Lessons Learned From COVID-19: Necessary Changes That Make Workplaces More People-Centric
During the pandemic, remote working exploded in a way that no one could have anticipated.
A term that didn’t hold much emphasis in the pre-pandemic world created quite a stir, resulting in 33.7% of the workforce wanting to work remotely even post Covid.
GoodFirms Leaders Roundtable is a series of podcast discussions that the company intends to have with the experts and market leaders across the globe to support the startups with the right insights.
For this podcast series, we bring to you a discussion with Nital Shah, chief operating officer of Uplers. He has been an IT expert for more than 12 years now. He has profound abilities in developing strategic planning for new projects and driving multi-channel ROI through analytics and compelling strategies.
Talking about the company, Uplers has been breaking boundaries and removing limitations by providing companies all over the globe with the best remote talent to meet their hiring needs.
This Podcast with Nital Shah focuses on the following key areas:
- How Uplers prepared for the sudden onset of remote working
- Learnings after two years of working from home
- Growing dependency on Cloud-based technologies and concerns regarding it
- How team-building activities helped bridge the gap of loneliness while WFH
Through this free podcast session, you will:
- Know that the concept of remote working is beneficial for both management and their employees
- How companies encourage employees to pick up new skills and accelerate their career
- Hacks that make employees stay connected and co-ordinate better, even while working remotely
- Make necessary changes in the hiring process to make onboarding seamless and meaningful
When the pandemic first struck, organizations had very little time to adjust their operations and prepare their employees for alternate work culture. What measures did firms, specifically Uplers, take to adapt to the situation and achieve better results?
March 2020 was the most uncertain time we saw as a nation for businesses across the country. Some industries got affected heavily such as travel, hospitality, and more. The Digital Marketing industry and our business were affected too and revenue went down by 30% in a month. But we were confident that nothing is constant in life, so this will get better and we only can make it better.
So like many other businesses across the nation: We went remote overnight and, for Uplers, the first and foremost priority was to ensure our team is safe and had a stable working environment around them.
We did a significant technological investment since a majority of the team was working on desktops while operating from office premises. We purchased 350+ laptops and provided our employees with internet allowance packages which provided stable internet connectivity from their respective homes.
During the crisis, there was various news around about people getting layoffs, pay cuts, or delays in salaries but we assured our employees that they would face no such scenarios from our end.
We at Uplers also established frequent communication channels with our team as well as our clients. During the pandemic, 2000+ Email Templates, 150+ websites, and multi-million dollars of advertising were spent for our clients and that ensured our support for our clients to stay intact.
Also, since a lot of office furniture was lying unused on our office premises and when we realized that work-from-home will prevail longer than we thought, we even asked our employees to grab those office chairs and desks and use them for their convenience.
I truly believe that it was a roller coaster ride but I’m proud of the team we have at Uplers and taking the right decisions at the right time helped us bounce back during those difficult times.
Companies used to believe that offering flexible work schedules or remote working would reduce the amount of work employees completed, but what have companies learned about remote working after two years of pandemic and working from home?
Necessity is the mother of invention - Covid has forced us all to think about ways to make remote working successful. Working from the office and working from anywhere are very different and require different treatment.
At Uplers, we always believe in giving freedom and flexibility to leverage work from anywhere and encourage our team to take utmost benefit from it.
Ever since we included the remote working model, we have defined KPIs for every role at Uplers. And I truly believe that as long as the KPIs are talking out loud about the performance of our team members, we need not go around and fuss much about when and how they are working.
This helps our employees have that freedom and mind space to achieve a striking work-life balance. We even have received feedback from our team that such a structure helps them to think out of the box and pursue their hobbies and passions while balancing their work.
From the company’s viewpoint, remote working has opened up a whole new talent pool for Uplers. Prior to the concept of working from anywhere, we had a lot of geographical restrictions when it came to hiring. Now, there is no location barrier which has been helping us immensely to recruit faster and better talent.
Post pandemic, with work from home more common than ever, is the demand for cloud-based tech on the rise? How can companies prepare themselves to deal with such situations in the future?
Many companies, whether IT-based or not, have realized the growing dependency on cloud-based technology and are making a lot of changes from the infrastructural standpoint.
Bigger companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc. are enhancing their product and investing heavily in a cloud-based infrastructure.
In the last couple of years, we have taken steps towards endpoint security, implemented one login virtual desktop with Citrix, used Time Doctor software for time logging, and ran a bunch of security audits by various third parties. This helped us find loopholes in our security systems and build a robust system as we work with a lot of international clients and their data cannot be compromised at any cost.
Adopting new technologies was necessary for new working models. How did you encourage employees to pick up new skills to help with the transition?
Being part of an immensely competitive industry, continuous learning, and staying ahead of the curve are key organizational drivers. Remote working brought a lot of changes in the traditional working ways, and to keep our team members updated, we conducted a lot of training and seminars.
I take pride in saying that the decision to implement work from anywhere permanently at Uplers was taken just four months after the nationwide lockdown announcement in March 2020. Witnessing the benefits of remote working, we were pretty clear that this is our future and thus started preparing for it.
Everyone was unfamiliar with the idea of working from home, so we created a Remote Readiness training module that covered how to collaborate while working remotely, how to communicate effectively over calls and virtual meetings, and the significance of documentation when managing projects in a digital environment.
With teams working remotely, employee engagement & team building can be a major challenge, how did you overcome this? Did online community activities help employees get rid of their loneliness?
To keep the spirits and enthusiasm high amidst these trying times, we organized weekly & monthly fun activities and quarterly events which helped us motivate our people. We also run several contests monthly to keep the fun quotient high.
Recognizing the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on people's mental health, Uplers partnered with the mental health wellness community YourDOST to support our employees' wellbeing and help them better manage their emotions in absolute anonymity.
There were stories based on different hobbies, passions, and life lessons. The 14 editions of this magazine made sure that coworkers connected on both a personal and professional level.
This type of employee engagement activity is extremely important because as our team grows, there are an increasing number of people who haven't met each other. These activities will help these people collaborate better, which will improve the workplace environment.
What has changed in the onboarding practices to make it more meaningful and welcoming for new employees?
The entire concept of hiring people only after a face-to-face interview has been left shaken after the pandemic. Today, while we have shattered boundaries by hiring from all across India we have made changes in our hiring process to make onboarding faster and easier.
We have a comprehensive Onboarding process of 7 Days where each individual goes through various sessions such as:
- The brief from HR
- The brief from the IT Security team
- The brief from the Legal & Compliance team
- Series of learning sessions to be effective in Remote
- Introduction with team members & the department heads
- Introduction with the Leadership team (including myself and Jaymin)
Like many companies, we have revamped our Onboarding Kit for all new members who are joining Uplers remotely. Our kit is a remote-friendly professional kit with the intent to provide everything a person needs to kick start their journey with us.
Overall, onboarding sets the stage for a new journey in an entirely new organization – so it is a very essential process in a remote environment.
What will the future of work look like, and how can companies around the world prepare for any unforeseen circumstances?
Working from home became a necessary stopgap measure to keep companies running amid the Covid crisis, but it has evolved into a new business paradigm.
The future holds greater reliance on remote work, including more virtual meetings and less travel. Higher use of e-commerce, virtual transactions, and greater adoption of automation is already becoming some of the key norms of every other industry.
The pandemic has taught us a very important lesson to be adaptive and I believe that, if a company wants to survive in this world full of uncertainty, they need to develop an ability to sustain and confront challenges and convert them into opportunities.
In the book “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek, the author, says, "hiring for the right attitude is critical for businesses because skills can be trained in the future." Be it top IT service companies or startups, they must empower their employees with the best resources and show trust in them. Doing this will not only help employees feel more satisfied with their work but also help companies thrive in this competitive market.
About GoodFirms Leaders Roundtable
Leaders Roundtable is a campaign undertaken to discuss the pain points of budding entrepreneurs. In this campaign, we talk with representatives of successful IT companies and take their views regarding topics in technology, business strategies, and more.
To get your company enrolled in our campaign, please drop a mail at [email protected]
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