While a majority of the companies continue to allow employees to work from home in the Unlock 1 phase, OKR technology can be beneficial to ensure the productivity of employees. In an interview with DataQuest, Bastin Gerald, CEO, Profit.co highlights the problems that remote working has brought to the fore, how OKR technology can help in this regard, and about what his company has to offer to ensure business continuity of organizations.
DQ: What are the difficulties being faced by employees who are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are a few key challenges, which we are all in the process of combating:
Infrastructure Readiness Challenges: These are largely physical infrastructure problems, for example, lack of high configuration professional laptops, separate meeting rooms or high-speed net connectivity. Pandemic times have been times of e-learning for kids, which means the sharing of gadgets of the employees (parents). Employees in Tier 2 towns may have bandwidth issues and some employees have to choose between sharing their Screen/Videochat & “Just audio”. These challenges can be overcome with adequate planning.
Challenges for organizations: Several companies in Bengaluru have been asked to ship anywhere between 10K – 20K laptops within a week of the lockdown. In many cases like the OSP players had to establish fresh VPN protocols so that employees could work in a secure manner.
Other challenges: The working hours of the employees have been actually stretched, with many employees claiming that they are working at least 3 hours more since the lockdown started. Of course, many of us miss the Face to Face interactions, the instantaneous appreciation and the real-time support that used to be taken for granted when we worked out of our offices.
DQ: How can OKR technology help employees handle challenges during the pandemic time?
When it comes to employee engagement and commitment OKRs can play a critical role through the F.A.C.T.S framework-
- Focus is extremely critical for fast-paced organizations. For example, zoom now caters to 300 million users; After the recent security issues, within a couple of days, the company released a security patch. OKRs help organizations to focus on actions that they really need to do now.”
- Alignment- Losing focus at an individual level can escalate alignment issues at a larger corporate level. OKRs help align goals in tandem with the larger organizational objectives -from a CxO level to the next level of management to an individual employee. Alignment curbs any wastage of efforts.
- Commitment- Commitments are OKRs that will be achieved 100% –Teams will track their OKRs transparently using tools like Profit.co. This keeps everyone aware of the scoreboard and facilitates members helping those who need help in completing their commitments by sharing resources and expertise as required.
- Tracking- As a measurement tool, an OKR can clearly define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each aspect of the business.
- Stretching- OKRs can help the team to elevate their performance beyond what they thought was possible.
OKRs help in creating great workspaces where employees are engaged, enabled and energized to drive business results.
Our platform allows organizations to build transparent goals from the bottom-up, hence goal-setting is one collaborative, continual process of measuring, tracking, and aligning employee efforts with company-wide objectives.
Once the larger company objectives are set, our platform allows employees to come up with their own ideas to experiment, implement and achieve those objectives. The employees’ commitment level towards that result is very high.
Let me explain the employee engagement by the IKEA effect. IKEA effect is actually based on behavioral economics and refers to the human tendency to love the things, we helped create. This principle has broad implications for businesses.
Our OKR platform embraces this IKEA effect philosophy to improve employee commitment and engagement. Employees creating their own key results and aligning them to the higher-level key results and objectives increase their sense of ownership and empowers them.
DQ: How are OKRs helping build the new category of “remote leaders”?
One of the core tenets of OKRs is that it helps organizations to nurture self-driven employees. So not only remote leadership but OKR empowers every individual employee to commit with a larger drive. Traditionally organizations operated on the waterfall model, a plan which was centrally developed and executed with little inputs from the ground. The current remote/ work from home model calls for a much more agile and fluid execution strategy. Under the new agile regime employees work with two to four-week sprints where the duration of the meetings is less as is the number of meetings.
Through these multiple short sprints, the teams achieve one module and then move on to the next module. These multiple short modules give a lot of flexibility to both organizations and customers.
OKRs encourage remote leaders as-
- Employees are engaged right from the planning stage.
- As the objectives are defined for a short duration of time, employees are involved in a bottom-up exercise to confirm their own objectives and key results and align that to the larger corporate objectives.
- There is a transparent scoreboard available for everyone.
- Weekly check-ins allow team members to help and support each other.
When employees themselves define and commit for a goal, that itself is a huge motivation than somebody else handing over the goal and asking the employees to do it. So OKRs help build remote leaders right from the goal setting stage.
The transparent scoreboard allows inter and intra team members/departments to see each other’s achievement in fulfilling the decided goals. In-case if there is a scenario where two teams are performing well and a third team is lagging behind; The weekly check-ins facilitated by the OKRs also help in communicating the best practices and the team members help each other without any directives coming from a central authority.
Let me further elaborate with an example- OKRs also work very well with cross-functional teams. One of our digital marketing clients had to reduce the time taken for a company’s webpage to upload. This digital marketing team worked with remote teams. Although this objective was owned by the digital marketing team but the goal had to be accomplished in collaboration with the web maintenance team, which in turn was part of the engineering team.
In the first week web maintenance team tried multiple things to reduce the web page loading time-
- Minimize Image sizes
- Optimize caches
Still, the efforts were not enough to reduce the site upload time, so the engineering team jumped in and engaged with an external vendor. Both the external and internal teams collaborated and eventually found the solution to reduce the website upload time.
Using an OKR platform like Profit.co and implementing the check-ins and weekly reviews religiously, helped uncover the problem and empowered the teams, both internal and external, to collaborate and solve the bottlenecks in achieving the business objective of reducing the website’s upload time.
DQ: How is Profit.co helping organizations in India with their BCP plans?
Profit.co is available as a cloud-based platform. As we have explained above, the OKR framework enables organizations to run their operations through an iterative business execution system. OKRs encourage teams to set up and achieve stretch goals through collaboration. The weekly check-in and reporting framework encourage employees to work in a responsible-self driven manner. These companies are surviving and thriving in today’s chaotic environment.