Virtual collaboration during COVID-19 pandemic – how we were always ready for it

It all started in 2018 when our CEO, a great believer in automation, standardization, and repeatability, suggested we should start implementing it in our day-to-day operations. What we wanted was clear, but how to implement it was something to be achieved. Luckily for us, we were already using Office 365, and it was a matter of time before we started discovering the whole collaboration package included in Office 365.  

We had explored different free tools, like SlackSkype, and more. Soon we discovered Microsoft Teams, and to our surprise, it was in our Office 365 plan. Microsoft Teams back then was new, with limited features, but it was still great and perfect fit for a small team like ours to start exploring virtual collaboration. 

It wasn’t easy at the beginning. Any shift comes with mind blocks from people. Any small challenge seems big to some, with little willingness to overcome it. For us, the good thing was the size of the team. Because we were a few and the leadership was willing to give it a shot, it was easier for me to push the throttle forward and keep driving progress with virtualization of collaboration.

Arpita Das

After a few months of dedication and commitment towards Microsoft Teams and SharePointwe had figured out Teams as the platform for internal collaboration. After which, there was no looking back. By then, as a team we had started putting in efforts to further optimize MS Teams. We were now all committed to it.  

The next challenge before us was the work culture itself. In a typical office situation, you have a manager to supervise you, who is also held accountable for your timetable and deliverables. At Damo Consulting, we had realized this early that if we have to succeed as a company, as a person, as a team that has the flexibility to work from wherever they are, then the most important thing is to inculcate in oneself the culture of self-motivation, trust, a sense of responsibility, and be self-driven. These values were important, and fortunately for us, everyone in the Damo Consulting family holds each of these values dear to them. According to Bhawna Mishra, Digital Marketing Executive, “We at Damo have always believed in get-going. My journey started when I was in Finland, working as a freelancer with the company. Since then, I have seen a simple mantra of trust and employee value in the company, and we as a team have always been self-responsible towards our work. Work from home comes with a responsibility and trust from both the employee as well as the employer. The whole team has been so far sharing this mutually pretty well.” 

There is another crucial thing key to enabling smooth virtual operation i.e., to put in place certain decorum to facilitate employees to organize themselves for the day or week or a project, bring in some discipline in their daily routineOne can easily feel lost when you work from home if you are not disciplined enough to bring in some order to your day’s timetable. We found that while it is easy for some to do this easily, others could do better with some help. The willingness is mostly there, they just need that push in the right direction. We already had our weekly calls in place where Paddy set the stage for the week or month in place. The challenge for us was now to keep the team’s activities and deliverables together. So along with my colleague Kaushik Dutta, Head of Research, we decided to hold morning meetings. The objectives were three: 

  1. To sync up the teams act together for the day. 
  2. To clarify doubts, set work or deliverable expectations for the day. 
  3. Help prioritize work.

 

And it did help,” says Arpita.  

Regular morning meetings, which starts dot at 9.10 am, help us to keep focus, with each one having daily deliverables and a call almost every weekday at the end of the day. Since it is a small team, each one knows what the other is working on.

Dr. Joyoti Goswami

Morning team calls every day has made our life easier. We make sure to connect at least once, or twice or even more depending upon the work. Having said all this, when you work from home, things might get a little monotonous sometimes. So, we have set up these Friday video calls so that the whole team get to see everyone. Another interesting thing is we sometimes see our team members family in the background or hear them during the audio calls. So, it’s great to know the family members as well. Though we have a virtual team, sitting in three different time zones, we are synced in a way not less than any other office goers.

Bhawna Mishra

At Damo Consulting, working from home is a convenience offered to everyone from day 1. The leadership has always been focused on technology, automation and standardization of processes. The team members located across the U.S. and India in different geographies collaborate using Microsoft Teams. Having all technology tools in place; however, does not guarantee productivity unless people and processes are not aligned to the business objectives and sync well. At Damo, it has been a constant trial, error, and improvisation. The result, today, is that the team works like a well-oiled system. Always open to improvements and optimization. “As a new full-time employee, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the laptop and work-related accessories couriered within a day of onboarding. Remote working is a choice the management has made, and processes are aligned accordingly,” says Dr. Joyoti Goswami, Healthcare Technology.  

As a Graphic/Web designer, the challenge to collaborate virtually, as efficiently as others could for content, did not come easy. However, with teamwork, today, we have made significant progress in automating design processes. Today, we can churn out our podcast episodes in 2 days’ time, thanks to standardization and automation of the process.

Sanjith Kumar

 It goes without saying that happy people at work are more productive. The remote work culture allows you to squeeze in more time for personal priorities by saving on travel time, which is one of the major challenges in metros across the world. Office politics also has no place in the remote working culture. Each one is interested in finishing their assigned tasks and find time to do the things they love in their free time. The water cooler gossips about the nasty colleague or boss does not happen at all, allowing folks to be more productive. That doesn’t mean people do not gossip at all, every week the team gets into video calls which essentially is around connecting and knowing more about each other. 

Since this is a small team, it is easier to have the remote chit chat. Topics of conversations range from recipes, food habits, yoga, hobbies and everything unrelated to work.

Kaushik Dutta

Today, in these times of crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, when we look back at all that we put in to enable virtual collaboration for the team, we feel happy and joyous that we are ready and well prepared to deliver to our clients who are in the forefront fighting the corona war. Nothing has changed for us except that today we are more confident of moving in the right direction and having made the right choices.  

My goal has always been to get smart people to join the team, give them meaningful work, and a chance at work-life balance without the stress of commutes and wasted hours. Standardizing our processes, automating them where we could, and investing in the right collaboration tools were part of a deliberate strategy to achieve these goals. Our investment in Microsoft’s O365 suite, along with other tools such as Zoom and Asana helps the team communicate, increase efficiency, and to do more with their time. Best of all, we achieve all this in a virtual collaboration environment. When the coronavirus crisis hit us, we didn’t skip a beat. We were already used to working remotely and collaborating across time zones to deliver high quality work to clients in an accelerated pace. When our clients went remote, we had no problem adjusting. If anything, we continue to operate at the same pace as before and we continue to deliver high-quality work.   

Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO, Damo Consulting
THE HEALTHCARE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION LEADER

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THE HEALTHCARE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION LEADER

Join the digital healthcare revolution. Stay on top of the latest news, trends, and insights with Damo Consulting.

Sign me up for the latest news, trends, and insights from Damo.

THE HEALTHCARE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION LEADER

Join the digital healthcare revolution. Stay on top of the latest news, trends, and insights with Damo Consulting.