Pegasystems offers strategic applications for sales, marketing, services and management. It is a leader in software for customer engagement and operational excellence. Here, Suman Reddy, MD, Pegasystems India, talks about the future of work. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: How are you dealing with the Covid-19 situation? What plans have you put in place?
Suman Reddy: This is an unprecedented crisis, which has left a massive impact on the businesses across the industries and subsequently the global economy. Our approach towards the crisis has been quite proactive right from the beginning.
Before the official lockdown was announced, we had already announced our remote working policies across our offices and had initiated the process of making necessary arrangements. In order to establish business continuity, we ensured that employees were technologically and culturally empowered to embrace this ‘new normal’. We are continuing with our hiring process as usual and our entire employee onboarding process is now being conducted virtually. We also made necessary arrangements to deliver the desktops and laptops at the doorstep of employees to ensure smooth transition towards work from home.
DQ: How are you assessing on learnings from enforced experiments around WFH?
Suman Reddy: One of the greatest revelations that has come out of the current situation is the consistency in the employee efficiency and productivity. A number of organizations were quite circumspect of adopting remote working but this forced experiment has ended up delivering unexpected results. This work from home situation has proven to be a great case study on how enhanced communication techniques and constant feedback based interaction can affect productivity.
Organizations world over are also becoming more open to the remote learning platforms offering customized employee trainings. Learning and development is a massive industry, however, a number of these programs often fail to create the necessary impact. With Covid-19 forcing organizations to customize the learning process, the involvement from the employees has been higher than ever.
DQ: How does work/life balance work in a crisis like this?
Suman Reddy: With a majority of global workforce working from home, it is extremely crucial to ensure that the line between work and personal life remains intact. Homes are the new offices and the onus now lies on the management to ensure that the employees get enough ‘me time’.
At Pega, we have been encouraging the employees to take a break from work and use their leaves to spend time with their families. We are also conducting virtual catch up sessions amongst the employees and their families. These times can be quite exhausting for many and in order to help the employees with managing their stress, we have undertaken initiatives such as Employee Assistance Program where not just the employees but even their families are provided with all necessary assistance on any topic through a helpline.
The current situation is new for many and a number of employees are experiencing WFH for the first time in their careers. In such a situation, it is extremely crucial for organizations to be as empathetic and supportive as possible towards the employees.
DQ: How are you now facilitating digital work?
Suman Reddy: All 100% of our employees have been working remotely since mid-March 2020. Along with safeguarding their health, our topmost priority was to technologically empower them for which we undertook a massive exercise of delivering the desktops and laptops to the employees at their doorsteps.
Employees who cannot work with laptops for too long are sent monitors with docking stations along with help from IT personnel for set up at their homes.
DQ: How are the latest technologies going to redefine workplace?
Suman Reddy: Technology is changing the landscape of business. Whether it is the video collaboration tools facilitating critical meetings or process automation technologies assisting employees in enhancing customer experience, our reliance on new age tech is now more than ever. Considering the present condition, I don’t see organizations returning back to normal anytime soon. Hence, businesses will be investing more in areas such as network security, data privacy and employee trainings.
A holistic approach from the businesses is needed at the moment where they need to align organizational goals with the current situation to arrive at sustainable solutions for tomorrow. A massive shift in not just workplaces, but also work culture is imminent and will define the organizations of future.
DQ: How do you plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’?
Suman Reddy: The Covid-19 situation has turned out to be a major milestone for the digital transformation of the workplaces. The work from home arrangement is here to stay across the verticals regardless of the size of the organizations. In this respect, the larger organizations might have an advantage as they are already well equipped with an array of resources to support virtual work.
Only the organizations that have not undergone a complete digital transformation might find it challenging and must act towards it. For the ones continuing with the remote working scenario in the foreseeable future, the onus will be on the management to ensure that the employees are provided with the necessary infrastructure and all necessary support.
Enhanced collaborations and communication capabilities, along with cloud-based business technology will be playing a crucial role in the future of the digital workspaces.
DQ: Are you giving employees more control over their schedules?
Suman Reddy: Along with technologically empowering our employees, we have taken conscious steps to improve their work life balance. We are being extremely flexible with our employees with regards to the timings and meetings and are ensuring that people are able to work as per their timelines.
We have ensured that the employees are able to meet the needs of the organization, infact, our productivity levels have gone up and with the current lockdown situation. The employees have been available and ready to support each other and the organization. The enhanced collaboration in the virtual work environments has truly been a revelation and has delivered great results.
DQ: This is a challenging time for managers. What advice would you give them?
Suman Reddy: Given the intensity of change on multiple dimensions, the managers need to have an agile approach, sensitive to the local, political, economic, scientific and technological trends. Managers must look to develop a special character and a hybrid leadership quality to meet the unanticipated dynamics of the new normal.
Empathy must be also be incorporated into one’s management style as it will play a huge role in these challenging times. A lot of employees might not have had earlier exposure to this scale of virtual work environment and a sensitive approach along with appropriate mentoring would play a key role and bring a sense of ease to the process to deliver results. Never has there been a more pressing time to ensure the leaders of today and tomorrow possess the skills, mindsets, and qualities for a future of hope, progression, and promise.