How can we be apart and stay engaged?
Changing the norms of physically being close and working in the same location has allowed all employees to feel the sense of ownership and responsibility.
Change in the business environment is predictable to any organization, and adopting to it can be challenging to some and easier for others. There is no better time to test change in businesses than what we are all going through right now!
The COVID‑19 pandemic has impacted all business sectors. Some survived, and others are still struggling, and the only advice all medical experts agree on is social distancing. Living apart and avoiding physical contact is necessary for survival. All businesses had to adopt to the new strategy, including ours.
Aramco quickly adapted to the medical advice to ensure its employees’ safety without impacting the business. An immediate plan was put in place to adopt a remote business practice, ensuring that most office workers can work from home and avoid physical contact as much as possible.
Questions were raised, “How are we supposed to run the business while our employees are away?” and “What if we needed something urgent and our employees are not physically present to answer?” There was no comforting answer except that we have to adapt to a change for the sake of our employees and communities’ safety, and we have to be creative to ensure business continuity plans are in place and activated.
In less than a month’s time, all concerns were gone, as the plan worked. A solid IT supported VPN allowed all employees to access the Aramco network securely and efficiently. Furthermore, with the utilization of online conference and instant messaging tools like Skype as the official business communication channel, everyone was pleased with the results. Business meetings are conducted virtually at all levels, instant messaging between all employees became the common communication practice, and presentations, seminars, and training courses are all available with easy access no matter where you are.
Some organizations have even taken this chance to introduce flexible working hours, focusing on tasks completed timely and accurately, and providing their employees the chance to work at their own chosen time during the day.
Working remotely can also increase an employee’s productivity. A Stanford study has found that employees working from home are, on average, 13% more productive. The 2-year study showed how flexibility has positively affected employees’ productivity, saving commuting time and being flexible has proven to be a success.
Changing the norms of physically being close and working in the same location made us more engaged despite working apart and remotely from each other. This new practice allowed all employees to feel the sense of ownership and responsibility.