From a distance, leaders rethink remote work
June 10, 2020
In one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, the CIO of Assaí says: “many people have started to buy online, and this consumption habit will remain” For over a month with the team working in the home office, André Campos realizes that his work in moving from physical to remote has changed very […]
Written by: Digibee

In one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, the CIO of Assaí says: “many people have started to buy online, and this consumption habit will remain”

For over a month with the team working in the home office, André Campos realizes that his work in moving from physical to remote has changed very little. The CIO of Assaí Atacadista, arm of Grupo Pão de Açúcar in the self-service wholesale segment, continues to observe itself as a facilitator of the performance of its team. “I am responsible for several people, and my role of directing and creating the best environment so that they can do the job continues as usual”, he says, bringing a little logic to a moment of so many uncertainties.

André considers the proximity of his colleagues essential, regardless of hierarchical level, and kept the door open for dialogue, without filters, even though he is now framed on a distant computer screen. Daily meetings, individual calls – once a week – with your direct reports and virtual happy hours have become routine. “Sometimes, people just want to chat,” he says.

But not everyone fits into this new reality with the naturalness of the CIO of Assaí. The frequent interactions of leaders with their employees in the home office can mean and demonstrate something else: insecurity.

Are people at home really working? Are they doing the eight-hour journey? Questions like these can arise when the culture of remote work in the company has not yet been assimilated, creating a certain “vigilance” about people. And if this discussion had already taken place before the forced change of work model, now, with the new reality of mass isolation, the difficulty of commanding teams at a distance became more evident.

André realizes this concern in the conversation with colleagues who hold management positions: “There are a lot of people who still have the perception that people will take ‘advantage’ from the home office, working little”, he says. The need tends, however, to overcome the old mentality. According to a Gartner survey of 229 HR leaders, published in April this year, 41% of employees are expected to work remotely, at least part of the time, after the pandemic – by the beginning of the year, that figure was 30%.

Another survey by the consultancy, released in the same period and which heard more than 250 CFOs, showed that 74% of them intend to put at least 5% of their employees in remote work, permanently, when the pandemic crisis ends.

Prioritizing the capacity and quality of delivery, instead of controlling employee processes, is a lesson that managers will have to learn once and for all, in the vision of Vitor Sousa, co-founder and COO of Digibee. “Some leaders are still watching if the employee is at his desk, or if he is surfing the internet, when all they need to do is manage the ‘deliverable’ and provide conditions for people to develop. This working model is already widely applied in squads and represents a crucial difference in the modus operandi ”, says the COO. As Vitor jokes, even Peter Parker, in the film “Spider-Man” (2002), assimilated the learning: “With great powers come great responsibilities”.

Contrary to what most skeptical leaders might have predicted, André and Vitor noticed an increase in productivity, and also in commitment, during the isolation period. This was what the CIO of Assaí realized during the key moment of March 2020, with the mass migrations (1,200 people, from sectors such as administration and marketing) to the home office. With the structural demands resolved “in real time”, André found, first, that the available technology supported the change. After that, the IT team got the job done.

“Staying close to the team has been the great magic for this [productivity] to happen. And what I did, too, was not to change anything at all: I didn’t take priorities off, I didn’t reduce workload and I kept deadlines. It worked very well, and deliveries were made quickly, with the same quality, ”he says.

Post-pandemic remote work reinvention

The team’s unity and proximity are even more relevant at the moment because, in the words of the CIO of Assaí, the business will be different after the isolation. “In the first place, many people started to buy online, and this consumption habit will remain. Everyone will have to learn to sell through other non-physical channels and reinvent themselves. That includes us, ”says André.

With this potential explosion of e-commerce, companies are looking for the best strategies to establish their online operations. In the case of service wholesale, this migration involves greater obstacles, as customers have totally different profiles – from entrepreneurs and resellers to the average retail consumer. Everyone seeks wholesale in search of a lower price.

“In our wholesale, we have people making purchases of the month, another doing store replacement and another who goes there to buy two pallets of beer. And we have some option application services, which charge a fixed freight price. But some things you take in the trunk of the motorcycle, others in a truck. In other words, balancing logistics is the biggest difficulty in this shift to e-commerce. The aggregate cost is very high ”, says André.

Other barriers come into question: the fact, for example, that a large number of people access the store simultaneously – including application shoppers, who often take time to find the item ordered by the customer. All of this can lead to service problems and long lines at the checkout counter. Unlike ordinary markets, the wholesale service was not designed for this purpose.

Vitor, from Digibee, agrees with the retailer’s difficulty in going to e-commerce, citing the availability of stock in the electronic service as a complicated point. He mentions alternatives that may include, for example, a technological solution that associates the store’s stock with the availability of products informed in e-commerce, in order to avoid chargebacks and problems at the time of purchase. In this case, the negotiation is only concluded when the item is effectively separated for the customer.

“The big problem with retail is inventory and operation. There are difficulties with digital operation, and that is the point. When technology supports a viable operation, where the store is the central point, then we start to create a good path for retail companies ”, points out the COO.

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