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How to manage the remote workforce during this COVID-19 outbreak

Ms. Mary Priya is currently a Senior HR Manager at Aspire systems. She has worked in the HR field for over 20 years. She has an in-depth knowledge of Human Resources including talent engagement strategy, total rewards, performance management, employee wellness and safety, and employee training.  

About Aspire Systems 

Aspire Systems is a 3000+ global technology services organization serving as a trusted technology partner for the customers. They work with some of the world’s most innovative enterprises and independent software vendors, helping them leverage technology and outsourcing in their specific areas of expertise. Their services include Product Engineering, Enterprise Solutions, Independent Testing Services, and IT Infrastructure Support services.  

Aspire Systems, being a people-centric organization, has always given greater importance to talent management and hence, has automated its performance management system using Synergita, best-in-class performance management software. The modernization of the process has increased the engagement level of Aspirians along with their productivity. Learn more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rSEMQViwM0 


Welcome to Synergita’s TalentCast. I am Ragapriya and I am the host for today’s podcast. Covid-19 is an unprecedented situation that has forced the whole world into deep sorrow and fear. Before beginning, I would like to say a few things to everyone out there.Please stay at home. Follow the local public health guidelines. Maintain social distancing. And dko not panic, Be Prepared. 

This is a special episode done to discuss how to manage the remote workforce during this Corona pandemic. 

And I’m here with Ms Mary Priya, Senior HR Manager at Aspire Systems and an expert in managing gig and remote workforce.  

Hello, Mary. 

Mary: Hi, Ragapriya. Yes, it is definitely an unfortunate situation.  

Question: Coronavirus has created grave social and economic repercussions. How huge is its impact on the HR department in organizations, especially in the IT-sphere? 

Mary: yes, definitely the impact is huge. Especially with respect to all the functional teams, HRs are being very specific. Being in HR, it is very important that we balance well between the management and the employees along with what was happening around in society. While the people around the world think it is easy for the IT-sphere to just like that give work from home, it is actually very difficult. We have security restrictions compliance. So, keeping all that in mind, making arrangements for work from home without a halt in the continuity of the business is definitely a big challenge.

Question: Organizations, so to protect their employees, have given work from home. And I know it is a very difficult task as you say. How many percentages of your employees are WFH? Did you have a defined WFH policy before?

Mary: Aspire as an organization was always flexible with work from home options, especially when employees were in any personal emergency. During this current situation, what we did was we worked out in slots. Initially, we had 20% of people working from home, and then we moved it to 40%. Then, finally, we had the final 40% to connect from home. Now, we can proudly say that the entire organization is connecting from home and ensuring that there are no problems with any of the deliverables.

Question: What are the challenges you encountered and the solutions you found to overcome them? 

Mary: It was really tough. Definitely, it was a very tough situation, mainly with arranging machines along with VPN for all employees in a very short notice. There was a huge set of employees who did not have a proper set up at home, just connect directly from home, mostly the juniors. So, what we had to do is we had to make arrangements to move their own machines to their residents, and then we had to help them on the network connectivity and then give them VPN. It was a real emergency situation, where everybody was running here and there to get things done. But definitely, we owe a great salute to the network and system admin team of aspire for getting all things in place all in the very short notice of time.

Question: That has been a really tough situation for you. Organizations with strict policies often say that they are not able to maintain productivity when their employees are working from home or from remote areas. In companies with flexible work policies, employees say that they often tend to overwork when they are at home. What are the reasons for these differences in opinions?  

Mary: Definitely. I work in a very flexible company, so we tend to concentrate more and work more when we connect at our home. The reason is, generally, as human beings, we become over-committed when we know someone trusts us and that is a basic reason. Moreover, from an organization as aspire, we have a lot of freedom of work that is given to us by the organization. They completely trust the employees who are working and they give their own space to come up with the deliverables that are required. So actually, these are the reasons why we work more when we connect from home. 

Question: How do you manage and engage the remote workforce at your organization, Mary. Please share your strategy. How do you rate your success in managing and engaging your workforce on a scale from 1 to 10, given 1 is the least and 10 the topmost?  

Mary: See if you take a current situation, I would rate this between 7 and 9, because our managers are mostly homegrown and they are closely connected to their team members. They have a nice way of ensuring deliverables are delivered on time to the customers. What we have done is we have regular team meetings even in office and also in this remote situation, we continue those meetings on a daily note and wherever we see that people are having personal challenges because of the current situation, they are immediately addressed with some alternative team member who is always forwardly coming to help us in such a situation. So as long as we have responsible employers, I don’t think so we have any issues here. Remote working from our organization is really going smooth.

Question: What is the Hr’s reaction across the industry with this new development? How equipped they are to handle this sudden disruption? Do you have tips to share with others who face hardships in managing or engaging their remote workforce? 

Mary: This is more a survival of the situation and now this can be the best option to get work out of the team with whatever is available. There are some challenges still when we work on a remote… when you work in a remote mode, but since this has become a universal situation, there is an acceptance from everyone both internal and external. So, whenever there is any issue or something that has to be delivered, there are a few instances, but it’s universally accepted in today’s situation. With regards to tips when you give a remote working, it is more the trust you have. You need to have a very organized way of working. You need to have good connectivity with the team, especially when you’re working on a remote mode. You need to have things planned and regular schedules for all deliverables. It is very important.

Question: Do you think that it is time for companies to revise their policies? And how much flexibility should they give to their employees? 

Mary: Not at all, not at all… not exactly. Most of the IT companies are flexible, and it is enough if they understand such odd situations and come out with such options, which they have given to all employees worldwide. When the situation is normal and very friendly, I think a normal work plan should be fine. There are lots of companies like ours who give flexible working timings, flexible work from home options, and they completely trust the work environment that is going around. So, I think that should be enough. There isn’t any huge necessity to change the policies in most of the organizations. 

Ragapriya: Thank you very much, Mary, for your valuable insights. It was a pleasure chatting with you.  

Mary: Thank you. Same here. 

Ragapriya: Thank you all for hearing us. I hope this episode helps you in your further planning. Synergita will be doing more podcasts on how to fight this pandemic situation together. Stay-tuned.  

Stay safe. 

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