1. Modern teams and #PresenceParadox

Modern teams and #PresenceParadox

According to NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), India will have the largest young workforce by 2020, with 29 being the average age.

Published: September 18, 2017 3:31 AM
Workplace productivity should not be equated with ‘presence at the workplace’. It’s time to do away entirely with this presence paradox.

India has progressed immensely over the last few decades and is well on its way to becoming the next economic superpower. The possibilities are immense and the world is watching with bated breath. But who will lead India into the future? According to NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), India will have the largest young workforce by 2020, with 29 being the average age. It’s obvious that millennials will take forward the baton for India to move to the next level. But they can drive the nation towards a better future only if they are empowered with the right tools and ammunition.

What do millennials need, why?

While millennials aren’t ‘different’ human beings, they do have certain defining character traits. Many of the young ones I meet are ambitious and focused. They do want to achieve more but are equally impatient. They tend to be more focused on the quick turnaround of projects, rather than on following workplace processes and procedures. These traits and preferences differ from those generally seen in previous generations. The more senior folks were more patient in dealing with roadblocks and overheads in doing their jobs. Their attitude towards work was different, including their expectations when it came to a perfect work-life balance. It’s no wonder, then, that so many organisations today are finding it difficult to keep up with millennials and modern work styles. They are in a fix!

Slowing down… workplace efficiency and productivity

Technology, and the speed at which it has evolved, is a big part of this puzzle. Millennials are fast learners and are constantly running ahead in the productivity race. That’s why seniors and more experienced professionals need to upgrade their tech skills to keep up with millennials’ speed. At any rate, workplace productivity should not be comprised. And this brings me to the most vital point. Workplace productivity should not be equated with ‘presence at the workplace’. In fact, it’s time to do away entirely with this presence paradox. For millennials, commuting is often an impediment to work, and not just part of the job, as was accepted by their seniors. And urban congestion levels only make matters worse. The time an employee spends on commuting to and fro work, which often totals up to four hours everyday, could be better spent on doing actual work. Or, better still, split between work and leisure. In fact, this urge to improve one’s work-life balance holds true across different generations of workers. Four hours is, after all, half of the eight hours one is assumed to work for. A 33% time overhead is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Many studies have shown a strong correlation between long commutes and worsening human health. In a country where many end up working long hours, commute-related health issues can only worsen the general work experience. According to a survey by Mintel, the global market research and market insight firm, over one in five Indians aged between 18 and 64 (22%) are concerned about being tired and fatigued. About 52% of Indians are concerned about their health and immunity due to extended hours spent for work. Sleep deprivation is more of an epidemic than ever before. And it has been proven by medical science that lack of sleep affects performance, attention and long-term memory, and encourages drug and alcohol use.

Virtual workplace—not such a distant reality

It’s time to rethink policies like mandatory card-swiping or logging-in from office computers to signal presence at the workplace. Instead, companies should allow their employees to work at their pace and place, with their choice of coffee and clothes. Virtual workplaces also help companies save on real estate and operational expenses. At the same time, they enable employees to work from anywhere, without worrying about extensive travel or coming late to work. However, many organisations are reluctant to allow flexi-working, or work-from-home, for two primary reasons. Firstly, as collaboration is essential, it is expected that teams will have to sit together in one place. And secondly, employers may find it difficult to ensure that employees working from outside the office are actually being productive. Team messengers to the rescue Technology is a big burner of such excuses. By deploying Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS), or simply team messengers, companies can solve all their communication woes. Team messengers are built on the foundation of instant messaging and can be customised to suit the needs of virtually all types of enterprises. They are pretty much a one-stop shop for the communication and project collaboration needs of enterprises and SMBs alike. With team messengers, geographically-dispersed teams and individuals no longer have to be present in the same room to collaborate. They can connect via a simple chat interface, and do so many vital tasks. They can easily share documents, set calendar events, track project status, and get on video calls instantly. There are many team messengers—allow me to mention Flock—that allow users to integrate other apps, and receive and respond to notifications from within the messenger itself. The very nature of team messengers allows managers to easily connect with their team members and stay on top of things. They no longer have to worry about issues such as transparency and productivity when it comes to remote workers.

Make the switch!

Ultimately, equipping the workforce with tools like team messengers will empower them to work from anywhere and motivate them to take charge of their schedules and plans. That’s why I believe that team messengers are set to play a revolutionary role in modern workplaces.

Bhavin Turakhia
The author is founder and CEO, Flock, the real-time messaging and collaboration app for teams. He is also the co-founder of IT services company Directi.
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