Remote work culture is not unknown to the Indian working community. Yet, the system of work in India has always been pretty physical. Even after being one of the biggest technology hubs of the world supporting world leaders like Google, Microsoft, and Apple, India always lacked self adoption of technology for itself. However, it took a global pandemic to make the Indian workforce accept remote work culture.
With this sudden change in style of work, there is a lot of agitation in the employee base. As a CEO of a recruitment firm and tech startup, it became my responsibility to help my teams adapt, overcome and improvise without losing their charm of efficiency. Both businesses are completely different in the nature of their operations. Therefore, it wasn’t really easy to have a common strategy which could work across. Let me share what I along with my team’s proactive contribution did to make that happen.
Here's what you will learn
Time & Patience
As the COVID-19 cases began shooting up, we started shifting our employees living far off to start working from home. Those who had equipment to work started right away. Those who did not have equipment or technical support were helped by our internal IT team from transportation of workstations to installation of internet and webcams.
Slowly, but progressively we shifted our entire office to a remote working system before even the lockdown was imposed. What advantage did it give to us? More time to adapt, and more space to breathe for teams to get accommodated with the new environment of isolation and almost no supervision. The productivity dropped a little during the transition period, but with proactive contribution, everyone came back to the earlier flow within a week itself.
Facilitation & Management
One of the important things that every remote employee needs is transparency of allocated tasks and seamless communication across teams. With different teams having different requirements, we started exploring the best online team management tools to facilitate communication. Surprisingly, the teams had already found their own ways of management.
While Engineering & Product teams work on Gitlab, the Operations, Sales and Marketing teams use slack to keep the strings attached. We as management were proud of the spirit that our teams showcased and let them work with whatever they found comforting, without any restrictions. Afterall, remote working is most effective when highly flexible.
Freedom & Reporting
While working in the office we used to have daily huddles to streamline tasks for the day and its associated timelines. With remote work in place now, there’s a sense of responsibility and ownership that can be seen amongst all employees. Every team member is making the best use of their bandwidth by picking up multiple tasks and working on self-set timelines.
This process has not only provided freedom of work to the employees, it has made reporting and surveillance much more transparent. The timelines given are not extensive, but are met strictly ensuring a smooth flow even amid a pandemic atmosphere. Every manager is now data driven and highly objective in feedback. I am sure this will reduce the biased and subjective narratives within the teams.
Flexibility & Constraints
Our work timings used to be of 9 hours to be covered between 9-7. The working hours were fixed, but with flexibility in timing. Thinking about this, it is not surprising to know that an average employee spends only 5-6 hours actually working in the office if post-commutation relief, lunch, breaks, casual conversations, and other exceptions are excluded.
Now that we are working remotely, the first thing that went away is the hectic commute. Every employee is at the comfort of his/her home. They can begin the day without feeling exhausted after travelling. Except for the online meetings, they can wear any outfit they are comfortable in. In other words, the flexibility of work is not gone but transformed into the comfort of work from home. That’s why I still keep work timings the same as they were before.
Just A Phase Or A New Ideology?
According to the observations I have made within my team and through my fellow peers in the industry, the remote employee system is here to stay for the greater good. In India, there are many constraints that reduce employee productivity including traffic, pollution, and others. With remote culture, these aspects will reduce significantly.
The way my team has responded to abrupt changes in the work environment and how they have kept supporting the business through these tough tides, makes me slightly bent towards remote culture more today. The remote culture will rise both within my company, and in the Indian corporate community. The pace, inclusiveness and quantity of its contribution can only be decided after the lockdown is over and we observe both the trends as a hybrid.