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57. DigitalTransformation and Resilience: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Flexibility with HR Expert Mukta Anya

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Podcast with Murkta Part 2


in summary:

Get ready for an eye-opening discussion on digitaltransformation and resilience in the workplace with HR expert Mukta Anya. In this engaging episode, Mukta shares her insights on the challenges and successes of implementing digital initiatives. Discover the importance of
systematic planning, long-term vision, and skilled teams to sustain digital
transformations. Gain valuable knowledge on navigating crisis management and
supporting employee well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore the
concept of flexibility in the workplace and the balance between remote work and
on-site presence. Don't miss out on this thought-provoking conversation that
will empower you to drive successful digital transformations in your

Join us for an insightful conversation with Mukta Anya, aseasoned HR professional, as we delve into the world of digital transformation and resilience in the workplace. In this episode, Mukta shares her experiences and expertise gained throughout her career in HR, highlighting the challenges
and opportunities of implementing digital transformation strategies. She emphasizes
the importance of systematic planning, long-term vision, and the need for a
supportive and skilled workforce to sustain digital initiatives. Mukta also
discusses the significant role HR played during the COVID-19 pandemic,
navigating crisis management and prioritizing employee well-being. Furthermore,
she explores the concept of flexibility in the workplace, advocating for a
balance between remote work and on-site presence. Tune in to gain valuable
insights on driving successful digital transformation and fostering resilience
in the ever-changing business landscape.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew: I have seen some cases wherethere are some management guys, I think when they do digital transformation, their attitude is Do I look good in front of the boss? Is this a shiny bling thing for my KPI or my balance scorecard? And with regards to those attitudes,
I'm always concerned because sometimes some of these transformations, it looks
very shiny, but it doesn't stick.

[00:00:23] Andrew Liew: What's your view on that? It is verytrue. As I said, you need to have somebody to the right, right skill set in,
in, in your employees who will maintain it, oversee it, and make sure that it

[00:00:23] Murkta Anya: So for me, yeah it is not like one short kind of solution. It has to be
worked on over a period of time.

[00:00:46] Murkta Anya: There will be iterations therewill be some improvements. It is, you have to be patient and you have to
persevere. It is hard work. I can tell you that. And this is what we felt
during our digital transformation [00:01:00]journey for human resources. You have to be systematic about it it is not an ad
hoc thing.

[00:01:05] Murkta Anya: You have to be systematic, it ispre digital transformation, what you need to do. And post, how to maintain it,
you need to be very particular about it. And

[00:01:14] Andrew Liew: Like, how can HR leaders or HRmanagers cultivate that sort of optimistic resilience as they hunker down on
digital transformation?

[00:01:26] Murkta Anya: Optimistic resilience.

[00:01:28] Murkta Anya: It depends on personalities ofpeople. As some people are more optimistic than others. I would say I don't
want to use this term cautious optimism because it has been used to death, huh?
But I would say that you need somebody. who the HR leader has to be patient.
They have to have a long term vision.

[00:01:48] Murkta Anya: They have to really connect thedots that if something we are doing right now, how is it going to impact the
bottom line of the organization in the long run? We might have some teething
troubles. How do we [00:02:00] overcome that ifit doesn't work? Okay. So do we have a plan B or a plan C? Because I think it's
important as a leader, we need to have that kind of scenario planning and it can
happen in digital transformation also, because sometimes they work, sometimes
they do not work then do you have a fallback option?

[00:02:17] Murkta Anya: Are you reducing or eliminatingthe operational risk which comes with digitalizing everything and not having a
backup? So again, I think it is a, the whole ecosystem has to be thought of
from my HR leaders point of view, when we are doing digital transformation, it
is not a one off thing. It is not an isolation.

[00:02:36] Murkta Anya: You have to really see what isthe impact it will have on the other processes that we have in the long run. It
is a long term, it's a long term strategy. It is not a short term strategy and
it's not isolated strategy according to me. I

[00:02:51] Andrew Liew: It's not an isolated strategy.Having said that, one of the interesting things that I wanted to ask you is
because if you think from the [00:03:00] lastthree years there was pre COVID 19, and then there was COVID and then now we
are moving into an endemic situation where it's post COVID.

[00:03:09] Andrew Liew: Can you share with us, theaudience, like your thoughts on how has HR or your HR team or your HR life
changed through these three phases? You about... So during COVID time and which
is still continuing in some parts as you can imagine, I think the role of HR
became pretty center of everything because it's all involving employees people
I think the workload of HR became much more because it's not only the normal
BAU, but it's also crisis management.

[00:03:42] Murkta Anya: And it's also the emotionalwellbeing of employees, which. really came to the fore during these times and
so HR professionals were not only managing these things but also the emotional
burden of their own but also of the employees which are there. [00:04:00] So for me I thought that it was reallyquite tough on human resource professionals.

[00:04:04] Murkta Anya: The burnout level was higher theemotional condition was I think a little bit more fragile during this time. But
what COVID also did was as it forced us to all work from home the reliance on
infrastructure, remote working it became much more common. I did feel that in
certain areas, like for example, in learning and development, since we were
doing everything virtually the acceleration became much faster.

[00:04:30] Murkta Anya: So we were already we were alwayslooking at how can we use digital learning quite a lot and the take up rate was
much lower, but during this time, people. There was no choice. So they had to
use it. We even launched new programs during this this time where starting from
design thinking to the actual implementation all happened virtually.

[00:04:52] Murkta Anya: And we all also discovered newways of doing things finding new technologies [00:05:00]collaborative spaces like Mural or Clarksoon and some of the other things. And
we realized that this can also be very effective. Because the programs were
pretty effective. So I think the acceleration of adoption of digital learning
technologies became really fast, which I think was good.

[00:05:18] Murkta Anya: We had to think creatively abouthow do we communicate with employees? How do we reach out to them? And
everything was virtual with 12 markets in APAC for subgen. And it worked, we
realized that there were many things which earlier we said cannot happen, but
because of this situation, it forced us to think differently.

[00:05:38] Murkta Anya: So for me, the acceleration ofdigital transformation was high, very high during this period. And I can say
that there are many positive outcomes out of this, the flexibility in working
working from home and other things which earlier there was some skepticism and
cynicism. Now it has.

[00:05:58] Murkta Anya: And employees are feeling [00:06:00] also some of them, of course, are feelingmore productive because of the flexibility, because we even keep it now after
after people have gone back to offices. And for some people, I think it was a
bit difficult because they were not able to manage the time between the
personal and professional.

[00:06:15] Murkta Anya: So again, a lot of things cameinto the fall, which was very different from pre COVID days, so for me, we have
matured as human resource professionals. Really putting people at the center of
everything that we do. All the organizations have been doing it. We have been
thinking of creative ways of how to help employees, support employees during
tough times.

[00:06:36] Murkta Anya: There were no precedents. I thinkit has been very interesting times and I think a very positive times for human
resources in terms of the development of the way we think about things, it has
been trying and tiring and challenging. Really, I think human resource
professionals, as human resource professionals, I feel I've grown quite a lot.

[00:06:57] Murkta Anya: And I'm sure others have also.

[00:06:59] Andrew Liew: Wow, [00:07:00]that's an amazing story that you just mentioned. As you mentioned, I think
human resource professionals, it's almost like the Nightingale. In World War
II, except now we are fighting a war against, let's say, this COVID 19 and we
have to do our day to day operations and we have to emerge stronger and more
resilient and more creative.

[00:07:23] Andrew Liew: And yes, let's salute to all thehuman resource professionals just like you. Now, interesting question when you
talk about people. Working from home and adjusting. So now on the internet,
there is this two schools of thought buzzing, one is the Brian Chesky, the
founder of Airbnb. He believed that the future of work is work anywhere,

[00:07:47] Andrew Liew: Anyhow, as long as you get thejob done So he advocate like if you have the choice to work and you're in
airbnb, you can work anywhere anyhow The other extreme is elon musk, right? [00:08:00] And he Said that if you want to work fromhome go and go somewhere else to work. Don't work at Tesla. Now what's your
view on these two extreme schools of thought?

[00:08:10] Murkta Anya: I personally, I feel that if aperson is able to deliver then it should not matter where they're working from.
Of course, I work in a, in banking industry, which is regulated and there are
some roles where you do need to have stability of, for example connections and
all, so that there is.

[00:08:29] Murkta Anya: There are no operational risk andalso we do have some of those functions which have to be working from office
and you can't work from anywhere. So I would like to be a little bit more
balanced and say that flexibility is important. We give employees flexibility
in terms of work from home two days a week or staggered hours or if if core
hours, for example and frankly, I do feel flexibility is very important for
productivity because everybody is different.

[00:08:57] Murkta Anya: We all have our differentbiological clocks [00:09:00] and if people aredelivering it should be okay. So I'm leaning more towards the side of Airbnb
model compared to Elon Musk model. Flexibility is key. Employees appreciate it,
but it also helps them to organize their life much better.

[00:09:15] Murkta Anya: Frankly, they are much moreproductive. Last year was fully in COVID everywhere else in the world. And we
had one of the best years in Société Générale in terms of productivity and
revenues. So you can imagine that we were all working from home or maybe once
or twice in office.

[00:09:35] Murkta Anya: So it was it can work flexibilitycan work.

[00:09:38] Andrew Liew: Yeah. Like you said in the bankwhere some of the jobs. Has to be on site for security and regulatory reason.
Other than that, most of the other jobs can work from home and therefore
flexibility enabled that. Whereas for Elon Musk I think 80% of his people are
engineers where they have to be physically [00:10:00]in the manufacturing or rocket ship.

[00:10:03] Andrew Liew: And I think he's trying to saythat his, their presence. On site as it counts. Okay. So now when you think
about flexibility this is an interesting question. You think about it? So in
the good old days before COVID 19 forced people to actually book from home or
enabling the possibility of work from home, people has always been working on

[00:10:25] Andrew Liew: And managers has been able tocall people within close proximity. To have a meeting like hey this desk guy
come on over here this guy come over here Let's have a chat see what we can
solve this problem But ever since there's this work from home emphasis on
flexibility this Proximity advantage is gone So how do managers?

[00:10:51] Andrew Liew: manage Spontaneity is managedsituation as this proximity advantage disappear.

[00:10:58] Murkta Anya: For me, I feel that [00:11:00] if the intention is there, then you canconnect with people. And we are lucky during this time we have. So many
different technological devices where you can connect with people you have in

[00:11:12] Murkta Anya: We have messenger We have videoconferencing. We have Skype. We have teams you have whatsapp your phones I mean
for me really It's a question of whether you want to connect with people or
not. So as a manager, when I took over my role, it was right in the middle of
COVID. It was September, 2020. I moved to Hong Kong from Singapore.

[00:11:33] Murkta Anya: My teams are spread in differentlocations, eight different locations in APAC. I have not visited all of them. I
only saw physically people in Hong Kong, but I'm connected to them. I have met
virtually. All my team across the region and it is still I feel as if I know
them because I'm connecting with them over our Skype or teams.

[00:11:59] Murkta Anya: [00:12:00]I WhatsApp with people. It is possible. Of course, it's always best when you
are face to face, but doesn't mean that you don't have any other means. If you
do not have the opportunity to travel because of all the Closures that we have
you have other ways if there is a will there is a way and for me Yeah,