kPoint uses time at the workplace to socialize.
With two vaccines on the horizon for the general public and Covid infections at an all-time low, most folks are looking forward to doing things like they did before the pandemic exploded.
However, employees at kPoint Technologies will be working from home (WFH) as the default. MD Shridhar Shukla says “We have decided to not go back to pre-covid days. WFH was forced upon us and everyone’s determination turned it to our advantage. Going back would mean we throw that away. kPointers love it and everyone is better off. Losing those benefits did not make sense.”
kPoint Technologies started WFH before it became a mandate from the Government in early 2020. There were the expected network bandwidth and power outage issues for those working from rural parts. Everyone needed time to manage home schedules and how to face the challenges of WFH. It gave our engineers a unique opportunity to work on aspects of kPoint (Enterprise Video Management platform) that had assumed new meaning.
“The biggest fear and anxiety was around day-to-day productivity and management.”
kPoint management had to provide technical support to make sure staff and engineers had a sound infrastructure to work from home. That was an easy problem to solve.
The biggest fear and anxiety was around day-to-day productivity and management. Engineers who had to only walk a few steps to ask a question and get help in the office now had to pick up the phone or make a request not knowing if the other party was available. Online meetings and phone calls now replaced face-to-face interactions. The technical overhead of discussions and interactions took some getting used to, delays, interruptions, connectivity problems now had to be factored in.
The impact on productivity was understood after an organizational steady-state of about six months. Late into 2020, by about September, the management had a good handle of what was working and what was not. The news was good. Software development milestones weren’t slipping and quality had not suffered.
“The impact on productivity was understood after an organizational steady-state of about six months.”
Everyone was concerned about more human problems due to social distancing. Would employee morale drop? Would they miss their team? Employees sure did miss working with their colleagues. But it was not as bad as expected. What could be the reason?
The gauntlet every employee runs, between home and place of work in urban India is the dangerous, and stressful, daily commute. And it is relentless. Over two hours of it EVERY day. And it is on a motorcycle or scooter for most. India ranks the first amongst 199 countries in road accident deaths and contributes to 11% of worldwide deaths. Accident-related disabilities and hospitalizations are in addition. The burning tear-inducing air pollution leads to a variety of respiratory health problems. Traffic-related deaths dropped from about 150k annually to almost nothing during the lockdown,
Not having to deal with the stress and dangers of traffic every day is a huge relief for the breadwinners in all families, especially single-wage ones. This time was now being spent with family and possibly in activities beneficial to personal health. It has proved to be the biggest benefit in providing a work-life balance.
kPoint Technologies has seen many benefits as a company. The safety of employees was the biggest, isolating them in a virulent pandemic was the primary goal. Reduced use of office space and facilities has also been a mixed blessing in cost savings. With remote working as an integral part of the culture, hiring practices have also changed with no real geographic boundaries.
The kPoint management did the following that kept up productivity and performance:
- “In God we trust but everyone else pays cash”. While we say that in jest, trust is at the heart of managing remote workers. Get a commitment from employees to work closely with managers. This means a willingness to check-in regularly, full transparency, and accountability. This led to a mutual trust as all were eager to participate and lay to rest any doubts about work being done and problems that might arise.
- Created cross-functional teams, small enough to lunch on a single large pizza, that work autonomously. They could meet online or in-person when they liked. The number of meetings has dropped and the efficiency has improved. We often wonder why we didn’t do this before the lockdown!
- Provide technical support to allow employees to work remotely. That lies squarely with the company. It is an unreal expectation for employees to perform well in an environment that just may not be ideal for most.
- Use online tools. Communication: Video, phone, and text. Online monitoring software. Enterprise video management allowed kPointers to eat their own dog food. Using video to share information just-in-time and document knowledge was very successful.
- Remember employees complaining about the Company Picnic on a weekend? “Their time”. Now, we organize fun activities at work where the only reason employees show up is to meet socially with their colleagues. Do this regularly and meaningfully. Have a party to celebrate employee birthdays for that month in your conference room or rent one in a convenient hotel. Don’t let it turn into a chore. It will be an invaluable team-building opportunity.
“Would this work for your company? Your experience from the forced test run in 2020 will be your best guide.”
We recognize this is new and as the pandemic lifts, who knows, Working From Home might become a drag! We’ll keep you posted as to how this exciting experiment turns out for kPoint: the Company and employees.
Would this work for your company? Your experience from the forced test run in 2020 will be your best guide. Have a long hard cynical look at the data. Talk with your managers. The vagaries of rules and regulations during the pandemic should have sorted everyone out by now. Certain industries just cannot function with employees WFH. Information Technology and Software companies have had good success.
Do write to us if you have specific questions about our experience. We will be happy to share all that we tried and how it worked for us. Best wishes to you all as we look forward to putting the pandemic behind us!