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 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women
The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century. At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes. However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift. Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations. As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances. Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner (Kylie Cosmetics founder,) Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.
1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik
If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway. One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik. The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space. MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal. Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.
2) Richa Kar-Zivame
An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011. Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million. The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP. She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear. While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping. Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.
3) Falguna Nayar-Nykaa
After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded Nykaa.com in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping. Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.
ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story
4) Sabina Chopra-Yatra.com
Yatra.com is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings. Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel. By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure Yatra.com was already in place. Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe. Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.
5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare
SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online. While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen. Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare. The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.
Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things. We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic
It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers. Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn. The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork. Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms. Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals. Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord. This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.
In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status. However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model. This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.
In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus. It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion. The company had started the year with about 500 employees. By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400. With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes.
In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars. As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges. Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.
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