Time’s right for MSMEs to lean in & lead workplace transformations with remote working: Lenovo

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In a post-COVID-19 world, balancing between employee safety and business continuity has compelled companies to rethink organisational transformation and realign their operations, leading to the new world order of remote working.

Braving the new world order

While this tectonic shift to remote working has been demanding for companies of all sizes, MSMEs have faced greater challenges that have been compounded by the fact that a lot of the work at MSMEs requires human presence at the worksite.

“The challenges were because we had never given a serious thought about remote working. Also, as a manufacturer, our core work is not adaptable to remote working as is the case with an IT company,” says Gaurav Jalan, Founder, Packman Packaging, a leading manufacturer of corrugated carton boxes, security bags and courier packaging.

The view was echoed by Angad Singg Puri, Retail Head & Spokesperson, Avian Lifestyle, a growing furniture company.

“Just like any other MSME in the retail sector, remote working itself was alien to us. Our day-to-day operations and business were largely dependent on our network of retail showrooms.”

But the narrative has changed today. COVID-19 has played an instrumental role in helping MSMEs embrace this new way of working, and use it as an opportunity to drive workplace transformations that have been on the back burner for long. While Avian swiftly built a digital presence and channelised employes to focus on all operations that can be done remotely, from cold calling, follow-ups, up-gradation of the online catalogue, R&D of new designs, among others, Packman’s workforce, except those involved in the shopfloor, adopted a remote working model.

An effective and seamless transition to remote working

Rohit Sandal, India HR Head, Lenovo, says this transition of the workplace to home is “the only way for MSMEs to sustain and thrive in an ever-changing world.” With over two decades of diverse HR experience and leading Lenovo's HR strategy and operations in India for the last five years, he comes with a proven track record in leading employee engagement, employee relations and HR transformation projects across various business lines.

MSMEs must enable the right IT infrastructure and collaborative tools, provide appropriate training to manage time and performance, put in cybersecurity, data privacy and confidentiality measures and minimise digital risks, Rohit says, adding that these will not only enable businesses to adapt to the new world order but also boost employee experience.

Here, Lenovo’s devices and technology offerings stand apart, he says. The devices, accessories and solutions are not only built for remote productivity but its solutions are optimised for comfortable remote working. For instance, observing that employees who are given company-owned devices and software programs are finding it challenging without access to a dedicated IT helpdesk, Lenovo offers a premium support service. This advanced support solution for businesses is more than a standard support offering. It provides a single point of contact for advanced technical support, end-to-end case management, and first-time resolutions. Employees get direct 24x7 access to Lenovo’s most elite technicians who listen first, then deliver advanced troubleshooting.

In addition to numerous devices, accessories and solutions, Lenovo today is making it easier for MSMEs to enable its employees to transition to remote working. From information on how to equip employees to ensuring that their video calls and web conferences run smoothly and productively, to useful guides to optimise wi-fi networks to overcome some of the most common problems to maintenance essentials to help with PC health, Lenovo has put together useful guides for users. “Because, there is a need to scale up smarter workplace everywhere,” Rohit says.

While access to collaborative tools and resources as well as digital practices become key, there is another element that plays a critical role in enabling employees to adjust to the demands of remote working - paying attention to the mental and emotional health of employees.

Rohit says, “The concerns around safety, adjusting to remote working environments and routine, job security has all contributed to a sense of heightened anxiety and fear. This can impact employees, making the work environment more volatile than it already is. That’s why MSMEs must also pay equal attention to the mental and emotional health of its employees.”

MSMEs must lead the way

“It becomes imperative for leaders to embrace the new world order positively and support that by putting in place necessary support systems on ground. It is time for MSMEs to lean in and lead,” Rohit says.

And, given the changing dynamics in the market and the industry prediction that remote working is now going to become mainstream, Rohit says the onus is on HR leaders to evaluate the impact this trend will have on their organisation’s operations and strategic goals.

“Remote working does not hamper productivity. Of course, it goes without saying that one needs to nurture the right culture and put in place key enablers to do. It is here the leadership must drive the culture of change,” he adds, “It’s going to be a period of continuous learning and feedback. And, we will need to leverage this to make further improvements.”

Adopting smart HR practices becomes significant. “It is all about embracing the change positively. It’s an opportunity to create a role model for people strategies, enabled by tech. It’s time to put people first and HR has the most impactful role to play.”


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