Thursday, June 18, 2020

Distant work in our company

The coronavirus pandemic that has immersed the world has made many adjustments to the way millions of people around the world live, as we all know. Lots of companies, enterprises and factories have stopped working or suspended their activities due to the sudden virus. Many of them had to send employees on unpaid leaves or to start dismissal procedures to save money and optimize costs during the downtime while the others had begun to switch to remote work patterns.

Our team was among the latter when the management of Kiosk IT System Trading LLC and Taunigma followed the instructions of the UAE official departments have decided to minimize the number of employees going to the offices and eliminate the spread of infection among the staff, partially transferring them to work from home. These measures were taken from the beginning of quarantine and lockdown measures.

We have decided today interview our employees about all the nuts and bolts of the remote work who will disclose to us how they spend days under the quarantine and tell us whether it is better to work in the office or at home.

Our first guest is Svitlana Striliana who works at Taunigma customer service. Svitlana is always eager to help and do everything possible to solve the problems of customers or just to share good advice with colleagues while her diligence, love of work and desire to help people is her distinctive feature.

Svitlana, how are your working days going during the quarantine?

– Well, my work schedule has not changed much since the beginning of lockdown. The only thing is that now my workplace is a home sofa and a desk. Every day at 9 am like before, I start my work with a cup of tea being full of energy and strength. We share lots of correspondence with colleagues in work chats during the day where we deal with current issues.

You work at Taunigma customer support service team. Have the quarantine measures had a significant impact on your working life?

– There have been no special changes in the activities since my job is to communicate with Taunigma partners through e-mail and tickets system. I am always available with my laptop and accessible to all the platforms of our company, and ready to help with any questions that agents and franchise owners may have.

Does isolation have an impact on your mood to do something extra besides work?

– Definitely, it is tough to stay under lockdown for 3 months already. At first, it was especially hard, because life has changed dramatically from the usual to eventless, and my mood was fickle during this time. However, I accepted the fact that it was inevitable over time and took control of myself. I started practicing yoga from time to time and other sports that can be done indoors.

Do you manage to make good use of spare time and to improve your professional qualification?

– I try to read various useful articles whenever possible and to watch lectures on business and experience of successful entrepreneurs, as well as continue practicing and improving my English, picking up online classes after work and on weekends.

We wonder and we couldn't help asking whether it's better to work at home or in the office?

– I feel comfortable working at home, but there is a lack of live communication with my colleagues. When you work in the office, if there is a question, it can be solved as soon as possible through discussion with colleagues at any time. I hope that the situation with the virus in the country will get better pretty soon and we will be able to return to working hours in the office.

Have you managed to reveal any hidden talents or hobbies during the lockdown?

– Well, I can't say I have. I`d say that I can spare more time for my hobbies. For example, I am fond of cooking something extraordinary, making new recipes, especially baking and confectionery. Unfortunately, I can't do it all the time, because now we are not allowed to invite someone home and it is quick that you can gain a couple of extra pounds. Therefore, I hope that I will have the long-awaited opportunity to treat something delicious to my colleagues and friends at work with the end of the quarantine.

Our next companion is Roman Matsaniuk, the head of the digital payments department. Roman is one of the first who pioneered our company and has a vast experience in marketing and sales. He has been linked recently with promotions of online payments featured with NT.Wallet application since the latter is relevant to UAE residents during the isolation and quarantine time.

 – Roman, just a few words about your routine in quarantine and how your workload changed since you moved to the work from home?

– The volume of current tasks has increased significantly and I had to move to a six-day schedule to deal with project issues in time with the transition to work from home and the need to promote actively the mobile application. However, work is not limited to the time allocated for it since it is necessary to solve urgent problems both in the evening and at the weekend. I saw no difference in days because of constant working, quarantine and restrictions on walking from the house, but in due course got used to a rhythm and has adapted to it.

The isolation had a positive impact on NT.Wallet mobile app which managed to gain huge popularity in the shortest time possible. Is there any reason for this?

– It has to do with the priority of this direction for our company. We have redirected great efforts to implement new important features to the application and to complete a large-scale advertising campaign to promote it by placing advertising banners in social networks and video clips on the screens of payment terminals. The Development Department has contributed such functions as online customer identification for convenient use of bank cards, cashback system for clients’ loyalty, notification system and mass text messaging for users. We found a great idea to introduce calls for action, such as "Download NT.Wallet" to the call center answering system and WhatsApp numbers of system users. A series of promotions such as "Invite a friend and get a balance", "Mark us and get a bonus", "International promotion", "Ramadan Promotion" has led to the growth in popularity and demand of NT.Wallet.

Indeed, NT.Wallet is a clear example of how to use effectively restrictive measures for the development of the project. Will this area remain a priority once the quarantine is over in the UAE?

– Certainly, this area will remain a priority after quarantine measures are lifted. Those customers who preferred NT.Wallet to other payment methods have seen that our mobile application is fast and convenient while safety is the most important and top priority for us. The demand for NT.Wallet is clear through many positive reviews on social networks, the number of downloads of the program and its growing turnover.

What other gains can be made out of this situation and how will the pandemic affect the advertising and payment market of the Emirates?

– I believe that the potential of the local market has not yet been exhausted and it still has great prospects for growth. We can't rest on our laurels in this situation, but we need to try to get ahead of our rivals by covering the maximum share of the online payment market. The results show that we are moving in the right direction, as the advertising and payment sector of the UAE has considerable resources and offers great opportunities for making earnings.

Let's move on and get to the call center of our company, the most important link to the customer support of NT.Payments system and the proper operation of all its services. Ahmed Ashraf, the head of this department, told us about the work of this department and what types of communication means are used for solving daily routine during the quarantine.

Ahmed, you are in charge of the call center of our company. Can you tell us if your employees were required to be transferred to a remote work pattern if so, was it temporarily or permanently?

– Yes, the company management has decided to relocate temporarily to all the staff of the call center from the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic and with the start of curfew to provide full information support to the customers. One way or another, we have managed to enter the rhythm of the new rules established by the state authorities during the pandemic and meet successfully the requirements of social distance.

Were all ongoing processes in the department effectively organized?

– Yes, they were. The model we chose for the department work in the new format proved to be effective. We were able to make some changes in the course of work, distributing the load in equal shares among all members of our team. The IT department has provided us within the short notice with professional support in setting up the mechanisms of the department remote operation, in particular, getting stable and secure access to all administrative systems and organizing the issue of communications within the team. I am deeply convinced that such methods of work will help users of NT.Payments system and NT.Wallet mobile application to get the best client experience.

Have the preferences of clients changed concerning the ways of connecting with the call center? Has this increased the workload of some individual specialists who are in charge of a particular communication channel?

– In general, the variety of communication means makes it easier both for the employee and for the customer to communicate. This allows the average person to communicate clearly with the problem using convenient communication channels such as WhatsApp, NT.Wallet chat service or a traditional call to the call center. We have introduced a training program to prepare employees for multitasking to meet fully with the needs of our extensive customer base and to aim to make the work of the department more efficient and fast.

Do you think the development of the department is heading in the right direction?

– Well, the course we have chosen has proved our ability to work in stressful situations and to answer your question, I would say that we are satisfied with the way our team is developing. The company management is doing everything possible to help our team grow, especially under the conditions of coronavirus pandemics.

Are you happy with the organization and finding solutions to all processes in the call center during the quarantine?

– We have to work as closely as possible due to the unusual quarantine situation. However, I like the way the current processes are organized and the way they interact with other departments in setting and solving clients' tasks. We also managed to implement some innovations within the department. For example, we have reconfigured the routing of incoming calls and organized secure remote access to company systems for employees. This is only a small part of the innovations that we have already input. Several other measures and improvements are being prepared for implementation shortly that will allow us to perform our tasks better. I am convinced that we still need to grow and we will certainly adopt the best user experience and be sure to work on errors which no one is safe from.

As you see, the remote work pattern proves that it is effective and right to live within the divisions of our company while the global trend aimed at freelance and free schedule, suggests that a new reality has come when employees are not restricted to stay at places in the office to solve daily routine. Coronavirus, although it brought many problems, however, allowed us to cast a different perspective on distance work which became common for many people during the quarantine. The corporate culture will no longer be the same as it seems to us, after all the restrictive measures have been lifted and employers will probably conclude by comparing the efficiency of home and office work.