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Flexible work arrangement has always been huge in our company. In fact, many of our team members value it as one of the primary employee propositions working here at aAdvantage. So, it’s of no surprise that when Covid-19 hits us in the form of mandatory work-from-home (WFH) ruling, all of us are ‘ready’ for the transition - to move from the familiar physical world and navigate into the unknown ‘virtual’ world. Yet there remain challenges ranging from:

  • Technical issues - Murphy’s law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. This can range from home broadband to hardware and software issues, even the hardy ‘original’ battery charger will break down when you need it most; thankfully most of these resolve over time with some of us experiencing greater pain than others

  • Face-time – even though we are able to work from home previously, most meetings are conducted in the office as team members feel that it’s more conducive and perhaps, more productive and effective this way; seeing and talking to one another face-to-face on-line especially in a group setting seem weird. Can’t help but think “What are they doing when they are not talking?”

  • Physical space – having to work with multiple family members around you can be a boon or bane. There can be ‘distractions’ of different nature, ranging from tender loving care from a loved one who’s constantly checking in if you want a drink or perhaps more (I emphasise) food; to kids (if you have them), who are perhaps not so happy that you are around because you have taken over their desk (and room) to do your private video conference call

 

The list goes on and at the end of the day, it requires passion, discipline and established norms to make things work and work well.

It has been 2 weeks since the official WFH and I realise that as a firm, we have achieved so much. So, here’s my stock take on what’s been done (and many more). Whilst similar activities are conducted in the past, these items in the list are accomplished for the very first time in the virtual environment!

aAdvantage's WFH Initiatives (All Conducted Online)

  1. Birthday song for our April "Baby", Joan

  2. 1st company-wide townhall involving all our colleagues

  3. Experiential learning journey from our Learning Lab Committee - an initiative to explore new areas
    and share 

  4. Joint development of bite-size online product offerings (from ideation to development)

  5. Joint development of marketing collaterals for omni-channel outreach

  6. 1-to-1 debrief / leadership conversations on Executive Leadership Assessments with clients (each lasting close to 2 hours, complete with screen sharing and document exchange)

  7. Yoga Session from our Work-Life Committee

  8. Official communications, chats and status updates using multiple online platforms (whichever works best!)

All these may happen as a result of necessity or some would say ‘no choice’. I have a slightly different perspective. Some organisations will embrace WFH faster and more effective than others. This has lesser to do with technology but more with organisation culture. At the core of this is Organisation Trust. Is there trust within the organisation that everyone will “do the right things and do things right” for the organisation.   

 

Our current culture of people taking ownership, seeking clarity, respecting differences, learning and applying new knowledge and caring for one another helps us navigate through this difficult period and propels us to be ready for the future. No one is 100% clear, we are learning and adapting together...

This article was first published in sgsme.sg on 23 April 2020.

Author: Vincent Ho, Director, aAdvantage Consulting

Vincent has led business transformations, customer experience and corporate structuring projects across diverse industries such as government services, telecommunications and media, healthcare, education, hospitality, manufacturing services, financial services, property development and consultancy, security services, distribution and retail.

He is also an experienced business facilitator and has facilitated many senior and staff workshops in areas of Vision, Mission and Values, Strategic Planning, Customer Experience, Work-planning and High Performance Team Development.

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