The Pandemic Has Indeed Brought Some Revolutionary Changes, Putting HR At The Centerstage: HR Head, Stratbeans
In a recent interaction with BW People, S.K Nigam, HR Head of Stratbeans discussed the challenges of work from the home regime, nuances of driving businesses through the crisis, and the importance of communication for collaboration between employer and employees.
Remote working comes with a lot of benefits but still has some challenges. What are the challenges you faced as an HR Leader in managing the WFH Scenario?
The first challenge was to closely monitor the operations and take care of any hiccups that come up on the way. However, once the initial nerves settled in, this part became very easy.
Data security was another critical area. Before the pandemic, there were some modules where we were working on implanting the best of data security norms. As taking business completely online became imperative, we worked quickly to ensure the maximum network security.
Last but not the least, as the business model changed, we had to redesign some roles and responsibilities within the organization. For example, in the new online world, sales and business analysis teams will need to fit in pure work from home situation. Thus, we need to redesign the steps for these team members. Also, while doing so, we will ensure that there is no loss of headcounts.
This recent disruption has brought HR leaders to the forefront. How did you manage HR roles and also the business continuity during these difficult times?
The pandemic has indeed brought about some revolutionary changes for every business, putting HR and HR Tech at the centerstage. Having led Digital Transformation for hundreds of companies, we, as an organisation, are extremely agile, and working remotely has never been a challenge for our people. To ensure uninterrupted functioning and seamless communication amongst employees as well as clients, we are using smart project management and collaboration tools like Slack, Confluence, and Zoom. These platforms allow our employees to collaborate and do virtual meetings at any time. This whole set up gets value added by the collaboration platform - G Suite by Google.
Keeping in mind the safety and security of our employees, we advised them to work remotely way in advance at a time when not all organisations were thinking about it. Moreover, we have always had a flexible 'Work from Home' policy since the beginning, therefore, it didn’t come to us as a cultural shock. In order to ensure a positive work environment even at home, we used our own products for keeping employees connected in collaboration for work and improved efficiency. We added online fun rooms, and IMPROV sessions wherein people join from different locations and play mini-games. In fact, we received a very good response to these.
For smooth business continuity, we ensured uninterrupted connectivity amongst the team members. We have various specialists in the organisation and we made sure that they were well connected with the teams.In order to bring everyone under one umbrella, we are leveraging a solution called ASK Master ring. It is a product that makes it feasible for the groups to get access to these specialists who provide the teams with the relevant information.
What are some of the key lessons learned during this crisis; personally, and professionally as well?
This time has taught me that the future of HR and that of work will require an utmost emphasis on worker prosperity. Even earlier there were discussions about the importance of health & wellbeing and empathy at work. However, Covid-19 made it imperative for business leaders to connect with their teams beyond the work front and support them through tough situations.
This emergency is also an alarm for us to focus more on building the right skillset among employees (and potential hires). While we could still be some time away from full-scale hiring activity across sectors, HR leaders should search for the individuals who can adjust,
change, and learn at work. In other words, adaptability is the key for organisations to endure any future emergency.
On the personal front, I learned that people work better when they have peace of mind at home. More creative ideas see the light of day at the cozy corners of the home. The grapevine has changed. People are reporting their active involvement in household activities such as cooking and learning new things. They are posting pictures of their latest dishes on our company message boards. At the same time, we are seeing more happy conversations during virtual work meetings. So, I have reasons to believe that the two go hand in hand.
A number of technology tools used to facilitate smooth collaboration and communication between employees?
All in one desktop, this is the best configuration hardware we could place quickly at home, where heavy processing tasks were involved:
1.Articulate Peek for supervisors to share short instructions and video timeline feedbacks
2.Ask expert ring for making subject matter experts available online
3.Zoom for long calls
4.KMS for putting documents and quickly setting up work from home workflows
What is your prediction for the future that, how the future of work will look like?
Until the first few months of this year, work from home was more of an exception than a norm. Due to pressing changes posed by Covid-19, the world has realized that work from home was always easy to implement for the service industry. Now that we know its advantages such as operational cost optimization, better work-life balance, efficient virtual meetings, etc., I believe that even when we have overcome the pandemic, work from home will continue to be the preferred mode for corporates as well as employees. At Stratbeans, we will ensure work from home arrangements for nearly 80% of our staff. This is a big improvement from the present when about 25% of our staff works with Flexi hours.
Many corporates we serve are reaching out to us for remote knowledge transfer tools as they needed to work around visa & travel restrictions, optimize offshoring costs, and other expenses. I believe that even post-pandemic, corporates will continue to prefer these solutions as they have experienced measurable business advantages.