Remote Work - It is not only about the Tech

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Remote Work - It is not only about the Tech

Remote work is not just about your information systems or any particular aspect of your business. It covers a much large scope so much so that it becomes a company culture for everyone to embrace it through everything they do.

Where did your digitalization project land?

When Your boss told you two years ago: we need to digitalize our company. What was your first reaction? Two years later, you have led some initiatives, but where did you land so far? How much of the company policy is forced upon its people and led nowhere?

The Evolution of Workspace

Looking back into history, the Industrial Revolution which began in Great Britain in 1700s and early 1800s revolutionized the scattered, un-organized way of family owned productions and mom & pop businesses, It quickly spread throughout the world and have since re-written the concept of Work Space Fast forward 200 hundred years later, we now rely heavily on the internet and smart devices to help with managing a large majority of our administrative work. Technically speaking, if properly set up, a company should fully enjoy the benefits they get from this internet era.

The Tipping Point

When the COVID-19 crisis fell crumbling down on China, it was the first and quickest country to react. Around 200 million people were working remotely by the end of the CNY holiday according to Chinanews.com. Alibaba, Ping An and Google, Ford and Amazon, companies around the world are announcing their staff can choose to work from home as long as they like due to the severity of the unprecedented pandemic. This pandemic suddenly opens up our eyes to the future world where digitalization is the central neural system of every operation, forcing both organizations and individuals further up the adoption curve almost overnight.

Does it actually work?

So, does it actually work? We hear all the reasons (excuses) our staff come up with regarding budget, lead time, set up, client and even staff feedback that can be potential blocks to success.

Align Internal Priorities

But it’s actually not that complicated. Every crisis demands boldness in decision-making and action-taking. Like any good strategy decision, you need to align your internal priorities first. Without employees, a company simply fails to operate. So always put employees safety first. Then align your core mission as a company in whole. What is our daily critical mission? Clocking the hours of our employees vs. delivering high quality projects in time? What’s the immediate financial impact on our clients, our company and our staff? How much immediate or long-term support would we need from various channels? (client support, employee support, government, local communities).

Managing Staff Remotely

Everyone has a different way/pace at adjusting to new environment or habits, which is why managing your staff remotely is probably one of the most difficult element hence potential block to remote working. As a leader, your empathy should step in to inspire. Sharing best practices, success stories, challenges, and chats can help greatly in creating human connection so that your employees feel more comfortable about the new norm - that they are contributing to the same mission even when they are physically remote. For managers, the biggest challenge is to lead their team with absolute clarity. Which is why the communication quality and frequency should be up a level to ensure absolute clarity. At System in Motion, our management team is texting the entire company individually with regular updates because it’s a more humane way of communication than via the official channels. E-commerce giant Alibaba increases the frequency of its one-to-one communications with employees to a weekly basis. A similar approach is just as important to provide valuable stability and assurance when dealing with clients in times of crisis. Trip.com, has long enabled its staff to work from home, which paid off in the recent crisis as it was able to deliver a high quality service during widespread travel disruptions.
An international bank asked their relationship managers to communicate with their clients via WeChat or video conferences to understand their problems to help them weather the crisis. To do so effectively at scale, the managers are supported through dedicated digital channels, online articles, scripts and internal trainings for communicating with clients.

Choosing the Right Tools

Now that your strategy is on the right track, you have a team fearless and ready to take on new challenges, what tools do you need to set it up right? Effective remote working starts with the foundation - a fast, stable, and secure internet connection. Expanding VPN access and bandwidth is also one of the initiatives many corporates took. Taking advantage of the power of technology. Finding the right channels for each daily tasks. You can even frequently switch or combine channels if necessary. Calls, video conferences, chats, notes, emails, content creation, document sharing, tasks management, surveys, process management, and other tasks that might be specific to your industry will need special digitalized channels to support for remote working. Many multinational firms accelerated roll-out of productivity solutions they were already using elsewhere, like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. The monthly active users of DingTalk jumped by 66 percent to more than 125 million as COVID-19 spread One of the largest pharmaceutical companies activated their WeChat work program that was only 60% completed as full project to entertain the needs of remote hospital visits by sales staff. A single, digitally accessible source of information—be it a performance dashboard, sprint backlog, or business plan—keeps everybody aligned. Which is why one big concern you should have is the shadow IT systems. How many of those systems are set up by non-IT departments, and never got accessed and approved by your CTO? The harm they bring to the consistency and efficiency of the overall data structure only grows by time. Only way remote work works is to have the powerful support backed by technology that is built in a lean and smart way which is approved by your CTO.

Conclusion

  • Remote work is an opportunity
  • The digital workplace is not necessarily a place
  • China is the best lab for fast, efficient digitalization
  • Effective is better than exhaustive
  • The best time for digitalization was before COVID-19
  • The second-best time is now

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Remote Work - It is not only about the Tech

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