EFC hosts forum on “IT-integrated remote work culture” | Sunday Observer

EFC hosts forum on “IT-integrated remote work culture”

18 April, 2021

The first edition of the HR/IR Forum for 2021 of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was held recently on the theme “IT-integrated remote work culture: Pandemic and Beyond”.

The webinar-forum which brought together experts in HR/IR, Industrial and Labour Law and disability sector from the EFC and its member-companies, deliberated on opportunities and challenges a remote work culture driven by IT entails in the pandemic-clouded environment. It also brought to the table the shifts to be forged in an IT-driven work culture beyond the pandemic. 

Opening the forum, Head of Business Transformation, Hirdaramani Group, Kelum Herat-Gunaratne provided a snapshot of the labour-intensive, diversified conglomerate’s key areas of business impact due to the pandemic which included both primary and supporting activities. With an unprecedented toll on sales due to market and operation closure, non-supply of raw materials all of which had a ‘domino effect on operations’ as Herat-Gunaratne explained, the company was driven to adapt mitigation strategies which were largely IT-fuelled.

“All were counting on technology as the answer. Infrastructure and finance too had a huge role to play and we strategised collectively to see how we could adapt to this new environment.” The IT-HR fusion gave new interventions a further thrust. Resources for remote work, adapting a change in the work culture, and health and safety of the employees were among the core strategies adopted, said the senior professional who went on to remark that the flip-side of the pandemic was that it ‘fast-tracked the implementation of Hirdaramani’s digital transformation strategy’, he said.

Amplifying the existing processes and leveraging the right technology, pushed WSO2 to brave Covid-induced business challenges, said Vice President, Human Resources and Administration at WSO2, Udeshika Ratnavira. Citing monthly town halls, buddy chats, employee surveys, interactive onboarding sessions, support to set up home offices and creating awareness on coping with crisis as chief strategies embraced by her company.

“Employees were missing out on social experience, their mental health was affected, brainstorming sessions were difficult on the phone and there were domestic interventions impacting work which we had to take stock of,” she said.

With the challenges, learnings were also many said the HR professional who cited prioritising costs and essentials, investing in technology, fostering a larger and a deeper pool of talent, connectedness, communication, agility, thinking global and wellness among them.

Head of Solutions, Legal and HR and Assistant Director General of the EFC, Sewwandi Jayatunga Wijesekera shared some of the common legal concerns raised by the EFC members in navigating through the new business fabric brought about by the pandemic. Deviations from the terms in the contract of employment, new work arrangements, leave and holidays, remuneration and benefits, monitoring the performance of probationers and poor performers and managing discipline were among these.