5 Industry Greats Reflect on How to Achieve Better Productivity in a Hybrid Working Model

Starting from smaller groups to enhancing video software for online meetings, to coordinating with extra energy, IT leaders are trying and implementing various strategies to achieve optimal productivity in a Hybrid working model. With that said, a few leading CIOs have shared their valuable thoughts. CIOs are of the thought that teamwork varies. Some teamwork might be based on building relationships. While some roles could be directly related to engineering and creativity. Hence, every team leader is independent in deciding whether what enhances their team’s productivity. Today, 5 of the IT industry’s great IT professionals of ASEAN region will mention their plans and
strategies to counter the upcoming challenges. They will talk about how productivity is going to be achieved in a hybrid setting. Here we go!

1. AIA, CTO, Biswa Misra
Productivity peaks when everyone participates in whiteboard animations and infer the non-verbal cues through body language and gestures, he mentioned. Also, Biswa mentioned that they are working to incorporate technology so that even remote workers can become a part of such sessions and give their valuable suggestions as they are also an important asset for the company. CIOs are currently getting involved in similar experiments as the hybrid working model is becoming the new normal. Research is taking place in order to find the best team structure that has been successful in implementing a hybrid environment so that the company can replicate it. However, the culture, innovation, creativity, and mentorship will be kept intact that’s usually carried out in person.

Their new work policy provides flexibility to the workers to achieve success in their daily tasks according to the work in which they feel more relaxed, producing high productivity. He mentioned that they do not have anything available in the written. It’s totally up to the employees to manage the mix and be available in the office when it’s needed. It’s important to highlight the moments that are crucial and ensure availability around those moments so that the company knows your worth. Leadership is an exclusive trait that can win hearts and bring laurels to organizations. IT leaders need to value this trait and make sure that they develop this trait. Therefore, in order to be more flexible in communication, IT managers need to be available in the office premises. He said that passing a smile while walking in the office, stopping for a while to converse with the juniors, checking someone when they need help are little gestures. But, these little gestures turn out to be a big deal eventually. Nonetheless, things have changed now as more and more companies are moving towards hybrid environments. In a virtual world, you can’t take help from small gestures as you need to be pretty on
point just to make sure that your idea is received rightfully by the listeners. He said that every employee needs to be objective while engaged in a video conference. But, the physical office environment is too different. In such an environment, you are available to prove and explain your point again and again. Plus, you are able to take out time for small but warm gestures.

2. HUYNH THANH PHONG, OBE, Group Chief Executive Officer, FWD Insurance
Companies that are offering employees the choice of working from home have found out that younger employees are enthusiastic to come to physical offices and interact face-to-face. It’s always better to manage small groups. Plus, if any conflict arises, it becomes easier and quicker to resolve that conflict in a small group rather than resolving the conflict in a larger group. In a small group, the opinions are limited and a conclusion can be derived very quickly and without much effort. But, a large group is always very stubborn. It takes a lot of time to reach a conclusion as opinions are quite diverse. So, she rightfully agreed with the concept of smaller work teams, especially in a hybrid environment so that decisions are executed quickly without wasting time in endless discussions. Moreover, she said that in a hybrid working model, employees should act more rather than just talk. CIOs tend to believe that smaller groups are more effective and productive as they listen better. She said that she managed to keep a small IT group that made the company more agile and swift in taking important decisions. She also mentioned that many companies are of the thought to keep as many stakeholders as possible, their company relies on smaller groups and cuts out the employees who are not necessarily meant for certain meetings. Furthermore, she added that rather than keeping a lot of people in conferences, the important thing is to only keep those people who are mandatory.

3. Elaine Tan, Executive Director, ASEAN Foundation
Elaine Tan mentioned that they have squeezed a lot of innovation due to definite reasons. But, the creative collision hasn’t produced any accidental innovation or it has been less. Companies are looking forward to implementing a hybrid working model. But, they actually are unaware of how such an environment goes about. Cross-functional teams do most of the work. Hence, it’s a collective effort and none of the employees pull any task on their own. Technology does help, but a collaborative effort tops it all. A big room or top-notch technology might be useful but that’s not necessarily everything. He added, that a number of organizations have worked in a complete hybrid mode. Therefore, everyone can expect cultural change and height of uncertainties in the coming future. He exclaimed that a balance needs to be maintained between a hybrid working place and a physical office environment for things to work out in the best possible manner. So, it’s vital to understand the connection between technology and humans as the combination will bring success and creativity will boost. In such a situation, there’s a significant need to develop an optimistic and welcoming mindset to absorb new things in order to adopt the fresh norms. Furthermore, he said that human elements and technological elements must be differentiated at all costs. He said that technology is always proving to be helpful in achieving objectives. However, no technology will ever be able to replace humans. So, humans must be given their due recognition.

4. Scott Wightman, British High Commissioner to Singapore
It does take a lot of time. So, it’s better to be physically together rather than sitting in front of the screen for hours. However, just as the circumstances change, the rules can be changed too, adding greater flexibility. After a year when the company allowed the employees to come to the offices after the relaxation in the SOPs, he found out that 70% of the IT employees who work regularly in the office have less than 5 years of experience, creating a void to motivate the upcoming IT youngsters. He said that in such a case, it’s never discovered that how to do things and get the work done. Hence, it’s vital to have someone behind the back who could answer the questions of the employees. And someone who is always available to teach a method or two. Therefore, senior employees are experienced individuals who can take the responsibility as they are aware of how to sort out things. Solutions are always available when juniors work in coordination with seniors. This is how raw and fresh talents meet the experience and produce wonders in the field of ever-growing Information Technology (IT). Meetings that include employees available in different parts of the country are already remote, even if some of the participants are physically available. He mentioned that it’s an optimal way of aligning participation.

Moreover, the meetings that are extended for more than half a day should be held in person. He moreover added that at the current moment, there’s a need to equip young individuals. Teaching, mentoring, and guiding them towards the future is the main aim rather than enforcing power and influence. So, for every fresh talent, a manager should be available to teach him/her the dos and don’ts. He avoids directives on the time when his team of 200 workers must be available in the office premises each week. Instead, he asked his senior group managers to highlight how work should be done in order to be more productive. Every manager came up with similar strategies. They suggested that performance reviews, appraisals, incentive discussions, and promotions are the topics that should be discussed in person.

5. Wouter van Wersch, President& CEO, GE ASEAN
Wouter van Wersch indicated that their company is looking to provide a similar experience to each and every attendee. Also, he mentioned that they are trying to create an environment that provides the look and feel of a remote working environment so that communication improves. He added that the main problem with remote workers is that they start to dislike back-to-back meetings that are actually very lengthy. Their concentration level drops by miles. So, their team is working towards developing technology to make virtual workers feel at ease. The renowned software, Slack is developing audio and video messaging app through which short messages can be conveyed at any point in time without scheduling hefty messages that are the main reason for slow productivity and boredom. Together they’ve formed a transformation office known as “the glue” in order to increase the productivity levels of the IT teams. The people sitting in this office are responsible for strategic projects as they coordinate to bring changes in the organization with a clear picture available right in the front. Digital technologies that were already available before the pandemic will help today and tomorrow. However, in order to effectively use these technologies in a hybrid working model, CIOs need to fine- tune them. Video calls and communication apps will need to be set up according to the requirements of a hybrid model. In a meeting where there are equal attendees from both the categories; virtual and physical, the situation becomes a lot complex and the meeting cannot be held smoothly. So, in order to counter this issue, cyber experts in every nook and corner are working to revolutionize technology to suit both categories.

The cyber engineers are developing technology to allot a particular frame to every physical attendee, coming in a conference room just like a frame is provided to those employees who are available in a remote environment. The Bottom Line Looking ahead towards the future, the leaders are going to be accumulated with tons of work. While
streamlining the hybrid environment and managing the return of the employees to the offices, CIOs and their team are up against grave challenges. Nonetheless, a great strategy can prove to bring success in the journeys of CIOs, slowly but surely.