How the right technologies can keep you engaged with your employees

AMIT GUPTA

As we get into the second month of the circuit breaker in Singapore, we are hearing a lot more about the difficulties that organisations and individuals are facing in operating as a remote workforce - or working from home.

As the CEO of a technology research and advisory platform, I am lucky to have some of the global experts and thought-leaders working remotely with us as part of our team.

While it is not easy for the staff to switch, and some find it harder than others, remote working is going to be an important part of our working life in the future.

It is something we need to get right in order to "survive to thrive".

People and engagement Let's face it - we are in a humanitarian crisis and the economic crisis is just a fallout of it. So, the impact on the people has to be the No 1 consideration.

Working from home can be a real culture shock. Gone is the ability to quickly speak to the colleague next to you, meet someone for lunch or even just have a discussion in the pantry.

Taking away these social interactions can affect employee morale and, therefore, productivity.

Putting effort into team building - as hard as it is to do remotely - is very important.

Groups on social messaging apps (outside the work-related ones) can help rebuild that camaraderie and strengthen social bonds.

Plan team-building exercises, such as quizzes, virtual drinks and even networking lunches, that can be done remotely.

Remember, the wellness of your teams is directly proportionate to the well-being of the business.

Process and practice Working from home requires a different mindset to being in the office, and it is easy to get dragged into an endless cycle of e-mails and conference calls. This often means that the act of planning and discussing replaces the act of doing.

This is where good practice from the pre-Covid-19 era becomes essential practice right now.

Note-taking, summarising discussions and recapping roles and responsibilities for project execution become paramount.

Documenting and tracking progress will have a positive impact on productivity and ensure that teams are focused on their collective and individual responsibilities.

There are many applications available to manage and monitor projects.

However, you may also select people to identify how processes have been affected by remote working and how to make better use of collaboration software.

Technology to get digital ready Teams need the applications to communicate and carry out their responsibilities diligently.

Luckily, in the age of cloud computing, most organisations were able to switch to a work-from-home environment quite easily.

Those that struggled were the companies that had not embraced digital and were not using any cloud-based software (for e-mail, collaboration, bookkeeping, human resource or customer relationship management) or those bound by strict compliance and cybersecurity measures which cannot be enforced in employees' homes.

While many organisations were already using a variety of communication and collaboration solutions, in the new work-from-home set-ups you may want to consider additional solutions to tackle your current challenges.

The good news is that many technology providers have made their offerings available for free trials during this period.

So, the financial outlay may be minimal or non-existent.

You should also not overlook the importance of cybersecurity. Regulations around data privacy are still applicable and home networks are not as secure as enterprise networks.

At the same time, social engineering and phishing attacks are also on the rise. So, be sure to provide regular updates to your teams with guidance on how they can help maintain the security of your data and networks.

As we come to terms with the current normal and get a glimpse of what the future normal may look like, we can see the old rule still applies.

That it is people, process and technology - in that order - that will get us through the current situation and set us up for continued success.

While no one has a crystal ball, it is actions - how you interact with your colleagues and the processes you put in place - and not technology that will ultimately best position your organisation to thrive in the future.

tabla@sph.com.sg

Amit Gupta is CEO and founder of Ecosystm, a disruptive technology research and advisory firm.

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