Work from home: Digital tools are helping evolve a new work culture

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Published: April 6, 2020 12:15:36 AM

Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Zoom are enabling businesses to create a collaborative work environment.

Working from home has led to a big question for HR and business managers about how they are going to measure the productivity of ‘unseen’ employees.

With the offices having shifted to homes of employees, the norms of working and productivity definitions have radically been changed overnight in most Indian organisations. This poses a new challenge for both employees and businesses as working from home is an unfamiliar phenomenon that they are now getting used to.

Working from home has led to a big question for HR and business managers about how they are going to measure the productivity of ‘unseen’ employees and how to motivate the employees to deliver on their designated responsibilities. While on the one hand, downsizing or use of robots are being touted as possibilities for certain jobs, currently most managers are concerned about how to continue to meet their commitments towards their customers and support employees for making this happen.

Necessity is the mother of invention and innovation. We have already seen apps being installed in the mobile phones and other devices which provide daily reports and analytics to their managers about the time spent by the employees on various tasks, responses to customers and thus compare real time productivity of the teams. Digital platforms like Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Zoom are some of the examples which are enabling organisations to create collaborative work environment for meetings and discussions, thus continuing to maintain the human touch and create connectedness with the organisation.

What is also interesting is that some organisations who never ever considered work from home as feasible or saw use of disruptive digital technologies in their businesses for certain customer-facing roles as non-starters, are rethinking the role definitions and the number of resources required to be deployed.

Many companies in Europe and the US have been conditioned to work from home, as a result of which they had a robust cyber security system to access data and enable an environment outside of the firewall. Organisations who have been implementing cloud based solutions for their key applications could swiftly shift operations to homes.
However, many Indian firms which have been forced to implement work from home policy at short notice, have to strengthen their data storage and security systems. Employees need to be vigilant against potential phishing attacks, false emails or text messages from malicious actors posing as their bosses seeking vital data.

Covid has sounded a wake-up call to businesses that have already been in the throes of digital transformation to consider further changes empowered by a combination of commonly available tools and some custom solutions. This has led to an urgency to understand and redefine the needs of the customers as well as learn to do more with less, resulting in new opportunities for optimisation of costs and enhancing productivity in their operations.

As businesses try to rethink their paradigm and show resilience in their strategy, this is the time when employees have to be coached to recognise that success as defined in the past would no longer be relevant and they need to adapt to the new normal defining new metrics for success.

Along with continuous communication and engagement facilitated by digital technology, the effort should also be to enable employees to act with more confidence, speed and resourcefulness in the current scenario as well as in the post pandemic era. Digital tools have the potential to make the employees think and act together, thus co-evolving a new culture in the organisation.

(The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company)

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