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Enable, Engage & Empower your talent @Home

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GCCs have kept the lights on for their global enterprise during these unusual times by pioneering the shift to Remote Working, and subsequently, other sectors of the economy followed suit. And we all discovered – that Work From Home actually works!

However, your delivery center is no longer in a swanky office district, or an SEZ – but rather in the Employee’s Home. As a senior GCC leader remarked – if you earlier had 5000 Employees at your India Office – you now have 5000 Offices in India. During the pandemic the Home has been a bunker, a cocoon, and also the heart of your delivery engine. Perhaps we can even call this new delivery model HomeShoring.

Since WFH productivity has been good, with attendant cost benefits – CFOs are hinting at longer term WFH beyond the pandemic. Therefore, GCC leaders need to prepare accordingly. Interestingly, in the last few months – WFH followed a curve – with initial employee euphoria, then weariness, and lately, even burnout. But given that remote work is here to stay – here’s how leaders can ensure that the home remains a productive and sustainable driver of value:

Enabling your talent @Home:

The Right Tools – Organizations did fairly well equipping teams – laptops, broadband, VPN connectivity, video-conferencing tools, many even providing headsets and ergonomic chairs. However, it is now an opportune time to push adoption of more advanced collaboration software like Mural, Trello, etc. for real-time whiteboarding, project management, and wider collaboration.

Cybersecurity for a Home-based Workforce – The rapid shift to remote work has opened new loopholes for cybercriminals. In a recent online poll by Threatpost, 40% of respondents reported increased cyberattacks as they enable remote working. Recently, a major data breach at online grocery store, BigBasket rang alarm bells everywhere. Now that we know we are into Remote Working for the long haul – the cybersecurity Patchworks that many organizations had rapidly put into place at the onset of the pandemic – may now need to be revisited and strengthened.

5 key Cybersecurity must-haves you need in place:

  1.  A crisis command center.
  2.  An incident response playbook to respond to multiple risk scenarios.
  3.  Virtual cyber-incident reporting and response, remotely deployable forensic tools.
  4.  Security for remote workforce (unified Endpoint management for devices, Identity and Access management for users, apps, data).
  5.  Access to remote on-demand security experts to extend security team capacity, bring in specialized skills.

Engaging your talent @Home:

 Establishing a Rhythm – While trust is an important ingredient in remote working – one of the practical challenges with WFH is some team members may find it difficult to stick to a productive schedule. A practical management practice of setting up a daily team call in the morning can greatly help to signal the start of the workday. This helps with getting the entire team in “work” mode and establishes a rhythm. On the other end of the spectrum too – given that the blurring of home/work lines – given the lack of the evening commute – many employees do not completely log off from work till very late – this will inevitably lead to eventual burnout of your best workers – so perhaps an evening Team Debrief call could effectively signal the end of the workday.

Motivating & Sustaining – For remote work to be sustainable on the long-term – leaders will now need to do more to create engagement, motivate individuals and entire teams in order to keep up performance and retain talent. This includes adequate communication (over-communication is better than under); embracing a culture of trust (measuring output rather than hours); flexible remote-working expectations (with clear support of employee mental health and family obligations); and most importantly fostering on a feeling of belonging (frequent non-work team interactions to stand-in for watercooler moments, maybe team bonding t-shirts, informal awards, perhaps even a synchronized pizza team lunch).

Empowering your talent @Home:

What makes some teams tick better at WFH – As we settle into WFH, we realize some teams tend to be more effective than others, and some individuals continue to deliver consistently – whereas many of their peers see output suffering. WFH actually requires a different sort of skills so we need to equip our teams with these. Teams and individuals that have discovered these skills, perhaps by serendipity, tend to be more productive, satisfied and engaged than others. In a recent article Fast Company talks about 6 key skills most needed to succeed in a post-pandemic world – skills like self-direction by workers, comfort with digital tools, virtual communication skills, etc. But these skills may not be as intuitive for all workers – CHROs should consider investing in building this skillset. A good first step would be to kick-off Remote Worker Assessments for recognizing an inventory of these critical skills, and then draw out action plans to fill these skill gaps via awareness & training programs customized by individual and team.

6 key skills to succeed in a post-pandemic world:

  1. Self-direction
  2. Comfort with digital tools
  3. Empathy
  4. Virtual communication skills
  5. Adaptability
  6. Motivational skills (Self-motivation & Persuading others virtually).

In Summary: Preparing for a Different Normal

We don’t know the final impact of the current pandemic, or future ones – but it is clear we need to do things differently, to adapt. Fortunately, we live in an era where we have tools that made a virtual, contactless world possible. These tools allow us to operate, plan and respond to a crisis in a way that past eras never could. So Enabling, Engaging and Empowering our talent could help us thrive with a new, evolved delivery model – perhaps a different normal where you are @Home, but not alone!

Gaurav Chawla, Asia Pacific BD Leader (Global Transformation Centers), IBM


  1. Beyond the Great Lockdown: Emerging stronger to a different normal – Covid-19 action guide for Executives: IBM Institute for Business Value.
  2. 6 skills employees will need in the post-pandemic workplace: Fast Company.

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