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Celebrating a quarter of working from home: Milestones & Learnings

Three month ago, exactly on this day—March 14, 2020—our entire team at MyOperator decided to shift to work from home with immediate effect. 

In early March, Coronavirus cases were on the rise in India and the world and our Founder and CEO Ankit Jain suspected the lockdown was coming. 

For the sake of safety of all employees, to keep our business and the business of our clients and customers going during lockdown, a decision was made — we will be working from home. 

That day was March 14, 2020. 3 months have passed since then. Situation is anything but normal and we are still working from home. Until when we will be working from home? Not sure, but at least until the situation becomes “normal.” 

While in the previous 3 months, we could not do anything to invent a cure to the pandemic, we were able to adopt ourselves to working from home, help thousands of small and medium businesses and enterprises efficiently run their operations and support services with cloud-based remote call center, and even enable organizations to help people who need healthcare and a helping hand during the tough time. 

It’s been an amazing journey full of learning, efforts, and uncertainty and it continues. As we celebrate a quarter of working from home at MyOperator, we want to share some milestones we have achieved and some lessons we have learned. 

We hope that our journey will inspire you to keep navigating through these tough times, feel joy in the good, and look for the brighter picture that we are painting for the future, together.

Milestones achieved while working from home

Empowering 30+ corona helplines

In the last quarter, we issued 30+ helplines to NGOs, government bodies, healthcare institutions, and regional groups. Helplines issued by MyOperator have helped connect people in need with healthcare professionals and volunteers. 
Among other prominent institutions, we issued helplines to All India Institute of Medical Sciences of New Delhi (AIIMS), Aayu App of MedCords which connect people living in remote areas with the healthcare professionals and medical stores, Rashtriya Sewa Bharati, and many more.

Relief for small businesses during lockdown

To help small businesses stay afloat in the Corona storm, we launched MyOperator lockdown relief offer. Under the offer, instead of a free 3-day trial, we are providing 2-month free services for our customers with annual commitment. 

We know that this is not a big relief package. Yet, during situations like lockdown, every penny counts and that matters. 

We are happy that many new businesses trying to shift to a remote working model found MyOperator suite of products very useful in providing remote customer and sales support and immensely benefited with our 2-month free services. 

Helping the community move forward

Situation of lockdown is novel for everyone and each one of us got a piece of unique experience and learnings. We believe that by sharing those experiences and learnings we can move forward; faster and together. 

To share our part of expertise, experiences, and insights with the community, we have been arranging regular webinars in partnership with other business leaders. 

In the last 3 months, we have conducted a total of 6 webinars all focused on enabling businesses to work from home, building relationships during lockdown, and how we can help along the way.

In our webinar sessions, we were joined by the likes of:

  • Amit Chaudhary, Co-Founder & CXO at Lenskart
  • Shreyans Mehta, Co-Founder & CEO at MedCords
  • Nitin Bajaj, Founder & CEO at EasyLeadz

With our webinars, we have reached hundreds of small business owners to support their business continuity and relationship building during the lockdown.

If you missed our live sessions, you can now see the recorded webinars available in MyOperator webinars playlist on YouTube.

Learnings gained while working from home

When we implemented a brief 3-page work from home policy back in March, we knew that it was not perfect! We’re absolutely right, with pleasure! 

In the last 3-months of working from home, we have:

  • Done ten(s) of experiments to work efficiently;
  • Adopted different work schedules – rigid as well as flexible;
  • Have tried and tested different remote working tools; and
  • Run multiple feedback surveys to listen to everyone in the team.

All those trials and experiments have left us with meaningful learnings and useful lessons that we want to share with you:

Chat, call, video — you need all of them

You must have come across hundreds of articles briefing you about the importance of communication. You know what? Most of that emphasis is true.

While working in the office, we never underestimated the importance of free communication. Now working from home, clear and timely communication seems more important than ever.  

To keep every member of the team on the same page, we use chat, call as well as video conferencing for all sorts of discussions. For real-time discussion that can wait a bit, we use chat. For things that need immediate attention from other team members, we use calls. For projects that need intense discussion, we use video call on Google meet. With screen sharing, explaining a project to other team members becomes really easy.

Casual and fun meetups are important

One downside of working from home is a feeling of isolation. That’s true. While working in the office, we used to be surrounded by all our teammates, at home we are working alone, in the company of our PCs. We can no longer ask our teammates to give company for a coffee or lunch break. No tapping on shoulders. No more funny pranks too!

Those fun perks and an aspect of personalized social life that working in an office setting provides is indisputably missing while working from home.

To bring back those fun moments and social life to remote working, we have tried our own ways. We have created a dedicated chat room for fun and informal chats. In our informal chat room, all employees can speak their mind, share the new joke they saw or fun video they watched.

In the past few weeks, our fun chat room has become the place for quick breaks, shared laughs, and fun insights for the entire team.

Some departmental teams have reserved Fridays for non-work chit-chats over video conferencing where we talk about everything and anything but work! Those non-work video calls have helped our team members connect at a deeper level, know each other better, and go for the weekend with a good note.  

Occasionally, we have also organized virtual meetups where all of 150+ members participated and chatted for more than an hour. Those meetups made us feel more connected and a part of one organization. Sure, we have more of such meetings coming in the weeks! 

Staying self-motivated can be challenging

When home is your office, even small responsibilities like waking up on time and getting ready for work can seem as challenging as rolling over a mountain! After all, we all face morning blews!

When we asked our employees about their top challenges of working from home, staying self-motivated was one of the top. 

Initially, it’s only fair to feel boring and exhausted when you have to work at home all day long, sitting in front of your computer. However, looking at the bigger picture and adding some structure to daily work routine can turn that boringness into excitement and make you feel inspired to do your job. Well, that’s a thing one can do at a personal level to stay motivated. [It’s also a topic for another post for another day!]

Keeping remote employees motivated to put in their best efforts takes more than a personal change. That’s where the need for organizational change kicks in. At MyOperator, we have embraced that need.

To help our team members stay on track and motivated, we are targeting personal achievements at a greater level. We have realized that to keep every employee engaged and motivated, we need to let them know how their efforts and achievements are contributing to the overall success of the company and recognize and celebrate their winning. 

While we already have performance appraisal measures in place, working from home has made us do it more comprehensively and frequently. 

Flexible work timing works well

During our office days as well, we kept the timing a bit flexible. All our employees were allowed to come in anytime from 09:00 to 11:00 and leave early or later as per their wish!

While we adapted working from home in March, we kept the same timing — log into your systems anytime from 09:00 to 11:00. 

In the feedback forms, our employees asked for more flexible timing. Well, we listened and made changes to our policy. Now, we have no fixed timing for work. Our employees have a 40-hour work week. It’s up to them when they want to work, where they want to work.

Since implementation of flexible timing, our employees have reported greater satisfaction. And yes, productivity has gone up too — That’s visible from the results we are getting.

From our experience — Flexible work timing works well!

Working from home actually works wonderful

Before Coronavirus was a thing, we were thinking to implement remote working or at least have some experiment with it. Well, out of apprehension or future possibility, we never did. 

It’s the need of the time that we shifted to work from home model in March to keep all our employees safe and keep our company, customers, and community going.

After a quarter of working from home, we have no hesitation to say that remote working can give wonderful results, if implemented the right way. 

Since we implemented remote working, all our employees have reported greater productivity, higher job satisfaction, and more time for other life pursuits. In 3 months, none of our operations have been on halt because of remote working. We have continued to provide the same—or even better— level of service to all our current and new customers.  

We need more of video meetings with faces

Our Founder & CEO Ankit Jain addressed it right:

Let’s talk about an issue which is not formal but still needs to be addressed. 

It’s switching off your video when in a video call. I know people do this because not all the time, you are in a clean/ presentable look. But every time you do it, you are encouraging others to do the same next time and soon accept it as part of the culture. But this is a problem. Why? 

One of the critical things we are missing is meeting people. When you meet people, you see their smiles, you see their expression, and you feel part of it. Remember how we hate when someone gives an expressionless look. Yeah, we all love to see faces and expressions on it. This is how humans have evolved and our fundamental needs are the same as food and air.  Remote working already pushes that to an edge but not seeing people push it off. 

You won’t realize it when you do it, but gradually you will be used to it and start hating video calls anyway or even remote working. You would hate talking to machines. I am probably saying it early, but I am more affected by it. I drive my energy from seeing people smile and confident. Even sadness helps us identify and probably ask or help. But when I do not see faces, I feel I am no longer working with amazing people but machines. It would take some extra effort to be presentable on screen, but it would be worth it. Let’s make smiles visible again.

For all people who want to support this cause can use #SYS as short for “show your smile” in video chats to respectfully encourage others to turn the camera on.

By now, you must have understood the importance of turning that camera of yours on.

Is working from home the future?

To be honest — we don’t know! At the moment, what we know is that during the last three months, working from home has been more than good for us all. Until the Coronavirus situation goes back to normal, we will keep working remotely and encourage all the businesses and people to do so. Until we find a cure to Corona, we all need to follow social distancing and remote working affords us that, leaving all other benefits and perks of working from home aside.

By the time the situation becomes normal and we get back the freedom to move like we did before, we will have more insights on and experiment with remote working that will drive the future of work location!

Until then, keep working from home, stay safe, and stay healthy.