Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Making virtual work work

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:14 AM

With the increase in cases of COVID-19 locally, many organisations are looking for solutions to maintain their day-to-day operational activities while adhering to mandates for social distancing as set out by the Government.

Virtual work is a solution that has been proposed to address some of these concerns. With measures in effect for those providing non-essential services to work from home over the next seven days, it is important that both state-based businesses and those in the wider community adopt best practices to ensure the effectiveness of this medium.

An entrepreneur, Kemal Brown, CEO of Digita Global Marketing Ltd, has been ahead of the curve since 2016, when he created a virtual policy for his firm. Brown has committed to sharing his firm’s expertise to help businesses go virtual effectively during these uncertain times. Digita has also created a free guide to assist organisations to streamline their approach while reducing the associated learning curve.

“This mini-guide includes best practices we’ve learned at Digita, helpful communication and operational tools, industries best suited for virtual work, performance management tips, and potential drawbacks for a remote work environment. As one of the pioneers of digital work locally, we believe it is important to share insights that can dramatically change how we do business not only for today, in light of the virus, but for the foreseeable future. Virtual work and digital technologies open a whole new world of productivity and potential for the prudent business owner. The guide is designed as an introduction to help reduce the potential friction, cushion employees, and clearly outline the benefits of a virtual environment so we can get back to business.” In addition to helping to keep employees and clients safe, establishing this digital connection will help certain businesses to see a pathway to global business opportunities in the contexts of both recruiting talent and reaching new customers. Global companies such as Amazon have shown that the modern consumer is virtual. Businesses need to adapt, and while these are unfortunate circumstances, this is a great time to learn out of necessity.

Brown also has his finger on the pulse of the ongoing conversations on the future of work on an international scale, being a member of the Global Shapers of the World Economic Forum.

“The discussion on working virtually is not only a timely response but a much-needed consideration. Jamaica is primed to use this as an opportunity to transform our economic landscape and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.

Benefits of virtual work

Brown commends businesses already taking the steps to go digital. “While your industry does impact the effectiveness of virtual work, it has proven to be more effective in terms of keeping teams engaged and accountable because of tools that allow the seamless tracking of performance and productivity. Even in simple terms, staying home eliminates the time and financial cost of commuting. If we annualise the two hours saved travelling back and forth, based on an average of 250 workdays, this represents an additional 20 days of work. An entire month! That’s powerful,” he said.

While it is clear that not every industry is suited for virtual work, within every industry, there are roles that can be completed digitally. Therefore, employers should explore and map their organisation to see where optimisations can be made.

Virtual work has also proven to:

n be cost-effective for companies,

n reduce costs for employees,

n allow access to wider markets,

n enhance employee inclusivity, and

n enhance work-life balance.

Organisations wishing to access this free resource should visit https://digitaglobal.com/​virtual-work-guide

The company is also offering one complimentary graphic design to be used as an advisory message for the first 10 businesses to download the mini-guide.

“Effective communication is of the utmost importance in this time, and we want to help businesses update their customers, stakeholders, and staff effectively,” Brown said.