What is the impact of the pandemic on workplace technologies? Where is it most apparent?

There is no doubt that the pandemic has affected workplace technology. It is clear from the Microsoft Work Index Study’s research into workplace trends that the notions of work as they stand today are permanently changing. The traditional workplace as we defined it is disrupted, and this disruption will continue; not just for offshore or junior positions, but also for the highly educated and well-paid minority of the workforce. 

A hybrid on-site/remote workforce will be enabled by workplace technologies

According to a recent study by McKinsey, employees with job functions that can be performed offsite will spend anywhere between 1 and 4 days onsite per week. Policies and procedures are being crafted around this approach, as the transition of the workforce to a more robust structure of this nature. The emergence of a people-centric culture has driven a significant change in recruitment practices, IT, employee engagement, stakeholder management, and communications compared to other functions. 

ExterNetworks has reevaluated daily staff operations and moved to a new way of working as well, like all companies. We reviewed it from a role-based perspective instead of letting levels decide which functions should be performed from home. We were able to enable our frontline employees to work from their location and service customers instead of having them come to the branch office.

What specific measures has the company taken to ensure employee productivity through technological innovations? 

Doing the smart thing is one of our core values. Considering the times we live in, the best thing we can do is to simplify work for our employees so they can deliver joyful experiences to our customers. As a result of this ethos, we increased our digital capabilities almost immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic. The company has introduced a few digital assets in the past 3 quarters that cater to business needs. To streamline the business, as usual, we launched digital assets for on-site support. The ExterNetworks IT support department has implemented an industry-first on-site support strategy as part of its digital transformation agenda. 

It gives engineers the ability to perform critical business functions digitally, right from pre-sales to customer on-boarding and servicing, along with complete seller lifecycle management with digital recruitment, learning management, and performance management.

What has been the impact of interventions during the pandemic? 

We feel confident in the health and safety of our employees because 98% of them have been vaccinated at least once. Moreover, Due to the blurring of personal and professional boundaries that people are managing, we have established no call and no meeting hours. 

We encourage teams to speak casually, reflect, and connect whenever possible, and meet in person wherever possible. In general, we don’t schedule meetings or deliverables before 9.30 AM or after 6.30 PM so that people can spend time with their families. The dedicated lunch break also encourages employees to eat with their families without being interrupted by calls. 

In addition to rejuvenating employees, it encourages them to de-stress healthily. As a result, productivity has been sustained and communication channels have been heightened.

Is the company predicting any further disruption to work trends soon?

The future of work will continue to be uncertain as long as we live in uncertain times. We should remain adaptable. What can be predicted, however, is that we will need to work hard on upskilling our workforces to cope with digital disruptions. Furthermore, the micro-credentialing of employees’ custom-fit to their predispositions will see an uptick once hybrid culture settles in. 

We have warned our employees of a 3rd wave and offered them a set of digital tools and Help Desk Solutions that will allow them to continue with their daily tasks without interruption.  

You should also watch how candidates select a good employer. Employees will no longer make career decisions solely based on compensation, location, and role. When prospective employees are evaluating alternate employers, they will consider factors such as the organization’s focus on well-being (mental & physical), flexibility in the choice of workplace, and timings and support extended in the event of long illnesses of self or family members.  

What role has technology played in enabling inclusiveness at work? Does this differ from pre-COVID times?

We have centralized information under the ExtNOC team. It has helped employees feel connected to the company and a sense of belonging during the pandemic. 

Are communication barriers between leaders and employees being broken down by the digitalization of the workplace? Describe.

Democratization is embedded in digitization. As a consequence, technology ensures a level playing field across verticals and hierarchies. With ExterNetworks, for example, support engineers can engage prospective customers with lead management, need-based product recommendations, calculators, and quotations. Our marketing strategy sharing, announcements, etc. engagement opportunities are available to our users. The portal also acts as a gateway for customer onboarding – with similar practices across the domain. Every employee has access to information. 

Our On-Site support teams use smart features to manage the support team comprehensively. While all these disruptions counter the threat of the pandemic, they ensure that employees and leaders remain united.

What did ExtNoc do to keep its employees engaged during lockdowns?

In these times, listening and being available have become increasingly important simply because we want our teams to feel supported. We used a platform for business leaders to engage, and direct communication with the leadership team has seen a rise in engagement. Each employee feels valued and heard due to this direct interaction across levels.

When digital technology expands into every industry, how will HR professionals’ roles change?

In my experience, what we saw as future trends in digitization affecting HR operations has now been implemented. Our processes need to be recalibrated to accommodate this digital trend. There needs to be a massive transformation to reimagine organization structures with different working conditions- gig, hybrid, full-time, etc. Therefore, one has to rethink the way rewards, employee development, and retention of different types of workforces are viewed. Positioning people and maximizing business efficiency is of utmost importance.  Certain skills in networking and IT are increasingly in demand as companies become more diverse. Employers look for candidates who can adapt to rapid market changes and for managers who are empathetic and practical in their approach to handling disruption.


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