Covid & The SIP of Remote Working

Covid has become the discontinuity needed to propel the companies into adopting remote work culture in an accerlertated mode. What started off as a necessity due to lockdown across countries, became a fundamental shift in how companies operated and viewed productivity.

This made many a top management and functional heads to realise a kernel of truth that showing up to the office was just an input metric. It decoupled the output as the focus of prodcutivity. People who used to ‘look’ busy or ‘play office’ suddenly started being less productive while the truth of the matter was something else altogether.

It was a SIP or Strategic Inflection Point, as Andy Grove would have put it. Companies had two choices – adopt or fade out into irrelevancy. Great CEOs don’t let a great crisis go to waste, they quickly get a grip on changing circumstances and start leveraging it to their advantage.

Here is a tweet storm I did during first week of WFH :

After last few days of remote working as part of corona virus precaution, here are some of my thoughts on same #remotework #coronavirusindia #startups

Remote work can unlock lot of untapped potential of productivity from within an org although it is a serious mutation on the cultural DNA. Some orgs who are agile will adapt to the new paradigm and empower their employees to do the best work of their lives in this new setup

The impact of this shift in working style will affect different functions differently. Most affected would be functions where work is repeat, process-oriented with requirement of constant supervision. Eg Operations, supply chain, treasury , admin etc

Other functions which will get adversely impacted would be compliance since they require significant number of signatures, paper coordinations, runner supervision, reg reporting.

Talent acquisition will fail to meet it’s hiring targets as potential candidates will cancel in person interviews and generally trend would be to not look out while this corona virus uncertainty subsides.

Generally HR function would scramble to tweak or reinvent policies for short term. Expect lot of pulse check feedback forms, lot of links sharing in slack channels.

Slack’s inbuilt communication tools are decent enough for small groups to collaborate and screen share. But hangouts has proven to be better than zoom for us. Daily standups with large number of people can be conducted effortlessly and imo much more productively with hangouts.

I have observed, employees who have strong command over written language have been infused with new rigour and have shown remarkable improvement in productivity. Emails have become much are nuanced and crisper.

Shift of communication from sync has shifted to near real time async. This requires being plugged into notifications for a longer stretch of time which after 6-7 hours causes notification fatigue.

Ad hoc meetings are getting replaced by carefully scheduled remote meetings, so expect google calendar to take permanent place as an all time opened tab.Another quick hack to increase communication is to not restrict ourselves to just one central com channel and let it spill over

..to other non central channels. Analogy is that you don’t want to have all your meetings in one meeting room, you want change of scenery and setting. So I have created whatsapp channels for different sub teams to complement the official channels. Tonality of those ..

..channels vary from official quick call outs to water cooler banter.Product teams have started consolidating lot of prds, documentations and flow diagrams into single opinioniated workflow based single source of truths ( More of like of http://Aha.io and less of drive)

Decision making and consensus is getting documented in order to keep large teams on same page. Design reviews have become super productive imo over Slack video calls with screen sharing. Critique and feedback points are getting more nuanced and resulting in tighter feedback loops

Tech teams are doing good as well, I m seeing spike in productivity. Nothing changes for them in terms of workflows, commits have increased in numbers, bugs are getting squashed faster, code reviews are ‘actually’ happening.

People-first program managers are under performing as compared to documentation-first program managers. Schedules will get delayed until the right remote cadence is established.

Strategy will have to shift to anticipating the macro connected externalities and charting a course which is proven and less riskier and short term focussed. Companies who are well capitalised will whether the storm and emerge stronger.

But net net, I think this could be the trigger of new inflection point in how works get done, changing the very definition of what it means to be productive and how do businesses operate. But as Churchill said, never let a great crisis go to waste.

After last few days of remote working as part of corona virus precaution, here are some of my thoughts on same #remotework #coronavirusindia #startups

Remote work can unlock lot of untapped potential of productivity from within an org although it is a serious mutation on the cultural DNA. Some orgs who are agile will adapt to the new paradigm and empower their employees to do the best work of their lives in this new setup

The impact of this shift in working style will affect different functions differently. Most affected would be functions where work is repeat, process-oriented with requirement of constant supervision. Eg Operations, supply chain, treasury , admin etc

Other functions which will get adversely impacted would be compliance since they require significant number of signatures, paper coordinations, runner supervision, reg reporting.

Talent acquisition will fail to meet it’s hiring targets as potential candidates will cancel in person interviews and generally trend would be to not look out while this corona virus uncertainty subsides.

Generally HR function would scramble to tweak or reinvent policies for short term. Expect lot of pulse check feedback forms, lot of links sharing in slack channels.

Slack’s inbuilt communication tools are decent enough for small groups to collaborate and screen share. But hangouts has proven to be better than zoom for us. Daily standups with large number of people can be conducted effortlessly and imo much more productively with hangouts.

I have observed, employees who have strong command over written language have been infused with new rigour and have shown remarkable improvement in productivity. Emails have become much are nuanced and crisper.

Shift of communication from sync has shifted to near real time async. This requires being plugged into notifications for a longer stretch of time which after 6-7 hours causes notification fatigue.

Ad hoc meetings are getting replaced by carefully scheduled remote meetings, so expect google calendar to take permanent place as an all time opened tab.Another quick hack to increase communication is to not restrict ourselves to just one central com channel and let it spill over

..to other non central channels. Analogy is that you don’t want to have all your meetings in one meeting room, you want change of scenery and setting. So I have created whatsapp channels for different sub teams to complement the official channels. Tonality of those ..

..channels vary from official quick call outs to water cooler banter.Product teams have started consolidating lot of prds, documentations and flow diagrams into single opinioniated workflow based single source of truths ( More of like of http://Aha.io and less of drive)

Decision making and consensus is getting documented in order to keep large teams on same page. Design reviews have become super productive imo over Slack video calls with screen sharing. Critique and feedback points are getting more nuanced and resulting in tighter feedback loops

Tech teams are doing good as well, I m seeing spike in productivity. Nothing changes for them in terms of workflows, commits have increased in numbers, bugs are getting squashed faster, code reviews are ‘actually’ happening.

People-first program managers are under performing as compared to documentation-first program managers. Schedules will get delayed until the right remote cadence is established.

Strategy will have to shift to anticipating the macro connected externalities and charting a course which is proven and less riskier and short term focussed. Companies who are well capitalised will whether the storm and emerge stronger.

But net net, I think this could be the trigger of new inflection point in how works get done, changing the very definition of what it means to be productive and how do businesses operate. But as Churchill said, never let a great crisis go to waste.

After last few days of remote working as part of corona virus precaution, here are some of my thoughts on same #remotework #coronavirusindia #startups

Remote work can unlock lot of untapped potential of productivity from within an org although it is a serious mutation on the cultural DNA. Some orgs who are agile will adapt to the new paradigm and empower their employees to do the best work of their lives in this new setup

The impact of this shift in working style will affect different functions differently. Most affected would be functions where work is repeat, process-oriented with requirement of constant supervision. Eg Operations, supply chain, treasury , admin etc

Other functions which will get adversely impacted would be compliance since they require significant number of signatures, paper coordinations, runner supervision, reg reporting.

Talent acquisition will fail to meet it’s hiring targets as potential candidates will cancel in person interviews and generally trend would be to not look out while this corona virus uncertainty subsides.

Generally HR function would scramble to tweak or reinvent policies for short term. Expect lot of pulse check feedback forms, lot of links sharing in slack channels.

Slack’s inbuilt communication tools are decent enough for small groups to collaborate and screen share. But hangouts has proven to be better than zoom for us. Daily standups with large number of people can be conducted effortlessly and imo much more productively with hangouts.

I have observed, employees who have strong command over written language have been infused with new rigour and have shown remarkable improvement in productivity. Emails have become much are nuanced and crisper.

Shift of communication from sync has shifted to near real time async. This requires being plugged into notifications for a longer stretch of time which after 6-7 hours causes notification fatigue.

Ad hoc meetings are getting replaced by carefully scheduled remote meetings, so expect google calendar to take permanent place as an all time opened tab.Another quick hack to increase communication is to not restrict ourselves to just one central com channel and let it spill over

..to other non central channels. Analogy is that you don’t want to have all your meetings in one meeting room, you want change of scenery and setting. So I have created whatsapp channels for different sub teams to complement the official channels. Tonality of those ..

..channels vary from official quick call outs to water cooler banter.Product teams have started consolidating lot of prds, documentations and flow diagrams into single opinioniated workflow based single source of truths ( More of like of http://Aha.io and less of drive)

Decision making and consensus is getting documented in order to keep large teams on same page. Design reviews have become super productive imo over Slack video calls with screen sharing. Critique and feedback points are getting more nuanced and resulting in tighter feedback loops

Tech teams are doing good as well, I m seeing spike in productivity. Nothing changes for them in terms of workflows, commits have increased in numbers, bugs are getting squashed faster, code reviews are ‘actually’ happening.

People-first program managers are under performing as compared to documentation-first program managers. Schedules will get delayed until the right remote cadence is established.

Strategy will have to shift to anticipating the macro connected externalities and charting a course which is proven and less riskier and short term focussed. Companies who are well capitalised will whether the storm and emerge stronger.

But net net, I think this could be the trigger of new inflection point in how works get done, changing the very definition of what it means to be productive and how do businesses operate. But as Churchill said, never let a great crisis go to waste.

Originally tweeted by IshaanBhola (@ishaanbhola) on March 18, 2020.

Action items which companies did to embrace Remote work more or less included :

  • Invest in Tooling
  • Asking Functional leaders to setup OKRs for their teams
  • Get Documentation in place or document the decisions
  • Setup functional all hands and 1:1s
  • Build remote first engagements for employees

In the end it’s not the role of only HR function to drive these changes, everybody in the org have to take it upon themselves to make sure the company successfully transitions into the new world order trigger by microscopic invisible virus.

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