Companies in Nepal have initiated remote working for staff amid the COVID-19 outbreak. But working from home has proved to be challenging for some, especially as the global spread of COVID-19 has forced people to work from home for an indeterminate amount of time. The outbreak has touched an array of businesses in Nepal.
For Nepalese, the biggest challenge in transitioning to remote working is the lack of routine that typically exists in an office environment. We find it difficult to ascertain when to turn on and off work mode. “My team is performing well at home, but all of them have reported either under or overworking,” says Shashank Shrestha. Additionally, getting in the zone and staying focused throughout the day is another big challenge. “Employees are not able to perform 100% from home due to their mental state, environment, resources, data, etc.,” says Chhitiz Kiran Shrestha, Management Consultant.
Following the lockdown, another challenge that remote workers are facing is slow internet connectivity. As most of the people are housebound, Internet usage has increased remarkably, putting a strain on the bandwidth offered by service providers.
Furthermore, Nepali businesses are showing growing concern over the economic impact of the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Chhitiz Kiran Shrestha also states that “Organizations are concerned about the economic aftermath, so they are not willing to pay 100% to their staff.” This affects the overall motivation level of team members in the organization.
Despite all these challenges a lot of businesses and organizations are continuing their work. To gain more understanding of how different businesses and organizations are moving forward during this difficult time, Biruwa Advisors communicated with a few entrepreneurs as well as team members of startups and businesses. These feedbacks were collected from personal conversations, email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn of Biruwa Advisors. We are sharing our biggest learnings from the conversations and hope that this helps you guide or reaffirm your actions.
The first step to moving forward is to define how you will operate within the given conditions. This helps you and your team understand how the organization will move in the current scenario. In a way, we learned to do it during the earthquake and the blockade. This is another crisis on the market with different resource constraints.
Based on our past experience, it is always advisable to define the structure and flow of work with an open mind to recognize the possibility of change to move around different operational challenges.
In all of the organizations that are continuing their work, communication is one of the priorities. During this time of isolation, communication helps to provide clarity and confidence not only to the team members but also to clients. Some of the organizations have daily team meetings to keep each other posted about the work they are doing and the developments.
Where physical presence is not possible different media can be used to keep all the team members and customers informed about the activities. This is the next big learnings of our exercise.
HLE Nepal is a BPO based in Australia with more than 150 team members here in Nepal. When asked about their work continuity, Roshan Joshi, who is the Digital Marketing Manager commented, “As a marketing team, we’re using JIRA as a project management tool and Google Hangouts for video calls. So far so good.”
Similarly, Avigya Karki, Muna Agro Enterprise Group stated that due to access to technology he has been able to work from home with his various SME teams. He has been using Skype, Viber, and Zoom to connect with them in different factories/production areas. He also mentioned that he had help from the younger team members to consider different technology options.
Businesses that are continuing work in the current scenario are the ones that have adapted and used technology for customer relationship or service delivery.
Though this falls under technological changes, we want to highlight this separately because of its huge impact on our business processes and approaches. Biruwa Advisors embraced online banking as a payment method since early 2017 and we have been utilizing the services provided by our bank, Laxmi Bank, for the company as well as for our team members.
Apps and networks such as eSewa, Fonepay, Khalti, and Connect IPS are being used by different organizations to make different types of payments. A lot of organizations have used online banking services and Connect IPS for payment of salaries during the lockdown.
Due to the lockdown and work from home practice, a lot of team members within the organization may get some free time where they are not specifically engaged in any task. This can be a good time for them to look at internal tasks that were kept at lower priority during normal times but are necessary for the overall organizational development. Updating policies, streamlining operations and documenting additional practices are few of the tasks related to management that organizations can focus on.
This is also a critical time to prepare for the future. Organizations may want to consider strategies to deal with a potential change in the scenario after the lockdown is pulled off.
A lot of people we talked to mentioned that there is a tendency to under or overwork while working from home. The organizations can try different approaches to maintain and continue team members’ engagement in work. However, they should also communicate with their teams that they need to avoid burning out and take time-outs, set aside weekends for personal work, exercise, and maybe pursue hobbies that they had not been able to during regular times.
Since working from home removes a lot of boundaries related to home and office, team members should be encouraged to consciously remove themselves from the desk. You can find more pointers on working from home in our blog 11 Ways to Become a Work from Home Wizard.