Remote working brings about a lot of changes for employees and customers. Isn’t just a shift from in-person to video chat, but about creating and preserving a workplace culture that amplifies the day to day experience.
In our current interview series, we take a closer look at the various aspects of working remotely. How do our subsidiaries in different countries deal with the current situation? How does it change teamwork? We gained valuable insights from our team in India! With the opening of our office in Chennai in February 2019, we have closed one of the last gaps in the ranks of our Asian locations. Since then, we have been serving the Indian automotive aftermarket with digitized and standardized data for the whole value chain.
How do you organize your teamwork?
“These days, a huge array of collaboration tools makes it really easy to stay productive and connected from home. We tried to strip the tool stack down to a minimum. Our boss, Vats Srivatchan, uses the online Outlook calendar to manage the team and a task manager to organize himself and the team. For communication and staying in touch we all benefit from Microsoft Teams Meeting. We prefer Skype for Business and GTM to talk to our customers. All team members need to ensure that their internet connection works quickly, securely, and efficiently. By using remote working software, we can access our systems and files on network drives and continue working with desktop applications remotely. They centralize communication and make it easier for everyone at TecAlliance to access assets, like documents and spreadsheets”, says Suresh Venkatachalam, Technical Consultant at TecAlliance India.
Do you have a recipe for success?
“The most important element in an all-remote setting is open and frequent communication. Our recipe for success is to stay ‘heart to heart’, close to each other internally as a team. It’s important to share information, but even more important to listen to each other”, explains Vats Srivatchan, Director of TecAlliance India.” It’s important to build up a healthy relationship of trust and confidence. I’ve been responsible for building up the Indian organization for two years. In the last year many young people have joined the team. I’m happy that the younger people benefit from the experience of our older colleagues, while the older employees like to pass their knowledge on. To make your leadership presence felt you don’t have to be in the office. Good leadership can motivate and lead from anywhere. “
What do you do to stay healthy?
“It seems even harder to pull yourself away from the screen when you’re working from home. In India it is quite common to do Yoga or Pranayama, a technic of breath control to relax and to get a certain distance between body and soul. But some of us also jog or run up and down the stairs in our homes. Some of us live in huge building complexes where many staircases permit a lot of sports activities. Some of us go out on the street at night to not meet too many people. This is part of social distancing”, explains Vats.
Do you work more closely together in a team when you work from home?
“Yes, absolutely. We always work from different places between Delhi and Chennai and some of us are 2,500 km away. In any way we feel closely connected when we work together regularly as a team – whether we are physically together or not,” reports Vats. “Origin and distance do not matter. It’s about interpersonal relationships. I always get feedback from others and support them. But we miss meeting each other physically, because it’s also fun to have tea in the kitchen and talk to each other.”
How do you get information from management? How does Vats share information with the team?
“Vats informs us regularly in a weekly meeting. He almost always works from home and rarely comes to the office. We are used to working like this and it’s important to establish a good attitude to work from home early on. And we could even imagine just working from home and not in the office, “says Suresh. “A massive push into remote work could truly make it possible to work from anywhere and on your own schedule. This way we avoid the Indian traffic jams with bumper-to-bumper traffic and can save a lot of time, money and nerves. We are a country with 1.4 billion people. Germany is small compared to India.”
How do you celebrate major life milestones? E.g. Vat’s or Suresh’s birthday?
“When you’re not working in the office, it’s easy to miss your colleagues important events. Vat’s birthday was celebrated by singing and congrats via the Internet. “Happy birthday” may appear to be a small gesture, but it’s reminders like these that can make all the difference in having someone feel included in the workplace. Each colleague sent a small video with congratulations and wishes of health and wellbeing to Vats”, explains Suresh. “So, even if we are far apart, we feel close together.”
Lessons learned: What advantages do you see in teleworking from home?
„Over time, developing a bond with the colleagues can really improve the workplace engagement. Being comfortable in your own space and having flexibility can increase both productivity and creativity. In my opinion, socializing is important to connect with customers, preventing feelings of isolation. It comes down to trust, communication, and company-wide support of shared goals”, says Vats. “Especially in India we share a lot of working time together; otherwise we would have spent it on the way from home to the office. Some of us are lucky to have a 25-minute bike ride from home to the office, but in average the journey from home to work is much longer in India. It depends a little bit on where you live and work. Delhi is very different from Chennai and has more air pollution if you go in the morning,” explains Monhish Kanojia, Business Development Specialist. Kesava Ram, National Manager BD & CS, adds “One huge benefit is that we can spend much more time with our families. We have learned to be more flexible with working hours and split our lives into private and working time. Knowing I have that time with my family allows me to be much more productive because I am not worrying whether they forgot their lunch or arrived home safely.”
The global pandemic has provided an opportunity in the middle of a tragedy: namely, an opportunity to empower all employees in new ways. TecAlliance as a global family has considerable remote work experience and together, we shape the digital future of the automotive aftermarket. We are happy that our team of experts in India is on the right track!