Guest Post by Rio Fontanilla
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely expedited the adoption of remote work strategies in an effort to maintain continuous business operations and profitability around the world. Remote team management and the ability to enhance team communications in a work from home environment has become increasingly common.
Aside from this, the work from home setup has also made an indirect effect on the growing internationalization of the workforce. As businesses move much of their operations online, the physical limitations of the traditional office setting have largely been blurred, allowing employers to source better suited talents from all over the world. As more and more businesses adopt remote work as their primary mode of operations, particularly as the world plunges into the second wave of the pandemic, it is highly likely that remote collaboration will remain the new reality for years to come.
Internationalization of the workforce – Lost in Translation
With this opportunity comes a slew of challenges when it comes to managing a multilingual team remotely.
First, are the obvious physical hurdles that companies have to address such as being able to provide the right tools to employees or even something as basic as access to Internet infrastructure. Even experienced team builders, HR heads, and operations managers would find sourcing the right hardware and software to support international collaboration different from furnishing one or two office spaces. For this, the United States Chamber of Commerce has created an in depth report on how to create remote work policies that promote employee productivity and well being
But the greater challenge is being able to coordinate a team from different countries, not only overcoming geographical barriers and time differences, but more importantly overcoming language and cultural barriers.
This is why companies must put policies and initiatives in place to promote digital workplace internationalization. By working with experts, employers can make sure business processes across all verticals maintain productivity through multilingual support.
Employers must make sure that everyone in the company regardless of where they are in the world, what language they speak, or how big or small their teams are, must have the necessary tools and resources to carry on their tasks. This means that everything including operations manuals; procedural guidelines; employee onboarding materials; handbooks; contracts; and even business related software and hardware must be standardized and be available in multiple languages.
It is then crucial for executives and teams leads to work with language, HR, and accessibility experts to formulate a standardized internal communications strategy that is clear, concise and culturally sensitive. Companies should then make sure that this strategy would be implemented faithfully in all languages spoken within the organization.
Internationalization for Remote Multilingual Team Management
According to the University of California at Berkeley, human resources network, promoting productivity and teamwork requires clear goals and constant input from everyone in the team. Employers need to foster an open, digital workplace environment that is conducive to close collaboration and knowledge-sharing while promoting trust and cooperation among employees.
Understanding the implications of the internationalization of the organization is crucial in properly managing a multilingual team. These concepts help foster a culturally sensitive approach towards not only customer facing communications but also internal communications as well.
The principles of internationalization and globalization are likely more familiar to marketing teams, but these principles are also relevant when dealing with international or multilingual remote teams as well. A little bit of cultural sensitivity can go a long way towards cementing team member relations, even for remote and multilingual teams. By promoting open communication among members of the organization, team leads will be able to clearly understand the hindrances to productivity and team cohesion.
To ensure better cultural and linguistic sensitivity, it is advisable for businesses to incorporate them into employee training and create initiatives that would celebrate the cultural diversity of the digital workplace.
Internationalization and multilingual communication
There may be occasions when the necessary team personnel has no capacity to communicate effectively with one another. Tools and resources may be able to support multiple languages but human collaboration would often be a lot more limited. Unless there is the off chance that everyone in the team is multilingual, there would definitely be misunderstandings and miscues along the way.
Perhaps the best way to avoid getting lost in translation during multilingual meetings and real time collaboration is by taking a page off of the United Nation’s book. Many international organizations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and others have similarly resorted to software and hardware solutions for remote meetings like any other business, but utilize remote video interpreters in order to effectively communicate with one another.
While hiring professional interpreters or utilizing interpretation service providers may seem like a needless use of company resources, but by enabling clear and efficient communication among multilingual teams, businesses can eliminate miscommunication and essentially avoid potentially costly mistakes.
Communications consultant and author David Grossman, highlights the importance of a clear understanding of creating an effective and productive multilingual organization. He notes that face to face conversations and feedback techniques are important in allowing one’s audience, in this case, the employees, to build a foundation of understanding. This can only be done if the translation is done effectively.
Employees are generally more perceptive and open to providing well thought out input when they are allowed to speak freely in their native language. In order to bolster the organization’s efforts to create an atmosphere for diverse ideas, leaders must incorporate translation or interpretation not only in core resources but also in everyday communication so that teams across different countries would not become segmented in silos.
While not all organizations find that the remote work setup works for their business model, many companies who have made the jump from brick and mortar, to mostly digital out of necessity would find that this new normal would better suit their goals for growth. Digital transformation and internationalization provide agility and scalability of business expansion, allowing businesses to source the best human talents and resources as well as reach new consumers. However, companies need to understand the operational and personal nuances of their internationalized workforce to be able to scale as efficiently as possible. To do so requires a heavy investment in providing employees with all the resources needed for them to perform their duties without language being an obstacle.
5 Reasons Why Telegram Founder Pavel Durov Thinks Whatsapp Is Dangerous
Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, is no fan of Whatsapp and he believes Whatsapp is dangerous and not safe. Elucidating more on the topic, Durov made his reasons known in a blogpost he published in late 2020. Here are the five reasons why Pavel Durov thinks Whatsapp is dangerous.
1) If Jeff Bezos’ phone can be hacked via Whatsapp then nobody is safe.
One of the richest men in the world and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ phone was allegedly hacked by Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Some of Bezos’s private communications and images were taken during the hack following which Whatsapp’s security was questioned.
2) The United Nations recommends its officials to remove Whatsapp from their devices
The United Nations recommends its officials to not use Whatsapp because it thinks Whatsapp is not a secure mode of communication. In June 2019, a U.N., spokesman Farhan Haq said, “The senior officials at the U.N. have been instructed not to use WhatsApp, it’s not supported as a secure mechanism (sic.)” This directive came when independent U.N. experts found a possible involvement of Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the alleged cyber attack of Jeff Bexos’ phone in 2018.
3) End to end encryption does not guarantee security.
Durov says “in their marketing, WhatsApp uses the words “end-to-end encryption” as some magic incantation that alone is supposed to automatically make all communications secure. However, this technology is not a silver bullet that can guarantee you absolute privacy by itself (sic.)”
4) Chat backups on Android and Apple cloud are not encrypted.
Pavel Durov does not believe chat backups in the cloud are safe and says “Users don’t want to lose their chats when they change devices, so they back up the chats in services like iCloud – often without realizing their backups are not encrypted. The fact that Apple was forced by the FBI to abandon encryption plans for iCloud is telling (sic.)”
5) Backdoors continue to exist in Whatsapp
“There are backdoors. Enforcement agencies are not too happy with encryption, forcing app developers to secretly plant vulnerabilities in their apps. I know that because we’ve been approached by some of them – and refused to cooperate. As a result, Telegram is banned in some countries where WhatsApp has no issues with authorities, most suspiciously in Russia and Iran (sic,)” claims Durov in his blogpost.
As data privacy is becoming more and more important in the current day and age of the internet, we wonder what messaging application is totally safe.
5 Warning Signs For A Startup To Avoid Failure
A startup can go on for months without paying attention to some warning signs which indicate imminent failure. The startup journey would be smooth until suddenly problems keep popping up one after the other. Founders will scramble to plug the holes in their startup which would often lead to a diversion of their energies to the problem rather than steering the startup towards their vision. Sometimes, the problems would not even come to light until and after a startup goes bust. While the warning signs are there, they often tend to be ignored till it is too late. However, looking for these signs and making a conscious effort to address them would definitely course correct a startup for good.
Here are the five warning signs for a startup to avoid failure
1) Unable to define customer needs
A startup always needs to be aware of the needs of their customers as well as understand these needs keep changing from time to time. Clients are the key to a successful startup even more important than investors. Addressing customer complaints and listening to feedback is highly important and needs to be followed through even though some of the feedback could be highly negative.
2) Failure to pivot
A startup could be doing great things and scaling up rapidly but can still go under if it does not adapt to the changing demands and technology. A business model or a product which is working now does not mean it would work forever. This has been the hubris for many well known startups and startups which successfully pivoted have thrived. For instance Blockbuster, the video rental chain was one of the biggest companies in the United States of America before they closed shop due to the arrival of Netflix. The online streaming platform offered Blockbuster an opportunity to acquire them and adapt their model but Blockbuster declined and the rest is history.
3) Not accounting for market forces
The market is a special place which could teach a lot of things to a startup about pricing, demand and supply, sales, management and so on. While things might be sailing smoothly for the time being, startups need to have contingency plans for scenarios which might happen in the future. Forecasting needs to be done for at least a year to ensure smooth flow of operations. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example as a lot of startups were completely blindsided. While the situation could be termed as an act of god, some startups have put away some funds for use exactly for times like these. Another example would be UberEats in India, which did not account for a saturated market in food delivery which is ruled by Zomato and Swiggy. This led to them having to sell the business to Zomato.
4) Mistimed products
While a startup can come up with a game changing idea, releasing it into the market should be a calculated affair. There is a risk of the product not being accepted widely in the market even though the technology and the idea behind it is ages ahead of its time. This has led to many products to fail miserably only to have another player taste success with the same idea. Famous examples of failures and success respectively include Orkut and Facebook, Meru and Ola, Foodpanda and Zomato, Blackberry messenger and Whatsapp.
5) Running out of cash
Working capital management is the biggest focus point for any startup as it directly impacts the survivability of a startup. Running out of capital is one of the biggest reasons startups often fail apart from poor product fit and failed pivots. Take the case of Hola Chef for example, a startup which connects users with chefs who cook exotic meals. Venture capitalists loved the idea of this startup but the arrival of Zomato and Swiggy saw investors backing out of Hola Chef which ultimately led the startup to shut down and eventually be acquired by Ola backed Foodpanda.
If you can locate any of these warning signs, you could better adjust the course of your startup to navigate choppy markets and to mitigate those risks on the road to survival and growth.
What Is Organisational Development And Why Is It Important
The market is a highly competitive and a volatile place as customer needs and preferences keep changing without any warning. A startup or an organisation needs to be flexible with the ever changing demands and needs in order to adapt to sudden changes. Many high performing startups had to close shop because they simply could not account and plan for the future. Nokia had to shut shop because it could not adapt to the iOS and Android operating systems, Blockbuster closed down because Netflix disrupted their entire business model and there are many more such examples. However, some companies survived due to multiple changes in technology like Philips for instance, which realised the importance of LED and incandescent bulbs. Philips quickly adapted these new bulbs into their roster because they understood Tungsten filament bulbs would be phased out.
This is where Organisational Development (OD) comes into play and almost every startup which continuously adapted to change applied principles of organisational development.
What is organisational development
In simple terms organisational development means doing something which ensures the longevity of an organisation. OD ensures people and processes can adapt to change, innovate and be in a state of constant transformation. OD can only be successful if it is part of a company’s core goal.
Why is OD important
OD does not mean just developing skilled staff and efficient systems and the following are the reasons why OD is important.
1) Boosting emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively and empathize with others. Emotionally intelligent companies develop strategies in place to help their employees hone their skills and become more productive. A simple example would be to assign a new employee to shadow an experienced member of the team so they could learn the in and outs of the team processes. Similarly external mentors could be brought in to offer sessions on topics relevant to a team.
2) Attracting and retaining talent
Gone are the days when jobs used to be monotonous and devoid of much learning. The current workforce is highly focussed and needs to learn new skills and data quickly. The workforce has come to expect a certain kind of professional development from their employers. Having an environment of continuous learning would encourage current talent to stick to an organization and at the same time provides a huge incentive to attract new and great talent. Some of the top organizations like Salesforce, Indeed, Google and Microsoft to name a few are always in demand among job seekers and their workforce constantly keep talking about the developmental opportunities provided.
3) Product and service enhancement
One of the key importance of OD is it drastically improves the chances of innovation which leads to product enhancements. Innovation is achieved through employee development, which focuses on rewarding successes and boosting motivation and morale. Processes like Technology development, patents, manufacturing capabilities, consumer preferences, target market analysis are some of OD topics which assist in innovation. An example would be OnePlus which is deemed as a flagship killer in the mobile segment because they understand the market need for having a premium phone with flagship features for an unbeatable price. Year after year, they have exceeded expectations in terms of pricing and features because OnePlus understands the needs of their target market.
OD programs in an organization can greatly contribute to amplify a company’s ability to manage and maximise the power of change. Gone were the days when a job was an exchange of time and energy for financial gain. Today employees want a place of learning and a place where ideas are discussed freely and having an OD plan will greatly contribute to the success of an organization.
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