organization. We are also taking steps to ensure that all our people can manage their workloads and have created a pool of freelance support that can be quickly activated when required. 


Has anything been done to try and preserve the office culture? How has the reception been internally?

Our Lintas culture is extremely strong – we are one big family, with compassion at the heart of the company. This culture has become even more persuasive throughout 2020 – it is embedded in the kinds of people we are and how we support each other. This “spirit of Lintas” has been reflected back to me over and over again by our employees. 


Are you planning to return to the office? Is there a plan to make some of the initiatives started during the pandemic?

We have no plans to return in 2020, and we will need to see how 2021 is looking from a safety perspective. We will certainly look at new ways of working based on the learnings from 2020. More flexibility, trust, agility, and a continued focus on physical and mental wellness will certainly be key themes we will retain. 


What are some common mistakes you’ve seen from agencies transitioning to working from home? Do you have any tips?

One big mistake would be assuming that people can work from home without a problem. We have to remember that everyone’s situation is different, and we need to be mindful that support may be required to make it work, both from a resourcing and an emotional perspective. The biggest advice I would offer is – keep reaching out. Don’t assume everyone is fine; be proactive in connecting with people and celebrating their resilience and achievements.