S01 E09: Importance of Human Connect in a Remote Environment

Kailash Ganesh
32 min read

The latest episode of Culture Club is a masterclass with Homi Tarapore. He is the Chief Human Resources Officer at India’s leading full-service financial house, Trust Group. Currently based in Mumbai, Homi has an experience of about twenty years in the Human Resources field. He has worked in reputed organisations like Aditya Birla Retail Ltd., HDFC Securities, India Infoline Ltd., WNS, and more.

Ketan (Head of People Functions, Rentomojo) introduces Homi as someone who is an evangelist of people, human behavior, and technology coming together and solving larger problems. He’s one of the few people who have the rare combination of being both an ideator and taking action—a combination that not a lot of people have.

In his conversation with Ketan and Senthil (Founder and CEO, CultureMonkey), Homi shares his views on company culture and employee engagement, and how most leaders and CXOs face the challenge of integrating and bringing these two together.

Homi focuses on the change in work culture over the past few decades and how it has contributed to a multitude of changes in work patterns. He believes that every change leads to a set of patterns which in turn changes other elements.

The trio goes on to discuss connectivity, adaptability, the motivation of employees, and more, while also focusing on the need for HRs to evolve.

Listen to the entire session to gain insights into Homi’s ideologies and learn more about what it means to be an HR professional in the current situation.


Ketan [00:00:13] Homi Tarapore, thank you for joining in and I will add a context there, why am I here? I partnered with CultureMonkey for RentoMojo because I've seen the engagement of the world and when I heard this story of engineers trying to solve a problem and when I actually looked at the product, I literally fell in love with the product. It actually brought a lot of things that I have been trying to solve. We've seen this while working at organizations at the Aditya Birla level or when I was working with great places to work. But I was amazed to see the engineer trying to solve this problem and the product was really well. Of course, there's a lot that needs to be built over time.

Ketan [00:01:01] But that's where I connected and when I realized that there's no HR guy who's been involved in this because they drew the inspiration from a company of 15-20 people and they realized there's been no attrition, they've been able to engage people, people were supercharged, I think they brought that into a solution and I was like, okay, I need it too and I thought, whatever I learn, can I add value to their product or thinking process? So that's where I get in and a very important thing that we realize is like while I have my own set of views, a lot of leaders, a lot of people out there have a lot of point of view which I think is going to be important to build the product better.

Ketan [00:01:47] Culture Monkey is about listening to employees. I think what we realize is that we need to listen to the people who are driving and are setting the agenda as HR in the industry. Because of two sides of what you build in a product and so forth. So that's what brought me here and that's why I started to reach out to people that I know who have a point of view which I think is going to be important for HR folks because that's our target audience and of course, this team can pick up and work on an enhanced product.

Ketan [00:02:20] So that's how I got connected.

Senthil [00:02:24] Very well said, to add one point here, our core strength is technology. We have solved multiple technological problems and we never had this HR layer, if you spoke to me a year ago, you'd be like, 'oh, you have no idea what you're talking about'. But this journey of gelling with people leaders has starved us and most importantly, it has installed so much about the problems that can be solved through technology. Now we are automatically thinking like HRs, thinking like the people leaders, thinking like CHROs. So that's a very, very humbling purpose to, now even the words that we use, the slang that we use internally, I just started to change. Back to you, Ketan.

Ketan [00:03:21] Thank you, Senthil and for the audience, I have Homi Tarapore with me. Homi is the CHRO for the Trust group and it's an organization based out of Mumbai. He has worked with brands like HDFC Securities and Aditya Birla Retail and that's where I've met and I will talk a bit about that later and several other brands. He has about 20 years of experience and a very interesting thing that you would find on his profile, he believes in people, human behavior, and technology. I think he is somebody who is an evangelist of these coming together and solving a larger problem. He believes in a lot of introspection and traveling and music. So that's kind of Homi for you.

Ketan [00:04:17] I know another thing that is not written out there, but I know I can call it out, he has been a boxer in his college days. He has been physically very fit, I said. He said, 'you don't know? I have been a boxer. Not that, he used this to ensure that we were working harder but it was a general conversation. A core belief that he carries is that everything good can become better over a hearty conversation. So I think it's a good mix of kind and hard together is what I experienced. I know Homi from Aditya Birla Retail days and I was as a management trainee, literally pushed into retail and the task that was given is that we have to hire some 400, 500 people a month, you have to be a part of the machinery, you will be given a candidate name and offer in the comp sheet, prepare an offer and send.

Ketan [00:05:18] I did that a lot and then somebody says that, okay, this is a pretty senior person in HR and I had no idea that he was going to become my boss. He was worth what we hired, but the amount of patience that he had on that call. He would ask that typically the compensation structure is more than excel. Now, he would ask questions and I said, 'okay Homi, give me time. I'll come back' and then I will go, get details and then talk to him.

Ketan [00:05:50] But not a single point, he ever lost patience because he probably understood the context where I was coming from, and if I remember something which is almost like 13 years back that it happened to me, which means it mattered to me, that's one very important thing. It was easy for him to say, 'hey, you guys don't even know what you're solving for?'. But for me, that mattered. I was fortunate enough, I think he joined up. I started reporting to him, he's been a mentor to me he's been an ideator, he's been an action taker. His strategic outlook is perfect. I have usually seen this combination to be rare.

Ketan [00:06:40] A lot of people are either action takers or very strong and strategic. That at least is something that I've always looked upon to him and learned from him. So this is what Homi is for me. In my book, a lot of chapters are inspired by him at a moment when he created a change in me. To tell you something, he's kind of a boss that I can work with many more times. He's been very amazing and I'm not mincing words definitely here. Welcome again to Culture Club's e-culture Masterclass powered by Culture Monkey. If you could hear more from you about your organization and to the audience, I think that's a start.

Homi [00:07:36] Thank you, Senthil and Ketan for inviting me here, thanks for such kind words, Ketan. I'm quite humbled actually, I'm quite touched here. I'll take about a few seconds to come to the tone and speak with you all. It's quite emotional to understand how a colleague with whom you have worked and likewise with Ketan. Ketan has been a phenomenal learner when we interacted, there are a lot of things that I learned from him. Though he mentioned his learning, in fact, I also learned from him as a colleague, I liked the promptness and the urgency he put into every kind of task that came between us while we were executing the work.

Homi [00:08:36] I think that is something I take as a big pride for me that I had an opportunity where I could learn from my colleague, how to put an urgency in a certain task and so that we completed in time. That is one, second is, whenever I work with Ketan, I enjoyed one part is that he completely understood the concept of the task. I mean, the whole principle of the task and then execute it, he just didn't go all out, just executing without thinking. So there was a lot of application of mind and heart towards a particular job and then he goes on about executing. That is something I quite appreciate. I mean then and as well whenever we could get an opportunity to work together. I think that would be a wonderful experience for both of us too. So that's something.

Homi [00:09:37] I will give a gist about our organization, I work for a company called Trust Group, we're into financial services, I would call that we are a young organization because we have just about to complete 20 years from now. If you look at an age like human beings, till about 19, you're a teenager and then you go to the 20th year, you're out of teen, we are also on a similar journey. So, what happens in our journey like this is that organization also is young, has its set of beliefs, has a set of way of doing things, and when the organization is looking at growing, the growth in an environment which is changing, in a whole ecosystem which is changing, in that growth, how do you assimilate all the kind of knowledge and the information in the market? how do you get the right people on board?

Homi [00:10:28] Now, these are things that are quite challenging and my job with the organization is to bring in alignment off the growth journey that the organization has thought for themselves, taking along the current people and also acquiring a new talent joining the organization. So that's the organization as a personality. We take a lot of pride in saying that we are like a knowledge workforce because we believe in a lot of innovation as an organization, in innovation in products that we bring in. Thought and the subject is that our organization brings in the areas that are very well respected among the industry.

Homi [00:11:13] So our organization, our leaders, our promoters are very well respected in the entire fraternity. Our range of work is from institution relationships to now beginning to move into retail relationships I mean, an individual relationship now from institutional to individualism, that's the journey that we are getting into. We've got about a couple of businesses predominantly in the debt asset class, we have a dominance there.

Homi [00:11:44] We also have the asset class, we have an organization, we've also ventured into wealth management space about a couple of years back and we are also looking at kind of a long shot for newer businesses. So there are a lot of names and a lot of brand work will happen eventually because the new business that we are getting into are of quite of interest to the individual clients as well, along with the institution plants.

Homi [00:12:17] As far as me, Ketan already mentioned about my journey of 20 years, I've always enjoyed working with the entrepreneurs from the start of my career, I always believed that the kind of learnings that I had with entrepreneurs is immense, something where I'm able to value add as a professional. So the journey has been from organizations which are looking to grow, the organization which is looking to transform, the organization which is looking to stabilize certain elements, that has been the journey for me and throughout the journey, I've met several people with whom I had a good opportunity to learn.

Homi [00:13:15] At the same time, in this journey, I've also been able to influence the essence of human relations in the organization and the workforce. Now, that is something I think, I did capitalize on in the last two decades of my experience. It is very important that when you work with multiple stakeholders, the whole engagement of our relationship between the work, the workforce, and the management has to be linked up and aligned and that is where I've been able to contribute meaningfully. Yes, there's still a lot of scope for learning. I mean, all of us keep on learning and discovering new things, I keep that open. But, yes, I've been able to do that.

Homi [00:14:04] As far as industry is concerned, a large part of my career, I've spent in the financial services industry. I had a stint with Ketan, in the monetary telling segment, that's been there. Yes, BFSI is the sector where I have contributed a lot. But all in all, be it any industry, it is the people who have the same emotion, the same request, and the same issues all across and that's where the product that you're introducing, Senthil, becomes very important because anything that is around engagement or anything that's around the concept of culture is important in every industry.

Homi [00:14:53] It is just that the talent in the particular industry is executing their expertise, but the emotions are the same. So that's a small brief about my professional work and the organization that I work for.

Ketan [00:15:19] Can you share your views and experience on this entire concept of culture, engagement? What do you see and what has been your experience? I think that's a point that we would definitely like to hear your point of view.

Homi [00:15:34] Okay, so the very good and interesting question, Ketan, and this is a question that we have read about while we were in our colleges and school institutions. We read a lot of articles about cultural engagement, we have ourselves experienced when we are in the job phase. I would say before I just shared about culture and engagement, I will also share about the way the work scenarios are changing in the last couple of decades. So, if you look at what happened between 1960-80s, then what happened between the 1980s-90s, 1990-2000, so there is a change of the working environment which kept from happening and interestingly, we will have to be aware when India started growing in the certain sectors like, IT and services which had a big boom between 1920 and 2005, there's a lot of change in the work pattern also happened.

Homi [00:16:50] In the last decade what we're seeing is a complete evolution of the e-commerce businesses coming in, again there is a change of work patterns that are happening. Now, why I'm sharing this because every time a change is happening, a new set of work patterns and culture is being built. So culture is, when I'm saying culture, the way I understand very much the changing environment and the changing lead of the industry and the country or the world when we look at a particular organization.

Homi [00:17:26] Now, it's a very vast subject, it's a concept that everybody talks about but very difficult when you look at implementing something or driving something when you say that, this is exactly what we are on to because what we understand by culture is, it is a set of values and belief system. Now, it is a belief system built by the people who are the core of building the organization.

Homi [00:17:51] So, again if I take you to the example that I'm sharing, the e-commerce industry, you had a lot of organizations that cropped up in the last 10 years. Now they have a typical set of behavior and typical set of approaches to executing a job. Now they are among the set of beliefs, they have actually built in a culture wherein that forms the overall value system of the organization. Now, when an employee is looking at joining a particular company like the one in the example that I shared, the person, the employee has to align with the set of cultures, which is there set as a system by the organization.

Homi [00:18:36] Similarly, if I if you go back to the 1990s, early 1990s where you had a big boom in the banking industry, what had happened when a lot of private banks started in India, many of the talent pool in the banking industry actually moved from multinational banks to the private banks. So when they move from the multinational bank, the ethos of the work systems is what they carried is a very multinational banking kind of a system belief is what they've brought into the private banking and though that's all that came in.

Homi [00:19:10] So the workforce talent who joined these banks and these organizations at that period of time had to adapt and align with those belief systems. Okay, what was there? it was more structured, it was more process-driven, it was more timeline driven and now if you look at the e-commerce industry, everything is happening at the moment. It's moment-based, idea-based. So I'm just trying to build a concept around this thing and how culture is in every organization when they are building a value system around it.

Homi [00:19:54] Now, I would say employee engagement is definitely interlinked with culture but culture, of course, plays a larger role in the overall way the person gets employed in the organization and how he/she develops himself or herself in that journey within the organization. Now, engagement, the way I understand, of course, it's one's individual motivation and drive to commit to getting the job done or the relationship with the job and then with the organization. So, yes, I would say many times engagement, as such people do try to combine engagement along with the culture as a concept.

Homi [00:20:47] No, I would say that these are two independent concepts. Culture, of course, forms a part of the entire values and the belief system of the organization. Now, engagement, I would again say, is the motive or the drive of the individual to perform that. Now motivation is again very individual. My set of beliefs and my sort of thinkings, maybe something which I may not like in a particular organization, and as an individual, I may choose to continue or not continue with the organization.

Homi [00:21:22] Depending on what my motives are and what my interest levels are, so that is where it gets very, very challenging for leaders, the CXOs, how do you integrate these two things and bring it together. So it becomes a job by itself because these are two different independent elements that I would like to say. I said I tried to be as simple as possible. But, I have no idea if you understood what I said.

Senthil [00:21:54] You started by saying that culture is very difficult, it's very complex. But everything every word that you said, I wanted to listen to more of you. It feels like, hey, let's meet. It's very amazing.

Ketan [00:22:11] If I take this concept of e-culture right now and world going remote, which is why Nasscom which says that, most IT giants are looking at moving to work from home for as high as possible. This is not a temporary change, but these could be massive ones and they are the companies that have a large set of employees. Now, what challenges do you think the CXOs have dealt with or dealing with, especially in terms of culture when the world is going remote, what's your point of view around that?

Homi [00:23:07] So it's a good question and a tough one as well because we are all experiencing that and we are in the environment. I'll tell from whatever I've been experiencing what I've been gathering information, knowledge by my discussions with the leaders within our organization, outside our organization in the fraternity which is there. So I think, one of the things that have happened during COVID19 is that there's been a complete disruption of the way we're working, and the biggest challenge the CXOs are facing today is about uncertainties.

Homi [00:24:18] Now, these uncertainties are of year and now and of the immediate future, to put up a better perspective, the big challenge of the CXOs is how do you navigate through these uncertainties which are currently placed on the table and how do you navigate through this uncertainty? Now, very specifically, if I bring you and draw you to our topic of discussion, which is around culture and engagement, I think there are a couple of challenges which come to our notice and what I feel.

Homi [00:25:03] The first and foremost is connectivity. Now, when we are looking at remote operation, now connectivity in terms of IT connectivity and also in terms of the physical infrastructure that is provided to the employee. Now, when we look at this, the remote work and arrangement for the employee or the talent pool have to be effectively available.

Homi [00:25:31] Now that is one of the worries which is there because when COVID19 happened, we all moved into this arrangement overnight, there were a few challenges. But as we are deciding what's going to happen, post COVID19 and if you're gonna continue with the remote working arrangement, whichever way it is, this is going to be a top priority for all the CXOs to ensure that the connectivity is good enough.

Homi [00:25:59] Second, because there is a shift in the way of working from the traditional working system to a remote working system because you're not having enough physical accessibility with your colleagues, you're in virtual accessibility with your colleagues. The whole work and work management have changed.

Homi [00:26:17] I think that the second part, the challenge which the CXOs are dealing with is that what are the small innovations, the employees are gonna introduce in the work practices because there is a lot of change that is going to happen in work practices and little small innovations that you do in work practices are going to help a lot, and that is a big worry that the CXOs are thinking, these change or this small changes or innovation that we do, will it be implemented effectively or not and there has to be a lot of drive and initiative from the entire workforce to bring in this.

Homi [00:27:00] There has to be understanding and flexibility by the workforce employees and the management that okay, this is a newer environment, and second, how do I or how do we bring in the small changes and innovation in these practices? and that's a big worry.

Homi [00:27:17] The third, I think definitely is around the motivations of the employees. Now, if we go back to the theory of motivation, you have motivation X, motivation Y, motivation. Now, there are people who enjoy working like to work in any given environment and there are people who would take every opportunity to avoid work. Now, how do you ensure that the teams are motivated enough and how do you ensure they come together and work together and are able to deliver the result that is expected?

Homi [00:27:52] The fourth is about human connection. Now, I have also figured out that in our working environment, what is happening, if I go back to the pre-COVID days when in the regular environment, remote working was existent earlier as well, it's just that we are forced to get into this as fast as possible. But earlier also, it was there and nobody took the advantage of remote working earlier. But what I observe is that in the human connection, a lot of people enjoy coming to the office, workplace and interacting with people and that is something which is a very, very important element.

Homi [00:28:33] Many people want to have this environment. You have a home environment where you have your familiar environment and you work there and you contribute at your home environment, then you want to come to the office environment where you want to meet and there is a need to interact with different kinds of people personally, and that also gives a lot of motive, that also gives a lot of motivation and inspiration to people to come there.

Homi [00:28:57] Just to give an example, when we conducted two internal surveys within our organization during the initial period of the lockdown, there's very strong feedback coming from our employees saying that they are looking forward to coming to the office and meeting people because that is something a source of inspiration for them to come there. So, I mean, that's we cannot take that out. So that's a big challenge.

Homi [00:29:28] Then comes to balance, now balance when it comes to working integration balance, how do you balance the work-life as well as the health and well-being of the team members? Now that, of course, it is very subtly coming and slowly that word of balance is becoming stronger. You will see that in at least by giving it about seven / eight months. This whole word of balance is going to be talked about in all the webinars and forums.

Homi [00:30:00] Because what's happened in these remote working, because of the anxieties from both parties by the leaders as well as by the team members, because of the anxiety, everybody has started by engaging much stronger, longer, they've started giving more time and more time to the work area. So the limits of the timing of work are actually being exceeded in most of the occasion when the remote looking was forced upon everyone, all the organization everybody was anxious and because of this anxiety, everybody started and giving in extra effort to this work timings and what happens is when you're putting a lot of time on the work front because of the anxiety, you are actually missing a lot to do with your health and balance.

Homi [00:30:59] Now, one has to recognize that element of balance and one has to bring in and balance it and beyond. I would say that the leaders of the organization play a big role as to how they want to set it up and of course, that's one of the big worries that they also have and lastly, in the set of challenges, I think acceptance is a big challenge. To accept the fact that remote working is for a year and to continue is something both parties have to accept and start adapting to this change.

Homi [00:31:37] Because the more time we take to accept it, we're just procrastinating and pushing our decision to actually get into this new arrangement and start working. I think that acceptance is a big challenge many of the CXOs are dealing with now because we still feel that coming to a physical accessibility kind of a work arrangement will give you better productivity. That's the thinking, many of them have, They're trying to shift this whole dimension of thinking. I think these are the challenges that are there.

Ketan [00:32:06] Glad you brought that out because I'm also speaking to a lot of organizations on, from Rentomojo we are trying to create this work from home solution. Now, a lot of human behavior and decision making is changing, I realized that when I came to Bangalore, I took a house which was very close to the office paying an 'X' amount. Now, I'm thinking that I should move to a bigger house in another place. Now there is no attachment for me to stay close to the office because at best, I will go once or twice to the office.

Ketan [00:32:42] I think that's fine even if I have to drive for three hours, I think mentally that is absolutely okay. I was not alone when I started to speak to a lot of people, this just makes sense because then I'd go to a cleaner and a better and a far more open area where the weather was very, very pleasant. But they are also contemplating, does it make it simple actually either move to a bigger place or a different place or a place which is far more personalized or even save money, I think any of those benefits.

Senthil [00:33:14] One point I was able to relate to when talked about acceptance is, so we hired an engineer and designer just around March 1st, 2nd week behind engineer designer without knowing what's going to happen and then the first month they spent, I was okay, let's see, when we get back because a lot of training, we can't remotely onboard them and then after the second and third month, Now I said, I remember this 'no more other strategies, we have to accept this and move forward'. Because you accept it or not, it's going to be there.

Ketan [00:34:09] In the second part, I think you have shared about things like balance and acceptance. Now, what is it positive? Is there a silver lining that you see that COVID has brought to light?

Homi [00:35:35] Yes, I think there are good positives which are actually coming here. One, when I look at productivity, now the people are, this is going to be a very highly debatable topic for some time now, traditional working Vs remote working and productivity. Now, I think the work from home arrangement is an arrangement that provides the employee a lot of flexibility to execute the work at his or her comfort, and when you want any delivery coming in, you don't want your employer to be anxious.

Homi [00:36:20] You want the person to be in a very comforting mindset to execute the work and I'm talking about the nature of work which can happen through remote working, maybe there is a specific type of job which may be required to coming up to work office but there are many types of work which can actually happen through a remote arrangement and they would actually positively look at the entire flexibility provided.

Homi [00:36:50] I think that can connect with productivity very well. Now, when I look at productivity, I'm not talking about the outcome because that is a separate discussion when I put productivity in line with our topic of discussion of engagement and building of culture. Now, what has happened, this entire thing has developed productivity because the employees are becoming more compliant to the virtual meetings, to the remote engagement and remote processes that they are having.

Homi [00:37:27] So they are getting a complaint in that they are becoming better coordinated in their efforts because everybody is forced into the situation. So they are consciously thinking that they have to coordinate the work much better than what it was earlier because when our earlier environment, it's a different environment, many a time things get taken for granted but here you're consciously putting an effort.

Homi [00:37:48] Collaboration, I think one of the big parts. I have seen the collaboration has actually the level of engagement and collaboration has gone up significantly. Not only in our organization, but I have also been talking to other organizations as well and I've figured out because this has happened so suddenly, people have actually started collaborating much better through this arrangement.

Homi [00:38:15] Now, expression, one of the big things is, I remember when you were doing a town hall in a workplace environment, many of them are not even asking questions and many of them are distracted with what is happening around them. Now, in a virtual sort, we've run a couple of town halls and I've seen the quality of questions that are coming in very good questions. So when you're in a virtual meeting what happens in a virtual conference, nobody is thinking about who's at what position.

Homi [00:38:54] You are just at a screen, I'm at the screen and you just freely, there's an exchange of questioning and the ideas which are happening and that is beautiful. I think that is something that is encouraged. Not only the leader, the leader has come closer to the employee and the employees are also coming closer to the management and that is a big positive.

Homi [00:39:15] I also think what is going to happen is that organizations and teams and the CXOs, now will not be worried about what kind of office premises I should have. Everybody is going to be worried about what kind of laptop or a computer I want to provide to my workforce, what kind of telecommunication system he or she has so that I'm able to connect to the person more effectively and there's dimension shift of the work arrangements from the office space to actually a lot of focus on the IT and communication kind of thing.

Homi [00:39:53] Lastly, what I think is a big, big, big plus is I think there is a big good shift in the level of conversations that are happening. It's not. communication, it's the conversation, it's the material of the conversation that has improved significantly built due to this remote arrangement which has come in because when I'm engaging or when two people are engaging, they know what subject they want to talk about. There is no additional no extra distraction in the conversation, they stick to the conversation, the quality of conversation improved a lot.

Ketan [00:40:40] Interesting, thank you. So what do you think this means for the HR fraternity, what all things would it redefine, a lot of people who are going to listen to this are going to be HR folks, I think very important to hear from you about what do you think it's going to change for the HR fraternity as we imbibe this new normal, whatever we call it?

Homi [00:41:12] For the HR fraternity, if you refer to my first when I'm giving the context of the experience and what I share is that whether it is a different industry or different working arrangement, the basics of HR is going to be there and people need to just stick to that. The basics of HR will not change. One area where there's going to be a little bit of shift and how the entire HR or group of people are going to focus on or work on is talent solutions.

Homi [00:41:51] I am calling it more like a talent solution that involves the whole elements of work. Now that would involve an element of mobilizing people. Now, how do you mobilize people? Earlier it has a lot to do with location, here it is not location, it is assignments. So there's a focus on the assignment. Assignments may be a short assignment, long assignment, so how do you mobilize the talent around that?

Homi [00:42:19] How do you figure out the gaps in skills and reskill your talent within the organization? Because there will definitely be a strong drive in getting the entire workforce digitally enhanced, right from the top to bottom, including the HR professionals. They have to be digitally upgraded. And that is going to be there. So that's going to be the main area and how do you upskill and reskill around that.

Homi [00:42:54] I also feel as I said in the mobilization, there's also going to be a change in the work design. So the HR will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how the world designs will keep on changing and how to provide designs for a particular specific period looking at a particular assignment or a job in addressing that particular challenge. So, a flexible work designing, talent mobilization, and reskilling and upskilling is going to be a continuous process, that is why I'm calling it talent solutions that HR will have to work at.

Homi [00:43:28] Apart from this one, on the qualitative side, I think HR will have to level up their engagement of counseling because counseling is going to be one area where the HR profession needs to upgrade their understanding of how the counseling processes are executed and how do you deal with the employee or a member and counsel the person through a particular situation. So there has to be an upgrade on the level of counseling which I think HR has to do. These are a couple of things that are newer and the rest is going to be the basics.

Homi [00:44:14] See, I'm not talking about words like adaptability, agility, and all that because that is for any environment whether it is remote working, change, if I change from financial services, I go to a different industry, I have to adapt and be agile to understand. So that's a given, these are all given. But the core around here is the flexible work designs, mobilization of talent, reskilling and upskilling, and the digital upgrade for the entire workforce.

Ketan [00:44:47] If I take this question ahead, while there is a professional role, there are also a lot of questions on what happens to a career, career path, growth progression. I think as individuals, there are also a lot of questions that we see are popping up. So what are the new things that you personally believe that individuals who want to make it and continue into corporate space need to imbibe and embrace in this new world?

Homi [00:45:16] I think part of it was in the previous comment that I shared is one of the things is everybody, as I said, digital learning in the new environment has to be top to bottom and one has to upgrade himself or herself in the space. So, for example, if I am an HR professional and if I do not know how machine learning or an AI technology, at least the concepts of it work and what are the benefits that I would get, then I think I'm not doing justice to my role and to the organization.

Homi [00:45:53] So this means I need to enroll myself and get a certain understanding of the fundamentals of how it works. So that I'm able to apply it, similarly for every individual in their respective space, they need to have this upgrade and I think in a week and not avoided because it is gonna be an integrated part of your profession. So you have your subject expertise and you will have your digital understanding of other work habits. So one has to get these two things together.

Homi [00:46:21] The second thing I think, the second part for individuals is on the mindset. The mindset has to be flexible and agile because when I'm interacting or I'm executing a particular job in this new arrangement, the nature of the job as I shared in the earlier comment could be different. So the nature of the job is the kind of job they're doing and the time period of the job.

Homi [00:46:50] It can be a short time period. It can be a long time period. So one has to prepare that mindset to be in that and also when you're saying that the speed of change, how faster you accept and move around things is what individuals will have to look at. I would also say, here what's going to happen because corporates, companies are going through their own set of challenges with their remote arrangement and you have the entire workforce who are also experiencing changes.

Homi [00:47:20] But if the workforce can focus on assignments which are there and adapt around themselves, around the assignments, digitally upgrade themselves and the corporates encourage their entire workforce to digitally upgrade themselves and have a workflow or a framework where the movement is very flexible and easy for talent to move from one, maybe a job to another or one situation to another situation or one project to another project. So that's something that is going to be a plus for everybody and one has to keep themselves prepared for it.

Ketan [00:47:56] Oh, thank you. I can relate to a lot of them and the digital upgrade and learning and then being oppressed with new terminologies is super important and lastly, with this question, I know you have addressed bits and pieces of this in the scheme, but do you think e-culture in the future? Is it already there? What's your closing broad theme on this entire piece.

Homi [00:48:30] I definitely think that e-culture in the future and if you refer to my earlier one of comments, the faster we accept it, the better we are prepared for solutions around it. We've just got a glimpse of it during this lockdown and arrangement that all the organizations have started doing in this period, the last couple of months.

Homi [00:48:57] We've got a glimpse of it, we cannot avoid it. Culture definitely as I started sharing earlier that it is a value system of the organization. But the faster we move to an e-based kind of an arrangement and faster we adapt to it, I think that is what is one has to look forward to and I very strongly believe that e culture is going to be an integral part of work-life for everyone, some may accept it, some may not accept it or some may accept it later, we cannot avoid it. It's gonna be a part of it and you got to be in it.

Homi [00:49:39] I am also saying, there are some organisations that might already have implemented it also. I mean, there are organisations globally which may have looked at it and when I'm sharing my thoughts, of course, a lot of my experience and the comments that I shared is in the context of what we're doing in India but when we look in the global setup, yes, there are organisations which have been adapted to the whole theme around e-culture. We have to give it time here for the whole concept to mature and I think across the workspace, there's gonna be a party for us and we have to live into it.

Senthil [00:50:30] Even before COVID, there are many startups especially in technology, globally. Many companies have done remote work for a long time. So they suddenly got a lot of traction as to, a lot of other companies turned to them, to learn from them. So many companies globally, like you, said, even before COVID. Now, it's just another day for them.

Homi [00:51:12] Earlier what would have happened, the organization could have thought that remote working is a possibility, but nobody ventured towards that direction. But now, given the situation, now we know, oh my god, this is fantastic, it can work very well and I will share one thing and I'll give this benefit to a lot of Indian organizations who are there and they have all adapted, many of them have adapted very smoothly and moved on to providing and building a lot of solutions.

Homi [00:52:09] A lot of corporates are working towards it and I think that's a good sign because everybody is pushed into a situation. Because you're pushed into a situation, you have to think about what's new and what's going to work for everybody to move together for growth and I think one good part about the whole concept of e-culture is that it has to become very aspirational.

Homi [00:52:37] So what happens when it becomes aspirational? People get inspired to be a part of it and start connecting to the whole concept of e-culture. So it has to be probably projected by the corporates and the organisations working on this concept, they have to make it very aspirational, how it works and what are the benefits for the organisation and what do they benefit from it and so they get inspired with the concept.

Ketan [00:53:03] Awesome. I think we can go on for long. There are five rapid-fire questions for me. I think this is how we typically close our conversation in Culture Monkey.

Ketan [00:53:39] The first one is, if not HR as a profession, what would it have been for you?

Homi [00:53:29] Sportsperson or something around sports.

Ketan [00:53:59] Cooking, cleaning, or mopping during COVID, which was easier?

Homi [00:54:04] Mopping. I picked up because I was removed from the cooking job. I did a pretty bad job. I was given very critical feedback and I was just given an assignment of mopping.

Ketan [00:54:21] The third question is, what is your next personal goal that you've picked for yourself or you're thinking about?

Homi [00:54:42] So my personal goal is that I've for quite some time, I was wanting to put my hands into writing poems or writing. I've been trying to attempt that for a long time but somehow, I have interests around that. I have interests in this whole field of art, which is there as of now. To learn an instrument as well and do something around that. Because that's something, it's a personal hobby and it stays with you.

Ketan [00:55:41] A book that has maximum impact on you?

Homi [00:55:42] This is man's search for meaning. That was one book, it's an amazing book. The first time I read, I was so touched by it that I read it at least four to five times after that. Just to understand what was going on in his mind and what exactly is the message being shared and I think that's moved me the most and which is when I think that nothing is permanent in life.

Homi [00:56:15] So you got to be ready to accept any kind of change that is put across you and you accept it and move on and that if one reads that book, you'll get a lot of notes, meaning and message as to what happens to the human mind when you're put to a situation. I think that's a book that I would recommend for everybody, especially read it once.

Ketan [00:56:44] The last one, one thing you thank COVID for, personally?

Homi [00:56:56] The time that I've started spending home with my family. I thank God for that. At least, it made me realize the entire essence of being home, being together, understanding what happens. I thank COVID for a wonderful experience. I know everywhere it is a lot and every time there's monsoon rains, there is waterlogging and everything which happens.

Homi [00:57:25] Most of the time whenever it was heavily raining here, I was inside the office. I didn't even know what's happening. This is the first time I experienced what's happening all around. I saw the trees falling, I saw the leaves swinging, singing, everything happening and it was such a beautiful thing to watch that experience. I would have not got it otherwise.

Homi [00:57:45] That was the experience that I was able to enjoy along with my family to see what's happening. The monsoons are very beautiful and it's one of my favorite seasons as well. I just watched it, enjoyed it. I also tried to write something around it. It was very beautiful.

Ketan [00:58:06] Thank you, that's it from my side, Homi.

Senthil [00:58:10] I just want to add one point, about you talking about poems and all that. So very constantly your name also sounds like Rumi. I love poems as well. I think there's another book in all of this, The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, which has similar views about Love and I think these Austrians and Germans including Russians have explored the human mind in a very phenomenal way.

Senthil [00:58:58] So, I am excited to read your poems now. Looks like you have explored human emotions from a very different angle and you are enjoying the weather now, I think it's gonna be very good, and your ambition is to stitch all of this into the culture as well. Now, we're talking about a great piece that's going to come on. So definitely you have to share that with us.

Homi [00:59:24] Yeah sure. I thank you, Senthil, and thank you, Ketan for inviting me. You have a wonderful experience and as I said, the one thing that I shared earlier is that we all learn from each other. I wish both of you good luck.

Senthil [01:00:01] Thanks a lot.

Ketan [01:00:04] Thank you.