On a busy Wednesday afternoon, it was an atmosphere with a comfortable blend of discipline and enthusiasm, the kind healthy diversity introduces to a workplace. The office seats industry veterans from our facility management and project management businesses, in addition to young graduates working with Mr. Homecare and Hammer and Mop (our home services divisions). This allows a breath of fresh air.

The pantry at SILA‘s Mumbai headquarters was empty, that afternoon, and all assistants were out tending to the folks having lunch. One of the senior executives walked in to grab a quick coffee when the shrill ring of the phone shattered the silence.

The phone in the pantry rings as a summon, its message not as ambiguous as the messages of those phones which ring all across the office otherwise. You may not know who is calling you if the phone on your desk rings, and you would not be able to guess the message either.

However, it is always clear why this particular one rings. Someone, somewhere in this office needs a beverage or a quick glass of water. Requests are communicated to the pantry assistants in a crisp, urgent tone when the phone call is received and the action is promptly taken. This, however, when the phone call is received by the pantry assistant.

The phone was ringing and there was no one in the pantry, except for the senior executive. There was no need for him to pick up the phone. These tasks can always wait for the right representative. These tasks need no urgent intervention of a personnel neither directly related nor responsible. These facts refused to bother the person in question. He shrugged and picked the phone up.

“Hello, Pantry?” he asked.

The caller did not identify the receiver and barked a crisp (yet polite) request to get a cup of tea at a certain desk. Not knowing the exact location, the senior executive in question asked for the caller’s identity and the person on the other side suddenly seemed unsure, not exactly knowing whether he has called the right extension.

Smiling, the receiver clarified that it is indeed the pantry number, shared his name and offered to pass on the message to the pantry assistant. Taken aback, the caller apologized and apologized again, as the receiver assured him that there is absolutely nothing to be sorry about – and he would be perfectly happy to help his colleague acquire a cup of tea at the earliest.

It was at this time that an assistant walked in, and noticed this conversation taking place. The message was passed on, tea was brewed and dispatched across to the right desk. All the people involved in this process had a smile on their face.

Stepping into Each Other’s Shoes

This particular incident ensured a step towards building empathy between colleagues. No task is too small for a person, and helping colleagues with minor errands should be done with ease. SILA regularly lives through stories which propound dignity of labor, and that is the spirit with which we serve – our patrons and each other.