The new ways of the new world order. Managing People remotely, managing work remotely, less onsite- more remote. Work from Home, as a lifestyle instead of a rescue solution. With the impending emergency, suffering economies, drastic actions and plans are the need of the hour. While, customers’ expectations cannot be undermined, so cannot the health of an employee other than the government’s decision for lockdown, house arrest, limited access, social distancing etc.
Businesses must operate, economies must fight back, work has to happen. But how? Well, long before the advent of viruses and pandemics, businesses worked with people who operated remotely, who operated with consultants and freelancers form their homes. Work happened, software’s were developed and customers got billed. Taking those very simple examples, it’s time we not only realize the demands of the changing times, but also understand some benefits of such operational possibilities.
We certainly need to prepare, but before we do so let’s list out some broader benefits of such operations.
- Reduced Operations Cost
- Employee Motivation
- Transparent culture
- Performance driven remunerations
- Less intrusive work culture
While, the risks of such operations certainly are heavily balanced against the organization, it needs to be noted that all changes, take time, that eventually have large benefits. Work from Home, or a Remote location, does call for many a challenge of which few are listed below:
- Project Deliveries
- Parallel Occupation
- Learning and Development
- Work Management
- Data Security
- Contractual Obligations
To say a few COVID- 19 pandemic has particularly affected the Voice based BPOs, Hardware driven organizations, manufacturing based and other At Office/ factory/ facility Workforce majorly. While its well known, that not all industries can work remotely, for obvious reasons since one cannot shift an assembly line to someone’s backyard, neither can supplies happen sitting from home. Hence, our discussion is not around industries that cannot do with it, instead for industries that can work remotely, using technology (mainly a Computer and Internet), that significantly constitutes of a significant workforce. Also, the suggestion is not to completely shut down office operations, instead a flexibility to work from home or remotely, while keeping the option to visit or access the office infrastructure in need.
QUESTION THEN IS HOW DO WE DO IT?
Well, as we are aware, adversities create new opportunities | Crisis generates ideas. Here are some questions that need to be answered to undertake such an exercise:
- How can you be prepared?
- How can deliveries be managed?
- How can collaboration be seamless?
- How can data be kept secure?
- How to measure Productivity and Performance?
We have tried to answer such questions in three broader areas:
- Ensure SOPs for such situations are created and Systems and Processes are in place.
- Ensure Systems are online as standard for access anywhere for an Efficient Workforce.
- Ensure you have the right mix of solution to cater to such eventualities.
Plan, Implement, Run: BE READY ALWAYS!
1. Ensuring an Efficient Delivery Mechanism
- Prepare SOPs well in advance to prepare for such scenarios, or as discussed previously make it a part of ones work culture. Not just prepare, but implement such a culture, across departments and SBUs that can do with Work from Home. Undertake, Pilot and Trial programs to ensure effectiveness of such an activity. Measure against both environments, also prepare a roster with both options, a hybrid model.
- Immediately employ a consultant or an inhouse team to charter a plan to implement a fully integrated and automated system to ensure mission critical processes are managed.
- Compliance forms an extremely critical area that cannot be ignored and therefore organizations need to ensure all the business rules & compliance policies are enabled in the system, so not to hurry into solving the problem when resources are scarce.
- Employee accessibility, using Infrastructure and aided technology ensure that work force are always connected. Mobility seems to be the buzz word and now is the best time to ensure that such solutions are used to the fullest.
- During Remote Operations, collection of data from various sources for purpose of Work or Productivity is highly essential. Integrated Systems need to be put in place to collect and store such data realtime or deferred daily for processing of information at any given time.
- Routine Audits to ensure various workflow are configured in the system, to not be surprised at the last moment needs to be taken up, validating the needs to detailed workflow documentation and routine audits and checks to ensure a seamless movement from a Office to a WFH environment at any given time.
- A culture imbibed in the organization for continuous learning. Utilizing LMS systems, shortlisting of content providers and integrating data with various the providers, should be a natural process and a much-needed Digital Transformation strategy.
2. Effective Communication, Collaboration and Project Management.
While embracing systems that aide Digital Transformation, effective communication that flows from person to person as if walking down the corridor and passing on inputs to various teams, just so that timelines are achieved, means more than most challenges during this transformation. Emails were and will continue to be part of our communication system, however, to make it the core form of communication method for project delivery is outdated and cumbersome.
Collaboration software’s that can aide in interactions on real time basis are the need of the hour, with multiple team connecting and updating information, from texts to files.
Selecting from scores of collaboration solutions can at times become a tedious process, one needs to ensure that needs of an organization towards selecting such software solutions is done well in advance. Evaluating products and solutions and working with multiple vendors have been a thing of the recent future, however times are changing and managing multiple vendors can be a time-consuming process. Identifying the problems statement herein collaboration, evaluating and assessing various vendors and then implementing it as a solution, with integrations if there was a case of multiple systems- No time should be spared in deliberating, instead an Agile system to ensure that system gets implemented quickly to ensure systems are in place, is the need of the hour.
Along with collaboration, work needs various other elements to ensure an efficient delivery. Other than motivation and ownership, which comes with a system the ability of a system to throw light on productivity and results becomes a key factor in driving the software decision. Other than Project Owners & managers focusing on day to day delegation, scheduling and checking productivity, they spend more time exploring potentially efficient methods, technology research other than hands on project activities, this subsequently leads to fulfilling the project and corporate goals effectively.
Analytics for work and workforce have become a key area of focus during these times. Envision performance, across people, projects, managers, owners, industries, imagine tools that can throw light on costing and analytics, which help in deciding which industry to focus and which to not. People analytics, work performance, talent management, career development, are various other areas that Analytics plays a major role and ahh, we shouldn’t miss out on workforce motivation, sentiment analysis during these torrid times.
3. Data & Cloud Security
Whereas Data Security was always the need of the hour, it has never been more important than now. A need for a highly secure data environment, with such souls and competition lurking like vultures to snap a bite out, at any given time, makes the situation more precarious. Just recently Unacademy was hacked, user information data was made available to the buyers for $2000 only. It takes courage, hard work and dedication to build a company like that with 22 million user records. Thus, without much ado, whether one has a proper IT setup, a department or not; its extremely important that measures be taken to ensure, Cloud and other Applications are secured to the teeth.
Manage with Access Control Layers to ensure data is not visible to any and every one, build adequate SOPs to check systems across an organization. Undertake, IT Audits periodically to stay steps ahead of the competition. Make Data Security your priority rather than just your department.
Cloud environments are the thing of the present and the future. Legacy systems will be moved to cloud, sooner rather than later, infrastructure will always have cloud pipe to store and process data. Challenging as they may seem and costly as they are, its better, this particular need, has to be evaluated immediately, knowing very well that Data Security is married to this all.
Essentially considering a comprehensive plan to undertake a Digital Transformation in your organization, and ensure that before any such eventualities arrive, one is ready with the solution to quickly change colors. The Chameleon adapted to the change needed, the change was to hide from predators, hide in common sight, ensure that one doesn’t need to transcend into a different being but instead to change colors. Deceptive as it seems, it’s the way the world is moving, one has to be Deceptive in Adapting to this change and as simply put by Darwin- Survival of the Fittest, a theory so true for todays enterprises.
We elaborated a few select areas in this discussion, in favor of our preparation towards Digital Transformation and the strong need for the solution in these hard times. We will discuss more and in depth in our future articles, not only to discuss digital transformation but to look at such solutions in these difficult days.