2020 has been a roller-coaster ride — unexpected and unreal. As businesses and individuals, we all have learned and grown from the experience. Our priorities have never been more clearer before. The newfound respect for health and connections is both heart-warming and eye-opening.
For PromptCloud, this opened the doors to new ways of collaboration and interactions. We started questioning the need to be huddled in a closed space and realized that being in office was mostly irrelevant. It could be almost distracting at times to the productive work. It got us thinking as to what was driving this change? Was remote-working the right step to take? Are we happier and better as an organization?
Easier said than done.
Propelled by these thoughts and committed to bringing the right change, we engaged with a coach who rightly translated these questions into a cultural transformation exercise. What we initially thought would be brainstorming on company policy eventuated into designing a diverse task force to solidify our cultural ideology. An empowered task force that conducted listening sessions with our people and has conversations that illuminated our values — both current and aspirational. We even rearticulated our business vision, to include the human element along with the business goals. We called it the PromptCloud (PC) 2.0, Cultural Transformation exercise.
We did not want the leadership team to come up with a unilateral decision; it would probably work only for them then. We wanted to take this further, to engage our employees at all levels and become a tightly-knit workforce.
While we dwelled on these questions, we realized that we were clinging to our office space for no real reason. Being a technology company, with all our infrastructure on the cloud, we were simply following what other businesses were doing — tracking work by the time. We were making the same mistake of considering office presence as the majority contribution to one’s work, and setting 9-hour workdays that added pressure to the already stressed environment. We always hired not just regionally, but also those who were in our proximity to our office space. Why? We had multiple reasons back then:
- We didn’t want a policy that could be misused for lack of career maturity. Most of us thought, work from home was work “for” home, which was rather true in the occasional cases when WFH was allowed. This reinforced our policy against working from home
- We were a small team and had this weird conviction that we had to be physically present under one roof to collaborate and bond
Our employee listening sessions further strengthened our belief, with 95% of our workforce preferring to work remotely. We were more productive due to lesser distractions, were having a better quality of life, spending more time with the family, could spare themselves off the stress of commuting to the office, having a flexible workout regime, and were picking back up on their hobbies. Bonus, we didn’t have to get ready for work! The positive and constructive feedback made way to a stronger approach, policy, and the ultimate decision to become a “Remote and Dispersed Company” and usher PromptCloud 2.0.
Surprisingly, transitioning to remote was not very difficult for us for the same reasons above. There was no real need to be in one physical space. We already had the digital tools in place for remote working. Our customers have always been geographically dispersed, so we were used to impersonal interactions with them. What we had to change was our belief system. And the way our beliefs have been guiding our operational practices.
From the get-go, we were clear about eliminating the hybrid model, to avoid tagging those who came to office as VIPs. We have hence given up on all our newly leased, close to the heart, and lovely office space in Bangalore.
What does the shift to remote work mean to PromptCloud, our people, our customers, and our partners?
As an organization, we are devoted to invest in technological tools and develop seamless processes that make remote working easier for our employees and customers alike. Daily stand-ups, weekly updates, cross-team meetings, employee engagement sessions, 1:1s, recruitments — moving the everyday catch-ups to the online world was a task, and we’ve successfully adopted the right operational tools for it.
Our employees have been the driving force behind this call. The daily grind of commute, travel (read traffic) time, and the cost associated with working in prime city locations, is no more. Work is more structured, communications are flowing, and all of us can work from the comfort of our homes or any place else of our choice, post the pandemic. We are committed to providing the best support to make this work for our people. It translates into stronger infrastructure support, engagement activities, 360-degree communication, and more. PromptCloud employees are at the heart of this decision, and their continuous feedback will bring the best of this change.
Last few months, we have come up with exciting product updates, and more interesting features are in the pipeline. Our customer and partner interactions and service have never been affected, and remote or not, we are committed to keeping it this way.
We now have a well-charted plan, to support the goal of conscious communication at all levels. With no leverage of office space and a dispersed workforce, we found ourselves asking a new set of questions — how will teams share successes and failures? How can knowledge transfer happen smoothly and seamlessly? How to thrive in our sense of belonging and community spirit?
To our surprise, the remote model has helped us add the right amount of tools and processes (which were earlier hijacked by whiteboards) and align ourselves to the overarching goals.
From a company with zero work from home (WFH) to a transformed PC 2.0, where all of us have dispersed into a location of our choice, this pandemic has forced us to rethink our culture, reimagine our values, and rewire ways of working. And we dare complain. Personally, I believe we’ve grown as leaders; learning to sow the seeds, rather than trying to plant trees that no one would connect. It has been three exciting months of this transformation journey, and we are happy to keep sailing!
This blog was written by Arpan Jha, Co-Founder, PromptCloud Technologies.