Friday, 27th March marks the completion of Planlogic’s second week of being a fully remote operation, with our experience – for the most part – being a positive one. The safety of our staff is our highest priority, and we are grateful for their contribution in supporting our advisers during this very difficult time. We value the efforts of the Sri Lankan Government and all those involved in helping curb the impact of COVID-19, and will take all necessary action as a company to support these initiatives.
While the shift to WFH has not been an easy one, we learnt a few key things along the way that helped make this transition smoother.
Speculate & Be Prepared to Execute
Staying abreast of the situation from the onset played a key role in preparing us for the crisis. Closely monitoring the impact of the virus in both Australia and Sri Lanka allowed us to anticipate the worst-case scenario and start work on a contingency plan. By the time the first Sri Lankan was diagnosed with the virus, we had established the plan and made progress on the groundwork for execution. While there was still a lot of work to be done, staying informed allowed us to respond to the situation much faster than usual.
Addressing the situation from a long-term lens as opposed to a short-term fix also proved useful when the situation escalated faster than expected. Our preparation for the crisis began around a week prior to the Sri Lankan government declaring the first holiday on Monday, March 16th. During this time, we worked with our service providers to ensure that we could carry out our operation remotely. We set up a virtual private network, allocated and delivered computers to each employee, and more recently, launched a company-issued remote internet connection for the entire team. We also constantly carry out tests to ensure that all the introduced systems and processes work smoothly to ensure no interruptions to our daily operations.
Effective Communication is Key
Being informed about the situation also allowed us to formulate an effective internal and external communications strategy.
We started off by first communicating to the team the changes that were likely to take place given the situation. We then informed our advisers that we would implement a WFH policy to safeguard our staff and ensure the continuity of our operations – allowing us to prioritise workflows in the instance that we faced any obstacles during the transition.
We strive to follow a robust communications process even when operating remotely. Internally, we conduct daily management meetings on the status of our workflows, team requirements to deliver remotely and further actions to address the crisis. Additionally, the entire team receives a video update from leadership at the start of each week to keep them informed about the upcoming plan of action.
Providing our advisers with a smooth flow of communication – similar to our in-office setting – remains a top priority. Our team leads constantly update advisers about their workflows, while also informing them about any strategic level decisions made by Planlogic’s management in response to the crisis.
A Continued Focus on Data Security
Our greatest challenge in transitioning to WFH was the potential impact it would have on our data security measures – and this became our highest priority during the transition.
Currently, all employees work on a virtual private network through a secure internet connection provided by Planlogic on company-issued computers. Additionally, all workflows continue to pass through Planlogic’s servers and firewalls, with all other existing authentication requirements remaining in place. As we move forward, we will continue to explore options that will increase our data security standards given the remote working operation.
Business as Usual
In addition to the expected challenges of distractions and disruptions, there are also other obstacles that you tend to face during WFH. For example, extended periods in a remote working environment can become monotonous and missing the company of your colleagues can lead to demotivation.
We have witnessed these factors come into play over the past two weeks, and have taken measures to continue all our extra activities that would take place on a normal day at the office. Our management learning sessions now happen via video conference and we are also exploring options to carry out our company-wide weekly growth sessions remotely. We believe that successfully transitioning to a remote operation involves adopting all practices that would happen at an office – extra activities included.
WFH post COVID-19
While there is still uncertainty around when the pandemic will end, our transition to a remote structure has got us (and certainly many others) thinking about the possibility of WFH in the future. While working from office does have its benefits – and while it may not be possible for some professions to work remotely – WFH does have its advantages. From fewer work-related distractions to zero commuting time, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many businesses revisiting the prospect of remote working structures, which can be effective from both efficiency and cost-related standpoints. As we continue to experiment with WFH, establishing this practice in some aspects of the business is definitely something we will be exploring as a company.