Chief People Officer's Interview with PEOPLE MATTERS

The push towards remote work has radically transformed the workplace. It has changed conventional HR operations – right from recruitment and learning to performance and productivity, In a conversation with People Matters Sandip Mallik, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Home Credit India spoke about the challenges and opportunity areas that companies need to take advantage of and the needs for the right digital infrastructure.

1. What are some of the biggest challenges with respect to remote work? And how are you adjusting to this style of working?

As an organization we practised work from home for some time now, but this one was different when everyone was working from home with no face to face human interaction for days together. We found that the employees are more productive when they work outside of the conventional office, but it still comes with its challenges. 

The primary challenge for us today is to help our employees deal with polarity. Example, from working largely from office to having to operate from the confined walls of home, no coffee breaks chat, or a stress busting game of table tennis. While we have all tech tools in place, the challenge is coping with the psychological demands of confinement. This is one problem that Maslow or Skinner never envisaged so there is no model or formula to follow. We are learning quickly.  We are continuously training our employees to upskill them, providing wellness sessions for wellbeing and more.

2. What are the innovations in digital technologies that you’re employing to adapt to the new normal?

Around the world, the shift of working from office to working from remote locations has demonstrated digital advancement is an imperative need for businesses to function successfully. 

Digital savviness is the single biggest enabler for our success. COVID-19   proved it further with the shift of working from office to working from remote locations. With a highly distributed workforce it was imperative to invest in multiuse simple smartphone apps that help us manage employee lifecycle, to train everyone consistently and on demand. We were well prepared when COVID-19 happened. With the migration to Office 365 suite just before the pandemic hit us, we have all communication tools like MS Teams, email and Yammer to keep our 14,000 strong workforce connected & engaged. It was very important that we are available for our customers during this uncertain time as they needed a lot of handholding. Our digital capability helped us to quickly adapt to the situation and be able to serve our customers with much compassion and care.

3. How are you collaborating with all your business leaders including the CIOs/CTOs to make sure you have right digital infrastructure post COVID19?

Our digital infrastructure capabilities are being focussed on two most important aspects of our business – digital workplace resources for our employees and digital technologies to serve our customers with the world class experience and support during these demanding times. We have a digital culture and the requisite infrastructure. It was the scaling of this infrastructure that was never tested. With robust cloud technologies we are confident that there is limited risk. The only impediment today is creaky mobile networks. With wider 4G spread this issue will get resolved over time.

4. How do you see the future of remote work and how will technologies evolve to make flexible work easier for employees and employers?

Remote working is here to stay and it’s changing how the global workspace operates. Coshare start-ups had anticipated a situation wherein there would be a shift from permanent offices to a more flexible system. Covid-19 has made the viability of these proposition & business model a reality. While managing a remote workforce might be daunting, but with the right technology and happy workforce, it can be a seamless process. With cloud-based tech tools I see a combination of work from home & co-shares is the next normal. We plan to have more frequent open houses for our employees to reconnect with their colleagues, back to attending face to face meetings (of course with precautions) and much more to revitalize the workplace.

5. What kind of technology investments are the most necessary to thrive in the next normal?

We treat technology as an enabler provide best in class work tools for our employees while a simple and easy life for our customers. From our employee standpoint a smartphone-enabled app eco system is what we are aiming for. 

We have multiple app-based solutions to make it convenient for employees for instance Darwin Box to manage lifecycle, Stratbeans for eLearning/upskilling, Office 365 suite for communication to connect with colleagues across the globe. For business functioning and to enrich the lives of our customers we have multiple sales processes, underwriting and, collections. It is Home Credit’s culture & people practices that is the secret sauce to thrive in the next normal. 

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