How Do We Create a New Normal in Times of Change?

By Michael Najm, Group IT Director Asia-Pacific

The disruption and impacts of COVID-19 have been vast and presented challenges for all of us, personally and professionally. As an organisation it’s been our responsibility to adapt at pace, find solutions quickly (to problems we never anticipated) and, most importantly ensure that our team is safe, connected and set up with the tools to enable them to go about their day to day lives with minimal disruption.

So how do you even begin and address this during a lockdown, with strict social distancing measures in place and technology barriers to overcome?

Progress, not perfection

As we began to put into effect our business continuity plan, there was an obvious benefit to fast-tracking further rollouts of our advanced workplace technology and productivity tools to boost; collaboration, communication, document management, remote working and connectivity, messaging and video conferencing.

With the urgency and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our mantra was one of progress, not perfection. As soon as tech features and capabilities could meet our strict standards and were deemed ready, we released them to our teams. The aim was to put the right tools, in the right hands as quickly as possible.

To help our people, we set up a dedicated support nerve-centre to help the team on a one on one basis and manage teething problems as they arose. In addition, there’s also the regular communications on what was planned, taking place and changing as we managed the transition.

Difficult times can drive positive outcomes

It goes without saying that these have been incredibly difficult times for everyone.

Admittedly, from a technology perspective, the COVID-19 disruption side effect for IRI has actually helped to drive even faster and more widespread adoption of our workplace technology tools as access and usage have been crucial for the team to connect and get the job done. We’ve seen fantastic engagement and collaboration across the board, which is a testament to our team’s ability to adapt and change at pace.

As a collective the IRI team has rallied together and looked out for each other daily. Frequent video calling for face to face contact has been essential for our team; it’s helped those that are isolated solo with a chance to catch up in ‘real-life’, given parents who are juggling homeschooling and work-life a chance to open up and share, as well ensuring that we keep the traditional Friday afternoon team catch up over beers going. Technology hasn’t created barriers; it’s assisted with building connections in a genuine and meaningful way. So while social distancing has kept us apart, our forced adoption of workplace technology has ultimately bought us closer together – virtually.

What lies ahead is still unknown

As renowned business educator and writer Peter Drucker wisely said; “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, it’s to act with yesterday’s logic”.
I think it’s fair to say that turbulence is an understatement when it comes to the impacts and cultural experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. So much is still unknown, but what’s become clear in the past few months is that keeping our team connected and enabled is essential. Not only so we can maintain the social connections that sustain us, but so we’re able to continue to operate as a cohesive and successful team who are empowered to innovate and problem-solve with the future in mind  for the new normal that lies ahead. 

Michael Najm, Group IT Director Asia-Pacific

Michael is part of the Asia Pacific executive team and leads the technology remit for the region. He is focused on effectively and innovatively leveraging the power of technology to drive strong business outcomes and value for clients.

Michael has over 18 years of expertise in IT and business transformation, strategy formulation, portfolio management, operational and service excellence.

His career has spanned across a diverse range of industries within public and private sectors varying in size and complexity.



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