Alexandra Peligrad, CEO Smartree: We should find the ideal balance between a flexible work schedule or working remotely while keeping the employees engaged
The workplace has played for some time a very important role in developing a modern organizational culture focused on the well-being of the employees. Moreover, the physical environment at work has a direct impact in the performance and productivity of an employee and can influence in both positive and negative ways the employees’ morale, and therefore the enthusiasm, motivation and commitment towards their job.
Outsourcing Today recently spoke with Alexandra Peligrad, CEO Smartree who shared the company’s vision and knowledge on the new workplace culture.
In the current context, reshaping the workplace taking into consideration all implications, should be a must for each business
But as the nature of the work has dramatically changed this year so did the traditional workplace, which at this right moment has to secure the safety of employees. So in the current context, reshaping the workplace taking into consideration all implications, should be a must for each business. Starting with prevention measures against spreading the virus like hygienic measures, ensuring sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places, displaying posters promoting the necessary prevention rules, ensuring physical distance by limiting the number of employees coming to work every day, constant communication and reminders on how to protect ourselves during this period, should all be considered and implemented before recalling employees back to office. But this is not enough.
The focus at the moment should also be on a larger scale not just on reshaping and adapting the physical space. We should all consider the long-term implications of the current situation on the work environment and how to find in the future the ideal balance between a flexible work schedule or working remotely and keeping the employees engaged. And of course tackle the most pressing question: are we ready to embrace WFH system in the future on the long-run? At which scale? Will it be a winning bet or not?
In our field, which is subject to so many legislative changes, exchanging information between teams and being in permanent connection is a vital thing we were always aware of
Communication at all levels was a subject we were particularly focused upon, during work from home period. We have never had before the experience of being physically apart thus we understood from the early beginning the necessity of keeping in touch with each other. Especially since prolonged isolation could also potentially impact on morale and productivity. So we constantly communicated with the employees in a very transparent manner, we had regular online meetings and we encouraged all managers to be in contact with their team even for informal talks. One of our top concerns was to keep the people united and to maintain a positive climate, as much as possible given the current situation so we also initiated a quarantine photo contest and we encouraged everyone to share activities that can be practiced while in lockdown or useful things we’ve learned during this time.
But the biggest challenge we faced was to stay productive while having many more meetings than before and taking decisions or managing things quickly and the same manner we used to do when we were face to face, when communication was effortless and much more easier.
The most positive outcome I see in this moment is that we’ve learned we can perform our duties in times of crises as good and at the same quality as during normal times with more self-discipline and autonomy
Almost all of our colleagues worked exclusively from home during the period of lockdown. The work from home system was used within our organization even before the outbreak of the pandemic, few days per month, so our company was by default prepared for such change from all points of view. Usually, for several years, we have been working entirely in cloud, with all hardware and software infrastructure ready including the communication systems, which has ensured our agility to operate from anywhere and has allowed us to change our way of working remotely without impact in the services provided to our customers.
Starting with middle of June we opened the office but the advice was that only the employees that consider more appropriate to work from the office can come, and with the strict rule that no more than half of the employees can be at a time in the office. Of course we implemented and we respect all the restrictions and prevention measures for keeping a safe environment in our office. The most positive outcome I see in this moment is that we’ve learned we can perform our duties in times of crises as good and at the same quality as during normal times with more self-discipline and autonomy.
Digital skills are becoming a must as a result of daily use of technology
Probably the most developed during this virtual working were the digital skills acquired or improved as a result of daily use of technology. Everybody was forced to adopt very rapidly the communication technology so they could virtually interact with other teams, partners, job applicants, clients or colleagues in the company. All the communication activities moved in the virtual space from one day to the next one, and we were all forced to accelerate the adoption of the appropriate technology. Moreover, these communication tools changed and improved a lot during this crisis, so digital skills are becoming a must.
Compared with what happened at the beginning of the so imposed virtual working, in the last months the employees developed solid time management skills because they realized they need to separate the working time from the family time having the big challenge that both work and family activities run in the same place and space – at home.
No matter the industry, for sure company culture and values and society overall will be strongly affected if the lack of social and face-to-face interactions will continue
Until the medical crisis will end, the workplace will continue to be predominantly in the virtual space. Companies that were already using technology in the day-by-day activities realized that, on a short period of time, the model of virtual working can be applied with the same results as before but with more effort from the managers and leaders regarding the communication with the teams.
The companies with activities that can only be performed onsite like for example production will probably try to automate as many processes as possible with the help of robots and AI as to prevent any possible disruption in the future. As a result, sooner than expected, some employees will probably lose their jobs and will have to go through a carrier change or job reconversion to learn new skills etc.
On the long run, I believe that no matter the industry, for sure company culture and values and society overall will be strongly affected if the lack of social and face-to-face interactions will continue. We will see how these very important components of a company that unite teams will affect the overall results of the companies, because fundamentally people need social interaction at the workplace.