After successful stints with leading organisations such as PayPal in their software development team, heading the web development team that developed ixigo’s mobile web & having co-founded a start-up, Prepnut.com, Rahul Nanwani co-founded ImageKit in the year 2016. He has extensive experience in software and web development, image optimisation, and web performance. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Nanwani shares about the company’s people strategies in the coming months, his insights on strengthening work culture by leveraging technology and more. Here are some excerpts.
What are your plans for re-imagining your business and people strategy in the coming months?
We are eventually coming out of one of the most unprecedented pandemics that our generation has witnessed. Also, since there is an economic downturn expected globally (which might have an indirect impact on everyone, including Image Kit), our priority is to put our employees in a comfortable position mentally and ensure that they are at peace so that they can focus well and be more productive at work. We are also focussing on upskilling our employees to get better at what they do and move up the ladder within the organisation. We are also improving informal connections between team members in smaller groups.
We are also emphasising employee health and well-being by not just extending the health cover but by also working towards other plans to support mental/physical wellbeing outside of work. We also believe that it’s essential to make employees familiar with relevant technology and tools to ensure an efficient and hassle-free remote working experience, which we have imbibed in our HR policies.
How can organisations strengthen work culture in a hybrid context?
Today's work culture has been transformed entirely with organisations understanding the relevance of employee engagement rather than them spending certain hours in the office. However, to ensure that they feel motivated, it’s vital that we allow them to be represented – we feel large group calls kill this since a few members will always overpower such conversation, while smaller groups are where effective communication can happen within teams.
To strengthen the culture, it’s also integral to hold offline meetups – keeping in mind the logistics. This should be done once every few months, which helps in bringing people together in informal settings. We need to also ensure that our employees feel heard by taking their feedback regularly on what’s working or not working for them.
Finally, providing the flexibility of hybrid or remote policies should be employee-centric and trust-based. Employees mostly loathe micromanagement, and rigidity in the system can also break it. Hence, we must create a culture of flexibility and belongingness for our employees to thrive.
What is the role of technology in enabling the HR function to succeed in the emerging hybrid environment?
Technology is taking HR functions to another level. Digitising employee records, performance/360 reviews, payrolls, leaves, hiring, etc., has moved digital. Analytics can be used to see if things are aligned with company goals. Tech also enables getting employee feedback anonymously, and we will look to implement it. Online team activities have played an essential role in bringing together small groups of people for online icebreakers.
We have also observed an Improvement in package delivery services (tech-enabled) for quickly procuring and sending devices and welcome kits to employees. Earlier, most of these things were never thought of.
As the HR function becomes more digitised, how can leadership address potential challenges efficiently?
The leadership team in any organisation can effectively ensure to what extent HR functions need to be digitised. They also need to look into how it enhances employees’ productivity and aligns them to the business goals. Excessive use of needless technology might have a counter effect in the short term since there are far too many tools available. It is up to the leadership to set short-term and long-term goals for the company and employees and introduce tech gradually to attain these goals. Technology can assist organisations in many aspects of people strategy; however, it cannot replace them.
What is your take on building a culture of innovation at the workplace in the face of digital transformation?
Remote work has its own set of challenges in a cultural setting. We need to strike the right chords to balance efficiency and employee working predilections properly. This is precisely what we need to ensure within our organisation as leaders. We need to unlock our people’s potential with the right amount of technology integration. At the end of the day, leadership needs to encourage innovation and lead by example wherever possible.