Siemens Healthineers India enables healthcare providers to increase value by empowering them on their journey towards expanding precision medicine, transforming care delivery, and improving patient experience, all enabled by digitalizing healthcare. Here, Gerd Hoefner, MD and President, Siemens Healthcare Pvt Ltd, 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?
Gerd Hoefner: We are guided by two objectives; the first is to ensure the safety of our employees, which is our top priority. We have defined plans to ensure that their physical and mental well-being is considered while working from home. The second is ensuring business continuity as far as we responsibly can. Our plans are aligned with the directives shared by the government and our headquarter, and we are strictly following them. We have specific business continuity plans for critical services running out of our offices, and we are taking all precautionary measures recommended by government agencies and our global employee health and safety department.
DQ: Are you giving employees more control over their schedules?
Gerd Hoefner: Our philosophy always was to enable our people to demonstrate ownership and take control over their time and tasks, which in our experience is the foundation for a productive work environment. They have always been given the flexibility to define their schedules, which makes them feel more accountable and empowered. The only difference now is that almost everybody is working remotely.
DQ: How are you assessing on learnings from enforced experiments around WFH?
Gerd Hoefner: We will evaluate the pros and cons of remote working, build capabilities to make WFH an accepted and broadly used practice, and emerge stronger out of the current situation.
DQ: This is a challenging time for managers. What advice would you give them?
Gerd Hoefner: In the current situation, demonstrating empathy is critical. It is the key to being a good leader and helps forge trust-based relationships. I spend considerable time in video calls with our people who are distributed across different locations, to understand their challenges, and extend support where required and, more importantly, create a feeling that we are in this together. Also, a culture of empowerment is vital for success in these challenging times. It is critical to enable others to take ownership and make decisions. It is the only way you let your team learn and grow.
DQ: How does work/life balance work in a crisis like this?
Gerd Hoefner: Working on activities such as software engineering requires extensive collaboration, which becomes challenging when operating in the most possible distributed way, i.e., a way where every team member physically is at a different location. Everyone is under work pressure and maintaining work-life balance becomes difficult. The more important is to plan the day in detail, to schedule work, to create an activity list first thing in the morning, to sync-up with team members regularly, to focus intensely, and to practice techniques such as yoga and meditation, to enhance mental and physical health.
We have also organized the online meditation programs for our employees, that combine theory with guided virtual meditation sessions, and fun employee engagement activities to facilitate a feeling of positivity and oneness.
DQ: How are you now facilitating digital work?
Gerd Hoefner: The pandemic has highlighted the need to embrace digitalization, and this is a positive development. To facilitate remote working, we have significantly enhanced our IT infrastructure to enable secure and efficient remote access for all our employees. We also rolled out a range of virtual tools to intensify collaboration and communication while working digitally.
DQ: How are the latest technologies going to redefine the workplace?
Gerd Hoefner: The acceptance of remote working will increase, which will put the higher demand in ensuring the resilience of systems, especially with respect to cybersecurity. The current set of collaboration and communication tools, which allow video calls, instant messaging, shared repositories, and communities, have worked well for us, and we will see greater use of such platforms. It was impressive to see how people were quickly able to switch to a home office and the new way of working while keeping all processes running against all the odds. Getting things done needs more than just technologies; it requires people with passion.
DQ: How do you plan for a future of ‘decent digiwork’?
Gerd Hoefner: As the coronavirus curve flattens, many organizations will shift from questioning the digital future to adopting it seamlessly. The pandemic has made remote working an accepted norm. We will analyze what we experienced during the lockdown, what went well, and what makes sense to be maintained as a part of our new way of working post Covid-19. Even in the new way of working, our people beliefs, and our commitment to inclusivity and diversity will not change. Also, ensuring the health and well-being of our employees will always remain a top priority for our organization.
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