Back in the summer of 2008, a meeting request came floating into the mailbox of a group of colleagues working in BIA and PIA. It read, “You have been selected to be a part of the sports committee.” As an athlete myself, who had only been at Secure for less than a year, being a committee member was an exhilarating experience. Without spending much time, I clicked the ‘accept’ button and grinned like a kid.
The first meeting began with introductions and discussions about what we could do to nurture the newborn baby– our sports committee. I call it a baby because, like a baby, it needed ‘namkaran sanskara’ (naming ceremony) and a home to flourish and grow in. After a brainstorming session among the members, we came up with the name Offline, where no online work was done. An unused space was identified where we could build Offline. The challenges ahead were tidying up the area, the arrangement of the sports facilities (both indoor and outdoor), organising tournaments, and the biggest challenge was generating enthusiasm among all employees regarding this facility. But these challenges brought the team together. It created a strong bond among us as we worked together to achieve our dream.
The team led by Chhavi Ranjan Narayan Sir and Rajeev Dashora Sir and supported by the Administration and Utility teams started working as though on a Development Requirement Note. Chhavi Sir, Rajeev Sir, Suket Sir and Ashok Sir acted as Program Managers, facilitating and managing the requirements and getting the ball rolling whenever and wherever it was stuck. Vinod, Neeraj, Lokesh, Tirup, Subhash Ji and Arun Pandey Ji were part of the Procurement team, bringing in the sports arrangements in time. Umesh maintained Offline’s account. The ladies Pranita, Perine, and I worked as the Creative team, looking after the ambience of Offline. We decorated it with posters, marked areas for different sports facilities and drafted the inaugural mailer. While an Offline inauguration was planned at PIA, Neelam, Pradhumna, Prasoon, Swati, Bhoomika and Ram Singh Ji brought Offline to life at BIA.
Within a month from the first Offline meeting, the team, where no one knew each other and everyone was from different departments, became more like a close-knit family. Fun, frolic, and humour all filled our life’s worksheets. We took pride in our association with Offline. Finally, on 19th June 2008, Offline was inaugurated. The inauguration was followed by a doubles table tennis match between Directors (SJS and BSB) v/s Rest (HCG and Ashok Purohit). It was a momentous day for team Offline as the dream we all worked for became a reality.
We thought it would be difficult to attract people to Offline, but the opposite happened. Every day at lunchtime and after 6:15 PM Offline flooded with people from various departments playing together. Without even realising it, the team spirit that started Offline created many strong friendships and improved team spirit within the organisation. People became more helpful to one another, and if you got stuck, you could rely on your new friends. Slowly and steadily, collaboration filled the air. Everyone started realising the importance of being together as a team and what could be achieved when we worked together.
Soon Offline organised tournaments like volleyball, the Entity Cricket Cup, table tennis, carrom and chess. You could see people making teams and teaching their colleagues how to play each sport. Employees became carriers of our values through the events. Offline also worked with MAST in events like Paper Plane Flying, Children’s Day celebrations, Sitolia and kite flying.
Offline was a dream team, free of language barriers, departmental barriers, or seniority differences. Each member was free to express their ideas. Critical evaluation of all ideas yielded the best results every time. One such idea was taking team entries online, which continues to date. Whenever the team reached a milestone in successfully executing an event, there were celebrations to acknowledge our unity.
The members’ teamwork, mutual respect and openness were the key to Offline’s success. We were no longer 21 members from different departments. We were now just OFFLINE – a culture of togetherness and collaboration that aspires to continue forever.