We’ve recently completed the 1st anniversary of Work-From-Anywhere (WFA). In this year, we have experienced that effective communication drives teamwork and is essential for success in a remote working environment.

Within 4-5 weeks of commencement of COVID-19, SLK Global took this challenge in our stride! We enabled 60% of employees to WFA. During this time, 2400+ systems with dual monitors, additional laptops, broadband, dongles, UPS, and more were arranged. We also set up an IT toll-free number for tech support, WeCare and L&D Helpdesks for supporting the employees.

As a part of our series of articles on enabling Work-From-Anywhere (WFA), the first being ‘Remote working – The New Normal: How to enable it quickly’ https://lnkd.in/eAhFggU and the second being ‘Overcoming data security challenges in a remote working environment’  https://bit.ly/2XXjhqk, this article attempts to address challenges of employee morale, connectedness and motivation in a WFA environment.

Employee connectedness has always been important for any organisation. It has become all the more important now as face to face interactions have become limited. While WFA has been beneficial to employees and the company, there are challenges that still need to be addressed. A few of the challenges and a mitigation plan are listed below.

Work-life Balance

Pros:

Employees may have seen higher productivity levels and decreased stress levels. They’re able to work from the comfort of their own home and save travel time. In turn, companies have saved on transportation and seat costs.

Cons:

We have seen the blurring of boundaries between one’s personal and professional life. Due to this, employees continue to work overtime, miss out on dedicated lunchtimes and face issues with not being able to unplug after working hours.

Social Connection

Pros:

Employees are able to give their children, spouses and elders more time and attention. A lot of people have laid off house helps, babysitters and are playing a more active and involved role in their households.

Cons:

The switch from spending 8 hours with colleagues daily to seeing them online in case of a meeting has been a sudden change. Living in isolation may have also bred feelings of insecurity, ‘what-ifs’ and fear due to a lack of regular and easier face-to-face communication.

Virtual Communication

Pros:

Employees don’t have to worry too much about their appearance during virtual meets. They also have the liberty to set up work stations wherever they want and feel most inspired! They are able to stay in touch with each other from anywhere at any time.

Cons:

WFA has made way for a lack of clarity on briefs, tasks and a loss of passive knowledge-sharing as well as eliminated catching onto non-verbal cues. This is impacting our relationships with our colleagues.

Mitigation Plan:

Here is a 3-C approach (Check-ins, Clarity and Compassion), we’ve put into practice at SLK Global, which has given us positive results. I’d like to share them with you as you may find them useful to implement in your organisation.

  1. Check-ins

Check-ins include informal communication with the employees to ensure that they’re doing well and are happy at work. SLK Global has implemented a robust communication calendar with an aim to keep the work culture alive, be it through screens.

The following were introduced:

  • Arranged for multi-level connects depending on the message and audience
  • Initiated daily connects with updates regarding the COVID situation through daily SMS, mailers, screensavers, regular communication via Intranet, social media, online meets through online collaboration tools
  • Introduced a weekly ‘Tea Time with COO’; while other leaders host frequent ‘Coffee Connects’ with their team
  • Daily BCP call to address the COVID situation; that is still being hosted twice a week as Opex call.
  • HR department makes an honest effort to share updated tips to maintain a work-life balance, provide guidance on device-free breaks, home workspace management, health and hygiene, etc.
  • Blocking employees’ calendars for lunch, tea and dinner; so that employees can enjoy their meals as well as are ensured dedicated breaks
  1. Clarity

We regularly reach out to employees, understand their pain points and address them promptly. We provide support about time management, prioritization, and productivity improvement through online training, self-improvement workshops and more!

  • Introduced ‘COO’Live’ sessions (since March 2020, 13 such sessions have been hosted), where we share regular updates about the impact of COVID on the business, our business continuity plan, client concerns & appreciation, SLA hits, volume surge, hiring plans, WFA policies for IT, data security, etc.
  • Organised 54 BU Leaders connects along with the HR Head, 14 exclusively HR Head connects and 70,000+ HR partner connects
  • Covered 140 Managers on remote working training
  1. Compassion

At SLK Global, we always aim to be empathetic, transparent in order to promote a healthy working environment for employees. We work as a team, listen to employee concerns, offer support, encouragement, convey gratitude and appreciation to every employee.

  • Initiated a buddy/mentor relationship program hoping to positively impact the work culture. This helps maintain mental, physical, emotional & professional well-being
  • Introduced a ‘Hybrid Working’ model where WFA employees are requested to visit the SLK Global office once in two months. These face-to-face visits encourage team bonding, upskilling and more!

COVID came as a threat to the industry, challenging all business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Few organisations like ours converted this threat into an opportunity by creating a unique, profitable, employee-friendly stream of running operations i.e., WFA.

While this is a vast topic, I intended to briefly address few high level action items that were undertaken at SLK Global and that may be applicable to various industries. Please feel free to reach out for detailed insights if required.

 

Deepak Bhatia

COO – SLK Global Solutions

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