After almost fifteen years of working in corporate and telecom industry, I decided to shift my source of livelihood to the other side of the table. All these years I grappled with targets, processes, norms and numerous challenges but now I was actually moving into different waters which was uncharted for me and where the entire game plan is going to go through a radical transformation. Maybe metamorphosis is not the right word over here as some of the tactical moves remain the same like communication which is extremely important in both the arenas.
Training being my forte, my business is all about capability building and then putting things in the right perspective through audits and checks. I do this for one of the leading telecom multinational in almost a dozen circles across the country. Our modus operandi takes the virtual office route as we ride the technological evolution in communication industry to make our operations smooth and efficient. Gone are the days where brick and mortar structures gave you that feel of a working environment. Now its all about staying on-line, uploads and downloads, remote monitoring, data crunching, geo-fencing route maps, deployment of Sales Force Automation tools and presentation of analysis and inferences. Periodic reviews help in making mid course corrections and sometimes the help of webcasts and video conferencing saves that travelling cost of meeting people in person. Finally its a question of increasing top-line and reducing the bottom-line to optimise the returns. However there are hazards of running a virtual office as one can tend to lose one’s grip on the entire operation and people management may take a back-seat while aligning them to stick to their KPIs and targets. Hence a robust and seamless two way communication process works best in managing this kind of business enterprise. The peculiarity of my business is that each of our employees whether trainer or auditor operates on fixed mandates and have daily targets to chase. However the absence of a reporting rigmarole to a brick and mortar office can often make these people complacent and allure them to various distractions affecting the quality of their work. Also the feeling of being remotely monitored can also unnerve the employee whether he or she is in the right job and may therefore encourage the practice of job-hunting and can put your attrition control under serious jeopardy. The multiple options of armchair jobs in the market all the more creates this uncertainty in the minds of an employer to manage his long list of heads in the payroll muster. Few simple techniques ensure that a two way communication process can beat these threats and pave the way for a better people management.
1. Employer to employee
A). Create a strong back-end team to keep a close tab on the daily activities of the team. Record their daily tasks and do a closure at the end of the day. Care should be taken not to give it a picture of surveillance but staying connected with the progress in business. Design a route map and assign daily tasks and targets to the field and let the back end team ensure zero digressions.
B). Create various communication forums over whatsapp or google talk to maintain a two way communication process and ensure that all your messages are acknowledged by the field staff.
C). As a senior management member, take your time out to speak to your front line at least once in every two to three days to ensure that the person feels connected and responsible for what he is doing.
D). Respond to all queries thrown by the field staff and remove all forms of ambiguities in their understanding through conference calls, video conference (skype works best over here) and mails. Ensure that the response is done in right time as issues left to stagnate become perfect recipes of disaster.
E). Design a Employee Profit Index (EPI) that measures the revenue generated by the employee with respect to the cost he has incurred and keep the respective employee well informed about it. Share a handsome part of this net profit in the form of bonus with the employee. The person would be more accountable to the job he is doing.
2. Employee to employer
A). Create a periodic reporting structure and reinforce its adherence by designing and implementing a carrot and stick policy to follow it.
B). Create a grievance cell where these employees can voice their concerns and stay anonymous.
C). Ensure a proper Employee Satisfaction Survey is done annually by a third party to ascertain whether the management is in the right track of keeping their employees happy and contented or not.
D). Make yourself and the supervisors accessible to the employees 24 x 7 and this is a very strong tool to spread that feeling of being cared.
E). Create SPOCs (Single Point of Contacts) for various businesses so that decentralisation of power helps in addressing issues through single windows and bureaucratic hassles are removed from the system.
All these practices may sound familiar but then implementing and running them diligently is the key to success of managing a virtual working environment. You would tend to find various loop holes if you delve deep into your communication process and once you plug those gaps and monitor their smooth functioning, lots of inherent issues of managing a large manpower will minimise drastically. We can vouch for this as we manage a total strength of 600 plus employees and still keep the attrition level as low as 6% annually. All because we believe our human resources as our true strength and we love to stay connected with them.
Apexa Information Systems Pvt Ltd.