A virtual workplace may not require face-to-face video conferencing all the time but still requires suitable clothing to be worn.
--BY SANJU ADHIKARI
Work is a key component of human life. For centuries, humans have been both the means and end of all financial activities. We have been cultured and conditioned to go to the office every day towork. Being social beings, we wish to get inside the organisation where people are working together for one vision. We feel focused, dedicated and productive to work in a team of like-minded people in dynamic situations. The traditional model operates in a vertical integration with full time employees working eight to nine hours daily.
‘Digital work platform’ and ‘Work from home’ are new concepts in Nepal’s work life culture. Only a few multinational companies, development sectors and Information sectors have incorporated such provisions of ‘work from home’ in their HR bylaws. Such provisions are also exercised in specific cases and are limited for only a few days a month. Today, things like technological advancement, internet availability and exponential computing power are changing the way human capital functions.The ability to work from anywhere and stay connected through the internet has enabled us to communicate, coordinate and perform. Presently, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to stay home and maintain social distancing. So virtual functioning has become essential for any organisation. The following are a few points for virtual work platforms to operate seamlessly.
1.Technology and Security
Technology helps an organisation to tie a dispersed team in a single thread logistically and supports everyone to perform towards defined goals. Adequate computing systems, genuine operating systems, cyber security measures and trained mindset are crucial. Microsoft provides free services on Skype for their customers. Google also provides various products like google docs, google meet, google handouts, google drive etc. Any kind of meeting or conference can be done virtually with high quality features of sharing screen, presentations, discussions, recording etc. IT departmentsshould facilitate technical support, guidance and data security management. The system should be designed for documents flow, meeting arrangements and digital signatories etc. Virtual platforms are created and managed so as to engage everyone digitally.
2. Time Management
Mandatory situation of ‘work from home’ affectswork-life dynamics. Blending both personal and professional roles efficiently needs proper arrangements, time management and deliverability. Since the conversion to a digital work life initiates a complete new culture of working, it is necessary to adapt oneself in transition. Human Resourcescan prepare a standard operating system for timesheet management, flexibility compass and performance measurement. Having a system of recording log in and log out times is important but output is something that matters the most. Since there will be family, kids and other stuff around, there can be some deviation.
Organisations must help every department to set goals, timelines and individual’s key responsibility areas. Performance indicators cannot be idiosyncratic only; they should be well framed in the performance matrix. Working from home may involve distractions but individuals can fill the gaps and deliver his/her results.Therefore, productivity must be the focus rather than the hours spent on screen.
4. Digital Etiquette
A virtual work place may not require face-to-face video conferencing all the time but still requires suitable clothing to be worn.It is always recommended to maintain a disciplined routine, dedicated workstation at home, stable internet connections anda tracker of live assignments. Sending calendar requests in advance is a must for confirming and holding effective meeting sessions. Rather than calling out of the blue, one should make enquiries about time availability and for discussions. One must allow for casual talk and some practical discomfort during work sessions. Minor hurdles or moments of ignorance have to be tolerated by organisations. Time management, email-writing etiquette, tentativeperiod to respond to notifications etc should also be considered for operations to move smoothly.
5. Human Resource Development
The role of Human Resources is crucial in managing this virtual platform. Ensuring logistic facilities, defining data security protocols, getting everyone engaged and aligned is extremely complex. If virtual platform hours cannot be utilised at the optimum for present work requirements, then the management needs to define something out of the box. Some backlogs can be cleared, internal trainings can be conducted, policies can be designed, research can be initiated and reading sessions can be arranged to boost overall skills and personality. There will be some level of support staff who cannot work virtually so special planning should be designed for them. Some trainings can be provided to help their skills. Different creative work like data collection, scenario observation, story collection etc can be done from their side to access root level scenarios. An organisation also has to be lenient enough to let them focus on their personal life. A person with a comfortable family life will become more confident and healthy to perform better in the future. In addition,the management should invest in good technology, introduce planners, define core business hours, provide professional communication tools and encourage employees to be positive. Also, there should not be an environment where employees feel unable to disengage from work, or possibly feel tracked by the company. The problem of burnout and the feeling of being chained to mobile phones, email or other digital formats may cause work related frustrations.
6. Reporting and Documentation
The growth of the digital workplace raises concerns about data security, regulatory compliance, compensation for device usage, and internal governance. Bureaucratic organisations may require more time to adopt new technologies and the policies around them due to various approval process and red tape. The evolving regulatory environment of many industries may also challenge the adoption and incorporation of digital practices into the workplace. Record keeping, email tracking, meetings management, decisions notes and activities reporting are crucial. An organisation has to resume the physical filing of all transactions, decisions, reports, external correspondence and overall operations for various reasons. Therefore, every department should plan for proper data management, filing and record keeping.
Digital technology can be applied in every part of an organisation’s value chain. Moreover, it is not disruptive at all. Not only in specific emergencies, a collaborative digital work culture offers tremendous benefits for all kinds of organisations. Having team members from any corner of the globe will be fruitful for various reasons. Digital work style breaks maximum barriers and empowers the workplace. Being open to innovation can redefine management theory and deliver acceleration. So, Say Yes to Virtual Work Life and Enjoy Performance!!
Adhikari is a FCA by profession and Founder of Digital Lifestyles, a startup company.