Oktober inleds bra. Från och med idag har avrådan från resor till bl a. Sri Lanka hävts av svenska Utrikesdepartementet. Det innebär att många svenskar kommer att blicka mot paradisön för sin kommande semester. Att komma dit är inga problem. Flera svenska researrangörer har sedan tidigare Sri Lanka i sitt program. Jag är övertygad om att fler tillkommer framgent. Flera internationella flygbolag med goda förbindelser från Sverige landar också på Colombo flygplats. Emirates, Qatar, Air France, SwissAir, LOT Polish Airlines, Air India och Turkish Airlines förbinder kalla Norden med betydligt behagligare temperaturer.
Fler kommer också att få upp ögonen för Sri Lanka genom att ta del av tidningen Vagabonds senaste nummer. Sri Lanka-kännaren och journalisten på Vagabond, Per Andersson, har satt samman en härlig guide på 14 sidor där han listar 20 orsaker till att besöka Sri Lanka. Skynda att köpa ett nummer innan de tar slut.
Covid-situationen på Sri Lanka förbättras stadigt och det är numera enkelt för oss som har vaccinerats att besöka Sri Lanka. Utöver detta har Sri Lanka börjat genomföra en ännu enklare visumhantering för de som vill stanna längre än 30 dagar. Framgent kommer även Sri Lanka kunna vara en attraktiv destination för digitala nomader även från Sverige. Besök www.workfromanywhere.nu och läs om det fina erbjudande som svenska techbolag kan ta del av.
När vi kommer in på svenska techbolag måste Ascentic nämnas som tagit nya steg och exporterar svensk jämställdhet till Sri Lanka. De har infört en jämlik föräldraledighet för sina anställda. Jag är glad över att vara både affärspartner med dem, och stolt i rollen som generalsekreterare för Sweden-Sri Lanka Business Council som de naturligtvis är medlemmar i. SSLBC styrelse möttes nyligen i Linköping för att planera hur föreningen kan stötta relationerna mellan Sverige och Sri Lanka nu när båda länderna öppnar upp. Att vi möttes i Linköping var naturligt. En stad som mycket symboliserar samarbetat mellan våra två länder bl a. tack vare att IFS är på plats där med sitt HQ. Vi har också kunnat notera hur fler svenska techbolag investerar i Sri Lanka. Under sommaren/hösten har jag noterat minst tre och fler är på väg.
I frånvaro av svensk ambassad på Sri Lanka spelar den svenska affärsfamiljen på plats en viktig roll. För en tid sedan var jag inbjuden som svensk representant att delta i online årsmötet för Nordic Sri Lanka Business Council. Med på mötet var också den norska ambassadören, men hon har förmånen att verka från Colombo. Finland har valt att ha ambassadören placerad i Helsingfors och regelbundet besöka Sri Lanka. En lösning som fungerar mycket bra kunde jag konstatera tidigare i år då jag och den finske ambassadören var talare på ett webinar om Norden och Sri Lanka.
Göteborg kommer den kommande veckan att få besök från Sri Lankas ambassad i Stockholm. Detta då honorärkonsul Marcus Pettersson officiellt installeras av ambassadör Perera och konsulatet öppnar i nya lokaler. Sri Lanka och Västsverige har goda och starka förbindelser. Vi är många som ser fram emot hur dessa skall stärkas ytterligare.
Mat och litteratur är det bästa sättet att lära känna ett land. Kommande vecka finns stora möjligheter (om du är i Stockholm) att lära dig mer om det lankesiska köket. Kända kocken Carola Magnusson som bott på Sri Lanka har bjudit in sin gode vän och kände köksmästaren Rohan Fernadopulle till ett gästspel på Matmekka (Etnografiska Museet) och en (fullbokad) avsmakningsmeny på Stora Skuggans Värdshus. Det skall bli gott!
Nu blickar vi framåt och ser till att relationerna mellan lankeser och svenskar fördjupas ytterligare.
Article today in Sweden´s largest techpaper about Ascentic.
google translated. https://computersweden.idg.se/2.2683/1.752636/de-ska-locka-lankesiska-utvecklare–med-svensk-pappaledighet They want to attract Sri Lankan developers – with Swedish paternity leave Colombo-based development company Ascentic provides Swedish companies with software developers. And it is also Swedish values that the company has invested the most in to attract staff. Swedish companies’ constant search for software developers can lead to all possible and impossible effects. For Anna Kalm and her husband Patrik Alm, it has meant the start of a whole new life. Nowadays, they have taken their pick and pack and moved to Colombo in Sri Lanka, where they have built up the company Ascentic in recent years. The idea for the company was born when Anna Kalm worked as a partner manager at Microsoft. – What all companies had in common was that they had difficulty finding developers to grow, and to scale when demand increased, she says. However, it did not explain the address of the new company. It discovered the couple on their own in their spare time,- We had been on holiday in Sri Lanka and liked it very much, and we had talked for a long time about starting our own. My husband talked about tourism, but I who had a background in the IT industry was more eager for it, says Anna Kalm. Only Swedish customers and so it was, with Colombo as a base, and there is hardly a lack of IT skills. – There were many good companies that worked with off-shoring, especially against the UK, but also other countries. The government of Sri Lanka has invested heavily in IT training, so there is really a good business climate and a good starting point for building that type of company. So we resigned in 2016, Patrik from his job at ABB, and I from Microsoft. Then we sold the apartment and went all-in on this company. It was a lot of hard work during the first two years when we literally lived in the office. Since the start in April 2017, Ascentic has grown. Today, the company has around 80 employees, three of whom are based in Sweden to be close to customers. Namely, only Swedish customers are the company’s target group. Among the customers who take developer assistance from Ascentic today, we find companies such as Barnebys and Cuviva, but also IT consulting companies that need extra expertise, such as Consid and Bybrick. Swedish values and parental leaveThat it is an advantage to only work with Swedish customers is also understood based on the profile that the company has chosen to attract developers in the tough competition that exists in Colombo. There, they have chosen to attract developers with Swedish values, such as a flat organizational structure and parental leave. – In order to get hold of the best developers, we need to be able to offer a workplace beyond the ordinary. Right from the start, we have said that we want to build Sri Lanka’s best workplace, says Anna Kalm, who did not take it for granted that it would work.- Trying to build a Swedish-Sri Lankan corporate culture, it can be more or less of a clash. But for us, it is important to be a modern workplace, with high ceilings, where everyone should dare to express their opinion. Especially in software development, it is counterproductive to work hierarchically and top-down. Then you need input from everyone, and then it is generally important to have an open and good discussion climate, both large and small. Today, the company profiles itself as a company that works with ”swe lankan software development”, which so far has proven to work well. – Knowing Swedish values makes it easier to work with our Swedish customers, and most people also want to learn about what is happening in Sweden, and want to learn to understand Swedish culture. How do you get that message out from the beginning? Is it really possible to attract by working for a company with Swedish culture?- Above all, there has been word-of-mouth spread. From the time we started, we have been dependent on those who were very satisfied being able to spread it further. Sweden is a small country in this part of the world. What people like is how we try to build a good workplace. Those who come here have most often heard about the company culture, and it is more what sells from an employer branding perspective. Wants to provoke debateBut even though there are few who have an eye on Sweden, which in the usual order is often mixed up with Switzerland, it is something as Swedish as paternity leave that will be the next thing that will attract Sri Lankan developers.- We are making a change there now. Parental leave is not as widespread as in Sweden, so it is relatively easy for the company to have generous policies. Today, you are offered four months of parental leave for the mother, and only one day for the father. The industry looks like in Sweden. Girls often train in IT, but many drop out when they have children. What we are going to do now is introduce equal parental leave for both, with four months. It may sound a little to us in Sweden, but it is not in Sri Lanka, says Anna Kalm and states that it is now a matter of getting that message out. – We have thought that we will do something about it. We want it to provoke debate about the conditions, and about creating a gender-equal industry, so we hope that it will spread in the future. Do you know if it is something that is in demand at all? – No, therefore it will be very exciting to see how it is received. It is also about creating a balance and flexibility in working life, something that people have learned to appreciate now that they have worked at home during the pandemic. For Ascentic, it will also cost a lot to pay for those who want to be on parental leave, but that is not a deterrent. – We feel that it is worth making that investment. It is an important question to push if you want to get through that change. As far as we know, we will be the first company in Sri Lanka with that offer, so it will be exciting to see how it is received.
Sri Lanka-known in the IT Industry as the Island of Ingenuity -will redouble efforts to bolster the island nations IT enabling environment by creating even more dependable connectivity and infrastructure leading to a dynamic, competitive, innovative telecommunications milieu. Plans are set to establish 60 bps backbone connectivity in three years through the optical fiber submarine communications cable system or the Sea – Me – We cable that carries telecommunications between Sri Lanka and other nations.
A recent report in the island nation’s independent English-language weekly the Sunday Times quoted Chairman – Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC) Mr. Oshada Senanayake as saying ”The Sea – Me – We 6 submarine cable which would carry telecommunications between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe is now being discussed through the convergence of telco operators across the region. We are looking at adding a further 6o bps of backbone connectivity in three years when Sea – Me – We are ready”. The report states Sri Lanka is “working on one of the first-in-the-world submarine cable resilience programme with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Programme” and adds “The telco regulator has introduced a spectrum management framework to streamline spectrum allocation”. With a view to empowering innovation in the country, Sri Lanka will introduce sandboxing aimed at frequency testing which will give “spectrum to test certain Internet of Things (loT) projects etc.
Lanka is one of South Asia’s most innovative and dynamic IT and Business
Process Management (BPM) hubs. It is home to a vibrant knowledge solutions
industry that boasts an international footprint, with an accelerating number of
global firms that have discovered the country’s innovative prowess. Ranked
among the Top 15 Global Outsourcing destinations by AT Kearney, Sri Lanka are
ranked among Top 20 Emerging Cities by Global Services Magazine.
country’s rise to prominence as a global technology and BPM hub has been driven
by a number of strengths such as robust and niche talent base, strong industry
foundation, high value opportunities and a multi-faceted industry foundation,
high value opportunities and a multi-faceted industry.
Har varit här på Sri Lanka nästan en månad. Rutinerna kring karantän – valde härliga Heritance Ayruveda och kunde kombinera med sköna behandlingar – har fungerat väl. Även flyget, Qatar Airways, har gått smidigt. Bedömer att Sri Lanka under hösten kommer kunna välkomna svenska turister igen i större omfattning.
För oss som behöver smaken av Sri Lanka vill jag påminna om att i Järfälla finns Original Sri Lanka och i Eskilstuna Ceylon Spice Spot.
Delar en intervju med Mangala Karunaratne, grundare av Calcey Technologies. Mangala har en bakgrund i både Silicon Valley och Sri Lanka. Ett flertal svenska bolag har valt att arbeta med Calcey och därmed dra nytta av Sri Lankas IT-kompetens.
Although remote workspaces have mushroomed all throughout 2020, they aren’t necessarily a new concept. The industry of software development in Sri Lanka (and elsewhere, for that matter) has been providing offshoring services – which entails remote work by default. Together with reliable cloud support services, remote work has been made affordable and easy to setup, unlike the bulky video conferencing systems of yesteryear. If we are to go further down memory lane, home offices of qualified professionals such as architects and lawyers should also count as work-from-home concepts, now isn’t it?
We may have come a long way from isolated home offices, but pre-2020 still saw select organizations in equally select industries embracing remote work. Whether it was for sustaining multinational teams or offering flexibility, working from home was a novelty – and a luxury. As businesses emphasized on the importance of having teams based centrally in physical offices, the remote workspace concept was perceived as an embellishment (in spite of its many benefits). Come 2020, though, and remote work was not an embellishment anymore; it was an essential that determined whether your business stayed afloat, let alone thrived.
While this shift happened for obvious reasons, companies that were otherwise wary were now able to experience the myriad benefits of maintaining teams remotely. From cost-savings to increased employee efficiency, positive outcomes were tangible and very much rewarding. Considering the prevailing circumstances, remote teams are here to stay – at least for a while. Although remote work welcomes many desirable benefits, it’s still not absolute. Setbacks and loopholes still remain to be addressed. What distinguishes organizations that are successful at operating remotely from the rest is their ability to rectify or mitigate these very setbacks.
But before we delve into the nitty-gritty of what you can do to ensure your remote workspace thrives, learning about some of the most common setbacks brought on by remote work shall serve as a good starting point. This way, problems can be identified at the root, to then devise precise and targeted solutions.
The most common setbacks of remote workspaces
This may not be directly related to your business, as it is more socio-psychological. But increased feelings of isolation are the most common [unpleasant] outcome of remote work, in spite of all the autonomy and flexibility that employees get to enjoy. Spontaneously greeting a fellow coworker in the corridor or sharing quick banter with another in the cafeteria are subtleties we don’t realize we have been taking for granted – until we establish our workstations at home.
It is widely accepted knowledge that communication is more than just verbal; from gestures to body language, numerous factors intermingle to express one’s ideas and feedback. On top of that, the lack of in-person communication means that only methods such as email, instant messaging and video calling are available. As a result, there is a likelihood that items can ‘fall through the cracks’, so to speak.
While both isolation and communication gaps are fundamental setbacks when it comes to remote workspaces, they can be safely circumvented to promote greater productivity and employee well-being. The below pointers are aimed at resolving these setbacks. While your business will require customization to suit unique requirements, these tips and techniques can give you an understanding of what will work for your business, and vice versa.
Schedule regular meetings.
Regular online meetings are the cornerstone to successfully working on a remote basis, without a doubt. As teams geographically disperse across cities, states and even the world, the need to have meetings can feel deceptively unnecessary. On top of that, team members smoothly working to achieve deadlines can further make even the shortest of meetings feel redundant. While it is important to strike the right balance between productivity and downtime, the absence of a regular meeting schedule can lead to teams working in silos.
Silos have been a perpetual problem even in brick-and-mortar workplaces. So the lack of in-person attendance can further aggravate even the slightest of silos within a remote environment. Therefore, maintaining a meeting schedule which invites relevant team members to share updates and progress pertaining to the tasks they’re working on is a fundamental yet highly effective way to stay on top of things.
Ultimately, it is the frequency and productivity level of online meetings which indicate how successful a company is with its remote work practices. In turn, this helps to determine whether such a policy should be continued – as opposed to stripping flexibility from team members by requesting them to report to the office.
The technology of collaborating on one central document with multiple team members has been one of the most popular characteristics of modern business work processes. Facilitated by cloud computing, providers of hosted solutions are now a one-stop-shop for anything and everything pertaining to running a business on the cloud. Having no need to operate physical servers and other storage equipment, SaaS solutions have been a boon for companies both big and small to save money while enabling accessibility anywhere 24/7.
However, cloud providers have taken it a step further as organizations are now able to team up through dedicated partnerships (such as being an AWS partner, for instance). This offers companies everything that they need to run daily processes – while also scaling up or down if needed due to changing business circumstances. This has been one of the biggest driving factors for remote work in 2020. With quick setup and commitment-free pricing options, businesses are able to set the tone for what needs to be done, where, when and how – instead of the other way around.
Therefore, it is imperative for your business to collaborate on a real-time basis via hosted solutions. But, also think about how centralizing your company’s business systems on the cloud (or even hybridizing it by using a combination of cloud and on-premise components) can help your company reap the benefits of remote work in the long-term.
Conduct regular company and employee reviews/roundups.
While regular reviews are crucial in any company irrespective of whether work happens in-person or remotely, they become more crucial in the wake of fluctuating economic climates and job security concerns. Reviews can be done via online meetings on an individual, department and company level, to brief employees on where the organization currently stands and where it is headed.
Reviews can go beyond the latest company happenings to feature more value-additions for team members. For example, you can use this opportunity to cross-pollinate between departments, by demonstrating what members in other departments are accomplishing to the company at large. Again, this addresses the issue of company silos. So talking about how other business units are contributing can offer employees better insight on what they can do to contribute to a more refined and mutual business goal.
This not only helps to break an otherwise monotonous work cycle, but gives employees fresh insight on how they can leverage their own duties – while being involved in exchanges that encourage engagement and a sense of belonging.
Going beyond the basics
Schedule sessions to let off some steam.
As teams get engrossed with chasing deadlines day in and day out while being remotely distributed, the proverbial ‘chat by the water cooler’ becomes obsolete. Although a subtle few moments that aren’t given second thoughts when moving around a physical office, the absence of such happenstance interactions can really be felt when you’re working all by yourself from home. The void is ironically gaping for something that was otherwise known to be so anodyne. So how can you emulate similar experiences virtually?
This can range from being as simple as setting a particular day and time for ‘banter’ only, or organizing a fully-fledged eSports tournament for some extra fun. If it still feels like a stretch, simply creating an IM channel that is only dedicated to updates and conversations outside of what’s happening at work can inject some light-heartedness in an otherwise isolated and repetitive work cycle.
Participate in seminars/workshops.
This goes a notch above water cooler and gaming sessions, by arranging events that employees can attend for extra education/insight outside of work. With leading conferences now operating virtually, it is easier to gain access to international events right from the convenience of your PC or smartphone. Make the most of all the virtual access by sponsoring your employees to also attend such events. Whether it’s a panel discussion on career development or a demonstration of industry-specific technology trends, ask your team members to suggest what they would prefer to attend. While this empowers employees to gain exposure to the latest for advancing their careers, it also establishes a sense of rapport towards the company.
Alternatively, identify specific employees who would also be willing to conduct training sessions for fellow coworkers. An arrangement of this sort benefits both trainer and participant; while trainers get to practice thought leadership skills, participants glean hands-on knowledge from a colleague who they may already be familiar with.
Encourage heart-to-heart discussions.
This features a combination of remote work practices that need to be done consistently, from regular online meetings to virtual ‘water cooler’ or ‘happy hour’ sessions. On the other hand, sustaining an environment where employees are confident to voice their thoughts and feedback is the sign of a healthy workplace that’s coupled with strong leadership. Remote or not, it’s the calibre of leadership that will eventually determine how transparent your employees are with you. To put it simply, do they ever approach higher-ups to discuss concerns? If so, how often, and are there any specific topics that are most commonly broached?
While this isn’t specific to remote workspaces, the importance of encouraging open discussion is something that can never be stressed too much. Doing a combination of all the above pointers is what will establish the right mojo for employees to feel confident enough to share. This is something which business leaders need to now think about from a fresh new perspective, as remote work policies introduce the constraint of distance that needs to be alleviated for smoother communication.
To start, intently listen to what employees have to say during regular work meetings. Not every opinion may be viable or even executable. But intent listening will gradually yet organically instil a sense of trust in your employees – which will only strengthen rapport and transparency in the long run.
Remote work exploded in popularity and demand in 2020, and this trend is only here to stay – at least for a substantial period of time. Apart from offering unmatched flexibility and less downtime, remote work still comes with certain caveats. How well these setbacks are addressed will determine the overall success rate of your remote work policies. But at a time when remote workspaces are one of the most advisable solutions for business continuity, it is imperative that you establish a productive yet sustainable remote work environment for your teams to thrive in.
Isolation and gaps in communication are two of the most common setbacks when it comes to remote workspaces. However, both can be rectified by opting for a combination of good remote work practices that can get everyone accustomed to performing well within a distributed team.
Regular online meetings, while a basic requirement for remote work, is foundational for building transparency and trust amongst your team members. Real-time document collaboration not only removes version-related hiccups, but also vastly streamlines the remote work process. Regular reviews and roundups may once again be mundane, but they form an integral stepping stone towards understanding what really makes your employees tick all the way to an individual level.
Go beyond the basics by engaging your employees further via conferences, seminars, workshops and interactive training sessions that can be conducted by existing employees. Virtual water cooler sessions, happy hours and even gaming tournaments can further create positive buzz, thereby reducing the chronic isolation that can significantly impact employee productivity and well-being.