HR Tech Digi Tech


Written by: Shubhra Aggarwal on  Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

“Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adopt and integrate new technology into our work”- Sukant Ratnakar

Workplace technology is growing exponentially. From the industrial age to current day, technology has changed manifolds. Not only has it helped in increasing productivity, it has also made “Work from anywhere” super easy and a reality.

Due to modern interpersonal communication technology, employees communicate more clearly and that’s leading to better results.

The onset of the global pandemic reshuffled the world of work. Businesses digitized themselves and shifted to working remotely overnight, all thanks to technology. With flexible workforces and mass adoption of remote and hybrid work models, many untapped talents are now shining bright. With talent not being restricted by geographical boundaries, both employers and employees are participating in the “Gig Economy.” Moving on an exponential growth trajectory, the gig economy workforce is projected to increase 3X from 7.7 million in 2021 to 23.5 million in 2030.

With every pros, comes the cons and the same is true for technology.

From separating employees by screens creating miscommunications, to the world of automated voicemails that can make customers upset, many believe that “Old is Gold.”

At the same time, with greater flexibility due to Work from Home or freelancing in the gig economy, people are often working overtime, over the weekend and even while sick. This has disbalanced the “Work life balance” and has mentally affected many people. From burnout, insomnia to depression, all have risen with more stress.

According to Technology and Innovation Report 2021, every spurt of progress has been associated with sharper inequality between countries. New technologies can have severe downsides if they outpace a society’s ability to adapt. To benefit from frontier technologies, countries need to promote their use, adoption, and adaptation, while addressing their potential adverse effects. 

Moreover, International cooperation should: 

Build stronger national capacities in STI,

Smooth technology transfer,

Increase women’s participation,

Improve foresight and technological assessment and promote inclusivity.

Moreover, Policymakers should direct technological change towards meeting societal needs and reducing inequalities; developing countries should adopt frontier technologies while continuing to diversify their production bases by mastering existing technologies; social protection systems should be strengthened to provide safety nets to workers who may lose their livelihoods.

Everything is a boon and a brain, it depends on us how to take it. To make technology a boon, effective communication, connectivity, being flexible but not insensible is the key! We must master the art of balancing our work and our life, otherwise we might not enjoy the super delicacy that the technology provides!

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HR Tech

Modern Learner & the Organisation

Written by Anupama Lal on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

The emerging context –

Employees certainly consider learning to be an integral part of the value proposition organisations can offer. They want to build portable skills that will be useful for them, not only in the flow of work currently, but which will also add to their profile for future opportunities. They want employers to be secure in the knowledge that investments made in their skill development will benefit the organization here and now and an another organization later. At the same time, they want learning to be a social experience – fun and engaging.

Employers also want to quickly and effectively upskill and reskill their workforce to meet the requirements of this VUCA world. They want to be able to assess current skills levels and build a capability map for skills required in the future, given how quickly skills are becoming obsolete.

Readiness gap –

Are organisations ready to tackle these emerging trends? More than 50% organisations believe their learning approach is not positioned to meet future work needs. Scrap learning (the gap between training that is delivered but not applied on the job) ranges from 45% to 80%. Learner engagement scores continue to pose a challenge – infact with the pandemic, learner engagement using virtual platforms has seen mixed responses – while it has helped build scale, it has not been the best way to nurture skills.

The role of technology –

Technology is a key enabler in helping create an agile and adaptable learning experience.  In the past, deploying learning technology meant setting up an LMS. Now, most organizations have a bouquet of technologies that include next generations, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), Learning Content Management Systems (LCMs), Learning Record Systems (LRS), microlearning platforms, simulation tools, and more. The pandemic accelerated action with more than 45% companies making investments in new learning technology.

However, organisations need to be cautious of what they invest in and why? Often, investments are made in the new and shiny in demand products and platforms, but little thought is given to how these platforms will interact with one another to create a seamless experience for learners and all other stakeholders. Research suggests that many organisations are still shy in making the right investments in learning technology or under use the platforms that have been bought e.g. about one third learners say their learning system can curate content and just under half say the system provides opportunities for coaching and mentoring. Further, organisations and learning teams do not have mechanisms to source learning data that will help understand skill gaps and map future needs of the organisation.

What next –

To address the emerging needs of learners and organisations, it is time to get effective in bringing technology, data, and brain science together to ensure the learning eco-system is well-integrated while keeping learners at the center. These are what are called ‘Adaptive Learning Systems’. Using AI, learning products and platforms should be talking to one another and creating a personalized learning road map for each learner. Taking a leaf out of modern-day marketing and consumer behaviour patterns, learning teams and systems should be immersed in data on how learners are behaving, what do they like and learn. It is important that the system speaks to the learner directly, links them to others who are learning about similar topics. The future of skill development is anchored in studying the learner closely and helping them create a personalized approach to career development. This can happen only with the right technology investments and keeping learners and stakeholders at the center to collaborate with one another. 

HR Tech

Working reset to “REMOTE FIRST”

Written by JJ Chai on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Technology and virtual ways of working have made “REMOTE FIRST” way of working possible. The biggest proof being, almost the entire global economy has been able to survive because of this reset.

This new way of working requires some basic rules which every organisation, especially a start-up should follow to keep this sustainable and continuous.

Digital fluency

This may seem obvious, and to some extent, already a requirement for any knowledge industry job today. However, in a “REMOTE FIRST” environment, especially in a start-up, there’s no IT department helpdesk to call to fix up laptop or your microphone. Team members who can figure out how to troubleshoot, reboot or do basic configuration of their technology are much more productive than those who are typically reliant on an ‘IT person’ to fix things.

We see the ability to quickly learn the tech tools, whether collaborative cloud documents (no save to laptop and email please…), chat software or video calls as an important indicator of a successful remote-first employee. These are foundational skills, in some ways more important than even English language fluency.

High empathy

As a team with over 16 different nationalities, with different styles of communication in both written and spoken forms, we need team members who have high levels of empathy. It’s far too easy to misinterpret the tone and intent of messages or annoy others by setting up meetings at odd times of day due to time zone differences. 

We find that people who have a strong sense of empathy (e.g. as a simple indicator, they would indicate both parties’ time zone when scheduling meetings), to be much better adept to dealing with communication challenges and being effective team members in a remote-first environment. Some indicators, like experience with working across time zones, or having been well travelled (with a strong traveller’s point of view, vs a tourist point of view), are good signs in this respect.

Clarity of communication

This is true for any regular organisation but is made even more important in “REMOTE FIRST” organisations. With less opportunities to re-clarify at the water cooler or other interactions in the office, the ability to communicate well in writing and verbally are more important than ever. We appreciate structured communication and concise verbal communication.

The challenge to assess these three characteristics, and also other signals are also made tougher in a video-meeting set up. I do miss the days when I could do the coffee cup interview test. In-person at the office, I’d go with the candidate to the pantry, help get them a cup of beverage, bring them along to the interview room, and observe whether they later offered to help take it back to the pantry or assume ‘someone else would do it’!

We founded Rainforest in the midst of the Covid pandemic in early 2021. As an e-commerce aggregator that buys and builds e-commerce brands, growing the brands globally, we saw an opportunity to make the most of the pandemic situation by going “REMOTE FIRST”, i.e. we predominantly worked remotely, outside of a fixed office environment. As we grew, we took this further, and now have no office at all in any location. Our employees can work from anywhere.

We learnt that while most candidates that applied to us say they are comfortable to be part of a “REMOTE FIRST” team, the above characteristics stood out to be better indicators than others of being a successful “REMOTE FIRST” team member at Rainforest. We continue to look for these three traits to ensure they would thrive in our organisation.