Invited as a guest to EUROBAK, please let us welcome Beeline Kazakhstan’s CEO, Yevgeny Nastradin. He discussed how the telco industry has gone through a difficult year in 2020, how nearly 4,000 employees of the company needed to return to the ‘work from home’ mode, what solutions were the most difficult, and why the company continued to work on new projects for business during lockdown.
Yevgeny, how has telecom gotten through this year with the ‘work from home’ mode?
Something unexpected happened, at one point, some of the infrastructure that operators had been building for 20 years in city centres and crowded areas was left unloaded. And by contrast, high-speed Internet was needed on the outskirts of cities, because instead of going to offices, subscribers stayed at home, in the micro districts. And not just stayed but were studying and working there.
It was impossible to predict this development. We had to strengthen the network on the outskirts of cities and other regions in a very short time. We bought additional equipment, transported equipment from one sector to another, and all this work our employees carried out without breaks and weekends, despite closed roads, roadblocks and logistical difficulties. There were many issues to be addressed simultaneously: ensuring the safety of the team and the smooth operation of services, supporting partners, clients and contributing to the communities.
Has all the staff been prepared for this development, and how have you managed to cope quickly and painlessly with all the difficulties of returning the staff to the ‘work from home’ mode?
As for the company, the transition has been relatively easy. Several years ago before the moment of the general mode of ‘work from home’, we’ve developed BeeFlex program, according to which employees could work remotely with the agreement of his/her manager. So, all the IT systems and remote access were ready.
As a result, 97 per cent of staff successfully have returned to the ‘work from home’ mode a year ago. Moreover, we have determined that for the whole year 2021 we will continue to work remotely on the principle of ‘work from anywhere’.
What have been the most difficult issues to be addressed: partner relationships, employee security and the development of a business continuity service, or the building of a new customer service scheme? And, we know that despite the current situation, you have managed to support several social projects as well?
Everything has been equally complicated. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed forced us to set major priorities.bWe have chosen five directions:
• Internal Processes – We have established an internal CR Committee, have returned all the staff to ‘work from home’ mode, including a call centre, and accelerating the implementation of an electronic workflow.
• Customers – Our engineers spent nights in the fields so that the network could withstand increased pressure. Consumption of Internet traffic in Kazakhstan has increased by 62%! In addition, we expanded coverage on a large scale, adding 660 new Kazakhstan villages to the Beeline network during 2020. It was in the villages where good communication was needed the most.
• Employees – We paid a lot of attention to the physical and emotional health of employees, setting up hotlines and insurance for employees from COVID-19, delivering care packs, holding corporate meetings in a phygital format and have increased internal eNPS indicators.
• Partners – We have shortened payment terms to Kazakhstani contractors, because many companies have worked under uncertain conditions and we wanted to support local business.
• Company – During quarantine we have cancelled the write-off of mobile communication charges for 200,000users of ‘Social’ tariff, given free communication to those ones who are stuck during quarantine in roaming, made free communication and internet for thousands of health workers and have built houses for 50 families during the flood in the Mahtaaral region.
How did the company cope with the fact that many retail outlets had been closed for most of the year? Or within returning online, could you manage this process?
Because of the closing of the retail outlets, hundreds of our employees have lost their jobs. But we have not reduced anybody from the workplace, we have not placed anybody on the street, and we have not reduced wages. Instead, we have equipped some of them with tablets and sent them to work in pharmacies to serve customers there. Because at some point, the only thing that was opened, were pharmacies.
In addition, we have created work for people by launching the ReSkilling re-education project. As a result, more than 300 frontline employees have been trained in new specialties – for example, fixed Internet connection specialists or programmers and RPA developers.
What is the status of implementing 5G in Kazakhstan? What are the immediate prospects of launching this frequency here?
The state is now faced with the choice of the 5G frequency allocation. We believe that the most transparent way is to distribute between operators through a public auction. Frequencies are a limited and non-renewable resource. Open and transparent distribution of this resource will support fair competition in the market and stimulate the development of the fifth generation networks. In world practice, there is also an option of sharing infrastructure between several market participants, which may be justified for Kazakhstan, taking into account the country’s geographical size.Related Topics