EMBACING REMOTE WORK CULTURE AMID THE COVID19 CRISIS.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain’t so” - Mark twain

Politically every country is demarcated with boundaries but economically we are boundaryless. Globalization brought uniformity in work cultures and diversity in innovation. The globalized world economy has never been immune to any crisis but togetherness turned abnormal into a new normal and made us bounce back with more conviction and brought complexity in global trade every time. We witnessed Global meltdown periodically from the east Asian crisis 1997 to 2019 trade war.

Every steep down point in the graph indicates the worldwide economic crisis; this is the testimony of our connectedness in economic perspective.

ENEMY AT THE GATES - COVID19

COVID19 locked down nearly a quarter of the human population across the globe and nearly 7 lakh people got infected till now. We are the first human generation witnessing globalized insecurity with an unpredictable future. COVID19 sounds to be an economic pandemic if we look into the Coronavirus Impact index published by Computer Economics in Collaboration with their parent company Avasant.

The footprint of this economic pandemic is going to affect important sectors of the economy. If we look into the index it is the best pictorial representation that I have ever seen with meaningful predictability but it is bitter. Every sector of the economy is interlinked and Information

Technology products and services are part of every sector. As old age people are more vulnerable to COVID19, the IT sector is also so vulnerable to this economic pandemic because New Forrester Forecast Shows That Global Tech Market Growth Will Slip To 3% In 2020 And 2021. But every challenge is an opportunity because we have another side of this economic pandemic. The study of Computer economics notes that Zoom, Slack, GoToMyPC, Zoho Remotely, Microsoft Office365, Atlassian, and others are already seeing increased demand as companies increase their remote-working capabilities.

This index is the testimony that shows how strong our enemy is. This is the right time for the firms to embrace remote work culture to continue with the same productivity levels to minimize the damage. Many firms may not have an effective strategy to maintain the same productivity because they are oblivious to remote work culture.

BATMAN BEGINS - Remote work

In general project managers are in the frontline of remote work and they are to be driven with intuition instead of instincts. In general Effective remote model consists of three steps

The excellence you attained might be accidental because here you are not creating any sustainable procedure to finish your task. When you are driven by an intuition you always try to find perfect means to your end. Here you will create a sustainable procedure to attain your excellence. When Batman is driven by instincts he tries to join the league of shadows which brings a momentary satisfaction to him but when batman is driven by intuition he finds perfect means i.e. Lucius fox and he gets much-sophisticated defense equipment. He brings peace to Gotham city when he is driven by intuition.

Right now many small or big firms are driven by instincts because of unpreparedness in this lockdown and oblivious to remote work culture. They might be successful for the short-term but time is a repository of shocks and surprises. Our work cultures may undergo many changes with this disruption, So every firm must find a standard operating procedure because humans never maintained harmony with nature.

We are unaware of one health science that considers the health of all life on earth but our health sciences are just designed human-centric i.e our research and development missed the component of nature and ecology while finding solutions. We may see many human beings vs nature conflicts shortly as per IPCC ( international panel on climate change ) fifth assessment report. So Covid19 is a wake-up call for all the IT firms to find a hybrid work culture which is an intermix of inhouse and remote work.

Your Lucius fox

In general project managers are in the frontline of remote work and they are to be driven with intuition instead of instincts. In general Effective remote model consists of three steps

1.Assigning work:

In the hurry of switching to remote work project managers might look for only “what to assign” to the employees. The most important thing in assigning work is “how to assign work”. In-house work and remote work are not at all the same. In general, when you take in-house work it would be so easy to handle. If you are developing any complex product, brainstorming and group discussions of employees play key roles to achieve product vision. This might not be possible in remote work all of sudden. This requires the following

  • Start giving small projects to your employees which can be handled individually. This makes them adopt remote work gradually.
  • If you are not having small projects or if you are having only sophisticated projects then group discussions in scrum calls won't give results instead it wastes the time of employees because they are still in the adaptation process.
  • Sophisticated projects are managed by teams, so first make them brainstorm individually with proper documentation with an achievable timeline. Here you must give as much as the time they want because it makes them attain clarity.
  • Distribute documents among the team so that they will know each other's perspectives on the project. Then have discussions on respective mediums you use. Brainstorming with documentation will bring out creative thoughts among employees. This procedure will bring out the hidden potential of an introvert employee also.
  • Project managers can increase the productivity of employees by inculcating a sense of belongingness among employees towards the firm and employees must feel cared for by their firm.

Finally, be sure about the medium you are using in assigning work and project managers must document everything that they discuss so that it can be used to track the progress efficiently.

“ It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you ”

2.Progress tracking:

Being Batman is not easy, there will be a joker in batman’s life who always throws him challenges. Likewise, remote work management comes with many bottlenecks like communication, trust issues about employee and employee productivity. Those can be sorted out with the following guidelines. Tracking the progress of the work efficiently can resolve many bottlenecks.

  • When it comes to remote work communication is the key factor, Project managers must make communication easy by using proper mediums so that time saves here. To track progress managers must schedule one on one calls and group calls at a particular time.
  • Remote work must be demarcated with the personal time of the employee so that the employee feels responsible while updating his project report with a detailed explanation which decreases time in tracking the progress of the project.
  • A proper set of graphical trends of a project must be shared with employees daily so that they will use available work hours so efficiently to achieve proper guidelines.
  • Managers must have sound knowledge on repositories like Github, bitbucket so that with minimal communication he can track the progress of projects.
  • Trust on employees is subjective. Managers must not be judgmental, they must believe in employees and that should be replicated in manager and employee communication, this will motivate employees to work and gain trust.
3.Tools:

The main advantage of using tools is to bring clarity to project management. There are many tools available in the market. Project managers must have clarity in choosing tools that are relevant to them. There various types of tools,

Communication tools Project management Documentation Tools
Microsoft teams, hangouts Management: Monday.com, Trello G Suite,
Zoom, Go to meeting Basecamp, Asana, Zoho projects Airtable
Skype, wisp remote collaboration Time tracking: JIbble, Toggl Drop box
Remo conference, slack Timedoctor, HUBstaff
Ryer, Discord Teamwork

All the tools above mentioned are different from each other, the Project Manager must choose which tools are suitable to the team. Choosing a tool is not enough, all the team members must be trained for using the tools and the project manager should have sound knowledge on the tool.

Miscellaneous:
  • Employees must feel comfortable at home while working. Firms must invest in bringing that comfortability at home. Good machines and basic chairs and tables are an added advantage for an employee.
  • Project managers must keep employees in learning mode by giving access to knowledge platforms like Udemy and any other repositories so that it gives value addition to the project.
  • In-house culture bonds employees together and brings solidarity. To develop this bonding in remote teams project managers must allow them to discuss current trending topics.
  • Project managers must take inputs from employees on remote work culture so that these inputs will help us create efficient standard operating procedures.

Pabbu Dinesh Chandra