Digital transformation requires readiness and organizational excellence

Lakshmi Rai is an HR & Legal professional.

Lakshmi has over 15 years of experience working in the field of HR and Legal. Her past positions have been spread across various industries, ranging from Fintech to manufacturing and publishing houses to content production studios such as Business World, Sony pictures Network, Reliance Big Synergy, exchange4media Group, and GE Money.

Lakshmi has been working as a business growth driver. Her expertise lies in growing businesses and start-ups.

Lakshmi has completed her MBA in HR from Pune University. She is a Law graduate with specializations in IPR & IT. She completed her graduation in Psychology and Masters in English & Business HR. For Lakshmi, HR and Legal go hand in hand, and she continuously strives every day to make Firework a better workplace. She is an avid traveler and a classically trained dancer.

Currently, Lakshmi is leading HR & Legal functions for Firework, India, SEA & EMEA regions. Firework is a venture-backed start-up based in Silicon Valley. Firework is one of the world’s fastest-growing short-video platforms for publishers and businesses on the open web. Sparked by the vision to “Give every publisher and Business a platform to tell their Stories with short videos,” we are an inspirational community connecting businesses and storytellers, passionate audiences, and respected brands and publishers through immersive short-form premium video entertainment. With Firework growing beyond just a short video platform, we are now on a remarkable trajectory. We have become the largest premium-generated content platform in the global digital ecosystem. Firework powers your business with Short Videos & Live - Streaming extending the power of engagement, conversion, technology, and expertise to any business. Funded by prominent Silicon Valley and global venture partners, we are rapidly hiring exceptional talents to join the global team.

Thank you, Lakshmi, for agreeing to do this interview with us. Kindly be as candid as you can.
Let’s Start!!!
How does the pandemic year affect you? What changes, professional and personal, does it bring into your life?

The pandemic was obviously unexpected but at the same time surprisingly enlightening. It brought such positivity and fresh changes in both my personal and professional life. The year taught me the value of teamwork in our corporate lives. We had to somehow coordinate and operate on our laptops. It did sound demanding initially, but with the support and strength that all our colleagues shared, things became so much easier. It taught me how extremely important interdependence is in our work. In my personal life, online schooling was a little strenuous for my son. But with the fast-paced life I lead, I realized how much quality time I could now spend with my child. I connected with long-lost friends, relatives, indulged in a bit of self-care, and more importantly my health and wellness, yes so it was unusually insightful.

In the new normal, some employees will be mandatorily working from the company premises, some will be allowed to permanently work-from-home, and others will be following a hybrid schedule. How do you foresee the future workplace? How will companies ensure employee engagement? What will be the prominent elements of NEW work culture?

Yes of course, I do believe workplace management and involvement will witness a drastic shift soon. I believe the future workplace will not be very different in terms of employee engagement but yes there will be protocols all companies will have to follow. Some prominent elements might include investments in digitizing workplaces, a significant portion of the workforce may still work from home, engaging with the employees in mental and physical awareness programs, all of these will help build productivity and ensure employee satisfaction along the way.

The new normal requires a new definition for work-life balance. In your role, do you think work-from-home is a boon or a bane? What challenges, if any, did you face in maintaining a work-life balance? What will be the new definition of “work-life balance”?

Work from home is neither a boon nor a bane, it is a necessity, an aid, it is something that is helping us being productive and sustainable in a crisis like this. Yes, in the beginning, I did, in fact, I think all of us did face a challenge in maintaining the work-life balance. Managing a home, family, all while continuing to stay committed in my professional life seems hard, but like the rest of us, I learned and implemented. I did not let the stress take over. The new definition of work-life balance has become blurry because of this pandemic. I think now we have, as a society achieved that balance. We have realized the importance of our mental health and the important things in our lives. We have seen an increase in productivity along with employee wellness. We now focus more on life in work-life. All the while giving our best and being productive professionally.

“TRUST” plays an important role in the success of a team, more so in a virtual environment (work-from-home). In your experiences, what Team Leaders are doing differently to develop and sustain trust among team players? How is technology helping in sustaining the trust?

Yes, trust is one of the most important factors that are now helping our teams to derive more results. I have seen team leaders, completely involved with the employees, providing continuous support. Many of us are new to this technology, and it makes us uncomfortable. Leaders display this sense of authenticity, and comfort that helps everyone connect and learn. Gestures like facial expressions and tone are important, as people are harder to understand over the camera. Technology helps team leaders organize and collaborate, apps like zoom, Google meet all aid.

Thank you, Lakshmi, for sharing your insights.
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