We have a simple protocol and that is to do with communication - real-time communication and real-time response
Sheroes is a career platform for women and our goal is to enable women in their careers. And thus, limiting to just metro cities would have restricted our opportunities. If we really want to clear the access to corporate jobs for women, remote work was a key differentiator. We believe in that philosophy and so in our own company, about 50 per cent of our work is done by employees working remotely.
Remote work has a lot to do with organizational culture. There is a difference between how work is done traditionally and how work is done remotely. The change in dynamics has to do with a paradigm shift in the style of working. Remote work requires employees to consciously engage for collaboration, and as there is little room for hierarchy, there is a need to be at ease with the communication channels. There is a need, therefore, to also unlearn some of the management behaviors as well as business designs. There are hardly any large organizations that build remote work projects because they are institutional, and if an organization is highly institutional, it is difficult to integrate remote work. What we’re seeing, however, is that companies are giving their current employees an opportunity to work from home as and when required. But that does not change anything institutionally. There are some companies that are more amiable to work remotely, they are founder-led companies, companies with flat structures and low hierarchy, and companies that are not customer facing and are product-led.
In our own organization, we’re detail-oriented and remote work is well integrated into the core functions. We have a simple protocol and that is to do with communication - real-time communication and real-time response. It is an extremely useful tool to align people, especially when they have never seen each other. Some of our employees who work remotely are in-charge of integral functions. Since different people have different expectations, we talk about what success looks like at each level. In order for people to acclimatize themselves to the organizational structure, we ensure that they start with an easy function. Then they rise up in the organization because they adapt, collaborate and communicate.
Then there are also employees who want to do remote work because they want a manageable work-life balance. In that case, their work is designed in such a way that it is harmonious with the employee’s priorities and organizations goals that we can measure.
The principal talent pools have been women at middle-level positions across administration levels. It is very difficult to find people with high technology skills. When one enters an organization, there is still an opportunity to learn, there are people who can help you with your problems and you learn from others. But when you work remotely, you fall short of that kind of exposure. That’s why the market is ripe for experienced professionals as opposed to fresh talent.
It is important to note that there will be a failure rate. At some point, there will be an alignment change. And it is our job to ensure that those who are aligned continue to do so and those that aren’t need to step out.
There is a growing interest among employers although most organizations do not have the bandwidth to invest in remote work. At some point, we see ourselves plugging that gap. And that gap is cultural, not technological.
As told to J. Jerry Moses