Like most business organisations, PayCraft Solutions has also instituted work from home practices with use of remote work technology that is commercially available in the e commerce and tech infra world of cloud and networking. COVID-19 has made working from home a reality for our employees, but what is the future of remote work? We wish to share a brief perspective from our experience and prognosis thereof.

A little foresight:
In the initial phase of the outbreak in India, the paralysis of China set us thinking of what will happen in this country too. A quick huddle of the Senior management and decision was taken to procure enough laptops on hire for 3 months in case of an eventuality to work remotely from home, particularly for the software development team. These machines were hardened for use with firewalls to work in our secure environment and matching USB based internet access modems were also procured. Out communication network was also strengthened and secured by the IT infra team simultaneously. So, when the lockdown ultimately happened, we were ready unlike many other IT companies and avoided loss of productivity.

The tools helped
PayCraft had also instituted use of project management, system monitoring & collaboration tools like Redmine, Jira & Confluence in the normal IT business operations. These tools proved to be valuable for remote control & monitoring of work being done by multiple teams working on different projects and sprints. With less of disruptions, interruptions and no travel time weariness, we noticed a significant rise in output measured as number of lines of codes, timely completion of sprints etc. The IT support and operations team too worked without a hitch or client dissatisfaction round the clock like business as usual.

Internal Process Improvement
It had been an ardent desire of the PayCraft’s functional Directors on Board to bring in improvement in the planning & implementation process of Goal Setting, Budgeting, Performance Management etc. both in quality as well as timely execution. With office assistants to Board Directors confined to their homes and improved availability of quality time, we at PayCraft have been able to complete these key business processes in a much satisfactory way and almost on time. Of Course, collaborative meeting management software like Microsoft Teams, Google Duo etc. aided this exercise a lot.
The lull in client demand for change requests and field implementation has created the space and time for internal code reviews, optimizing IT infra and so on.

Learning and Development
In the past, senior management personnel at PayCraft, who comes with their rich professional experience, domain expertise and wisdom of business did not have the time at their disposal to share and impart knowledge in a formal and structured manner to their teams. This lockdown situation has given them quality time to interact and share knowledge through e class room sessions on weekly basis. Further, work related business strategies and proposals are now discussed in depth and decisions taken with full involvement of senior management.

Knowledge Management Improvement
The lockdown situation has been well utilised by our IT Infra team in improving the IT system that enhances the Knowledge management processes. They have ensured availability of Groupware systems like communication tools, conferencing tools and collaborative management tools for managing group activities within the organisation. They are working on migration of data warehousing system that supports the IT application and data mining process. These steps go a long way to help PayCraft better manage storage and retrieval of knowledge, improves collaboration etc.

The above measures may not solve all internal and external challenges to business as a whole brought in the wake of COVID pandemic we believe will certainly will prepare the organisation for being efficient and competitive in the difficult times expected in the short to medium term. We are also looking at cost saving measures in VPN network, rentals etc. based on the confidence generated on “work from home’ practices, usage of cloud based productivity apps instead of legacy Operating system based apps etc. are the positives takeaways from this experience.

Will current practices persist, or will it be back to business as usual?
This is a challenge that is applicable in general to all organisations that have learned to cope with remote working and management. While the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the utility of cloud-based, scalable products to ensure business continuity in organisations like PayCraft, lessons learnt may not completely transform our operations to accommodate a complete shift to work-from-home for many – instead we believe that the future of remote work will likely be a combination of “in-office” and “at-home” working days.

To be frank, at PayCraft we always had a mental barrier on “work from home” policy fearing productivity and security. This pandemic has led to a shift in trusting our employees and erasing those fears. In our thrice weekly business continuity plan meeting, among other things, we discuss a lot about our people, their work and personal well-being. These are portents of cultural change in the organisation for the good and we are proud to have adapted well to the change and challenges posed by this global pandemic.