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Coronavirus: IT Companies Counter the Pandemic with Remote Development

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of the coronavirus a pandemic. Despite a positive trend in fighting the viral threat in China, it has now spread throughout the whole world. Stock markets and world economies react to infectious cases reported in different countries.

Quarantine or home office?

Today, the virus is spreading all over the world. In mid-March 2020, the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus reached over 150,000. Numerous economic problems affecting all spheres of business have been revealed amid the global threat. These problems are directly related to the distribution of human resources. An effective way to combat the virus is to minimize the possibility of its extension. This means isolating people, cancelling mass events, closing cinemas and factories, and recommending against public transport and communal office work. Creating conditions for remote work is the only right decision for the commercial sector in this situation to overcome the crisis caused by such pandemic.     

Artezio CEO Pavel Adylin believes that transition to remote work is a modern trend, and not just a response to COVID-19. He believes it could make people consider a new model of work.    

“IT companies nearly always use practices of remote software development. Due to high competition in the labor market, it became a difficult struggle for qualified employees in a particular city or country to find work in their area. The industry now, for the most part, employs people remotely, regardless of their location. It erases a competition problem and at the same time speeds up building a team because it is easier to search for specialists in several cities or countries simultaneously, rather than in one place,” says Pavel Adylin.

Anna Znamenskaya, Chief Growth Officer at Rakuten Viber notes that over the years it has been discussed that a lot of companies are gradually refusing traditional office work.

“And it has nothing to do with situational reasons. Remote working has its benefits: employers can save on renting office space, providing employees with lunches, etc. At the same time, employees don’t waste their time on the daily commute or breaks with co-workers. The world IT giants like Apple and Google realized it long ago, and we should note that both these corporations are doing quite well. So why can’t others work in the same way? The most important thing is to identify employees who are able to perform their professional duties away from leadership. This is the task of the HR Department and a question of time – if an employee is able to prove they are an efficient worker regardless of environment. If this is found to be true, there is almost no difference from working in an office,” she says.

Artezio HR Director Iryna Dyachenko believes that IT companies have been implementing remote working practices for quite a long time. The coronavirus has just made the convenience of this method obvious.

“The practice of working from home to some extent exists in companies without the raging virus, which doesn’t stop their operations. Therefore, in a situation when there is a high risk of deterioration of the epidemiological environment, it makes sense to allow the maximum amount of people to work from home. It prevents people from using public transport where the risk to catch the virus is much higher than in the office. In most IT companies, the required infrastructure naturally allows for remote work. The most important thing is that employees should have well-equipped working places that won’t reduce their labor performance. In my opinion, it depends on the person, whether they will be able to self-organize. Some people introduce a kind of home ritual – when you put on green sneakers, then you are at work. After you take them off at 7pm, that means you are at home. In some situations, work may be disturbed by kids or family members, then, of course, the working efficiency will decrease. An ideal situation is when a person can organize a working process in a separate room where no one will distract them from work, but not work in the kitchen having tea with the family,” says Iryna Dyachenko.

IT companies – work with no risk for health

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that IT companies respond faster to situations that threaten employee health. While other companies may find it difficult to allow their employees to work from home, the IT sector has been ready for the quarantine a long time ago. For a significant amount of time, companies have had the implementation of tools for distant access to working resources. Today the demand for cloud solutions and remote work services is predicted to increase.

In the case of a pandemic, an even larger number of people will have to stay at home and work remotely. For this reason,  there will most likely be an upsurge in company demand for organizing remote working places for employees.    

“For companies that have the infrastructure for remote work, it won’t be difficult to shift at least a part of their employees to work from home. If a company is able to provide remote access to corporate e-mails, shareable resources, document management, such a decision won’t lead to large costs. In tech companies, the trend for remote work has existed for a long time, the mechanisms for effectively providing such work have been developed and successfully applied. The efficiency of the work itself mostly depends on employees, their responsibilities, ability to adjust to working processes at home and avoid distraction,” says Maxim Burtikov, Director at RIPE NCC.

It turns out that IT companies today could contribute to disease prevention, believes Artezio CEO Pavel Adylin.

“Remote software development is at the core of our business. For this reason, we talk about distance work not just in relation to measures for providing the quarantine that in many countries has not been enforced yet. Yes, IT companies are in a favorable position and are able to quickly move working processes beyond local offices. When we decided to allow the majority of our employees to work remotely, we were confident that the work on projects would continue with no loss in quality. We apply a wide range of tools, available to other companies as well, to maintain the working efficiency on the required level. Among them, remote testing equipment, distributed knowledge bases, audio and video communication means, task management and control systems. For us, a possibility for remote work is not a drastic measure during the epidemic, but a tool that is applied daily. Today there are 7 development offices in the company distributed in different cities of Eastern Europe. Project teams can be formed with specialists who are based several thousands of kilometers from each other, and it doesn’t affect working efficiency in any way.”

What to do next?

Experts say that the right decision would not be to react to a situation, but to foresee it and adapt to changing conditions.

“If you want to be ahead of your competitors, then use this advantage – an opportunity to work remotely. Of course, you will have to adjust your business processes, but as a result, everyone will win. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, you will need to think of what works for you best and make reasonable decisions, not just copy someone else’s experience,” notes RIPE NCC top manager. 

Does it make sense today to transfer employees to distance work in advance during the current spread of the coronavirus? Will it help in fighting against the pandemic?

Different countries have their own epidemiological situations, and it is hard to give a universal response to this question. The attention should not be to shifting employees to work from home, but to preventing the spread of the disease. It is possible to introduce a company practice of examining employees to identify people with symptoms of a respiratory infection and let them go home timely, allowing working from home.

However, many business owners have concerns for employee health without such checkups and have moved working processes online instead of requiring in-office work.

Generally speaking, it is not difficult to organize remote work for employees of a small company. With the right IT solutions, this type of work could flourish. The main question is how to maintain work efficiency? It’s necessary to take into account requirements for easy communication, security, availability of collaboration services and system stability tools. 

Yulia Medvedeva, Emigrantista Founder, lives in Italy, a country that is no stranger to the devastating effects of the coronavirus. She works remotely for the IT company and sees that distance work is a good thing today, despite its potential scare.

“I live in Italy and work for the company remotely. I think that distance work is our common future that hasn’t come yet just because people can’t work remotely and are afraid of it. We lack skilled managers who would be able to set up a remote team, we don’t know how to build processes and communication. The coronavirus quarantine is a great opportunity to practice.

In Italy, since the beginning of March, many offices have moved their staff to “smart working” mode: they’ve provided them with work computers and are allowing work from home. It was a tough decision for many top managers. Moreover, many of them still have not been able to make this decision, and their employees continue to work in offices. There haven’t been any complaints among those who took this precautionary step—productivity has remained steady. I have strong hopes that after the end of the quarantine in Italy, a new virus will spread – the virus of remote work. After several weeks working in such a way, employees and managers will find it difficult to get back into office mode, and it will be even more difficult to forget the advantages remote work offers,” she adds.

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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Business

The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Social Skills in Business

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Effective communication and strong relationships are essential for success in the workplace. One factor that can greatly influence these qualities is emotional intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ. EQ refers to the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Research has shown that individuals with high levels of EQ are better equipped to handle stress, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others (Chamorro-Premuzic & Sanger, 2016).

Research has consistently shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important predictor of job performance and success in the workplace. EQ is comprised of a set of skills that allow individuals to recognize, understand, and regulate their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In addition, individuals with high EQ are better able to communicate effectively, build relationships, and navigate complex social situations. As a result, they are often viewed as effective leaders and collaborators, and are more likely to achieve their personal and professional goals.

In fact, a number of studies have demonstrated the significant impact that EQ has on job performance and success. For example, one study of 85 upper-level managers found that those with higher EQ scores were rated as more effective leaders by their subordinates (Law, Wong, & Song, 2004). Another study of 151 employees found that those with higher EQ were more likely to be promoted within their organization over a five-year period (Carmeli, Brueller, & Dutton, 2009). These findings highlight the importance of EQ in the workplace and suggest that developing these skills can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and organizations.

According to a study conducted by TalentSmart, a leading provider of EQ assessments, EQ is responsible for 58% of success in all job types (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009). In contrast, IQ only accounts for about 4% of success in the workplace. This suggests that EQ is a crucial skill set for individuals in any professional field. Fortunately, EQ is a skill that can be developed and honed over time with practice and awareness.

There are several key components of EQ that are particularly important for success in the workplace. These include: 

Self-Regulation: This refers to your capacity to recognize and control your emotions. Sometimes treating them when they arise may be necessary. Understanding how to manage your anger is essential. However, it can also cover how to control the feelings you’ll experience.

Self-Awareness: This implies recognizing and understanding your own feelings. Do noisy places make you nervous? Do other people talking over you make you angry? Knowing these truths about yourself shows that you are working on your self-awareness. Being conscious of yourself is necessary for this phase, which can be more complex than it sounds.

Socialization: This category focuses on your capacity to manage social interactions and direct relationships. It doesn’t entail dominating others but knowing how to work with others to achieve your goals. This could entail presenting your ideas to coworkers, leading a team, or resolving a personal disagreement.

Motivation: Strong motivators include external forces like money, status, or suffering. Internal motivation, however, plays a significant role in Goleman’s concept. By doing so, you demonstrate your ability to control your cause and initiate or continue initiatives of your own volition rather than in response to external demands.

Empathy: It’s equally critical to be sensitive to others’ feelings. This may entail learning to identify different emotional states in individuals — for example, can you tell the difference between someone at ease and someone anxious? — but it also requires comprehension of how other people may react to their current situation. Empathy is one of the essential traits in business and business leadership.

A thought leader in this space, Michael Ventura has built a career advising organizations on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. In his book, Applied Empathy, Ventura highlights the value of empathy in business and provides strategies for developing and applying this skill set. With two decades of experience as a leader, facilitator, and educator, Ventura’s work has made impact in with prestigious institutions such as Princeton University and the United Nations as well as corporate clients such as Google and Nike.

Through his work, Ventura advises leaders to focus on the development of EQ in order to help individuals improve their communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, ultimately leading to greater success in the workplace. Experts like Ventura continue to support the growing body of research on the value of EQ in business, and the evidence that organizations who invest in the EQ of their teams help to create a more empathetic and successful professional environment.

And it’s worth noting that EQ isn’t just important for individual success in the workplace, but also for overall organizational success. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that EQ was a better predictor of success than IQ or technical skills in the workplace, and that teams with higher levels of EQ tend to be more effective and productive (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999). By cultivating a culture of empathy and emotional intelligence, organizations can improve their overall performance and create a more positive work environment for their employees.

In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a crucial component of success in the workplace, and individuals and organizations alike should prioritize the development of these skills. The ones that do not only develop a leading edge in their category, but also become a meaningful place to work for their teams. And in today’s rapidly changing talent landscape, the retention of highly capable, emotionally intelligent leaders is one of the greatest keys to unlocking success.

References:

Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D., & Rhee, K. S. (1999). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), Handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 343-362). Jossey-Bass.

Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Sanger, M. N. (2016). Does employee happiness matter? Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 3(2), 168-191.

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