Asavi spoke with Lark’s International Digital and Social Media Leader, Akansha Wahi for our Leaders Insights series.

Lark's APAC Digital Marketing Leader, Akansha Wahi

In 2018, even before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced the world to adopt remote work, Lark, a subsidiary of ByteDance, had already been providing a suite of essential work tools to make the collaboration experience at workplaces more seamless. The Singapore-based fast-growing company, which currently employs employees across multiple geographies has been a pivotal part of many organisations’ transition to remote work.

When COVID made the ability to work remotely a critical concern, Lark made its service available for free globally to better support regional businesses in need.

Asavi recently caught up with Lark’s International Digital and Social Media Leader, Akansha Wahi to learn more about how Lark has supported a world that was forced to move online. “Lark ensures that teams and businesses work securely and efficiently on one single platform,” Akansha said.  “We strive to improve work productivity, transparent collaboration and seamless communication.”

Transitioning to a Remote World

The sudden pandemic-driven transition to remote work has caused an upheaval to the way we work. In fact, according to Gartner, since the outbreak, 91% of teams in Asia Pacific have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements. It was no different for the Lark team. With employees working remotely across the world, the various components such as Messenger, Docs, Calendar, Video Conferencing and Email on one single platform has also helped them make it easier to collaborate and communicate during the transition to remote work. Being uniquely positioned in the remote workspace, they also offer features unique only to Lark, “Our team frequently uses Magic Share, which allows us to co-edit Docs right within the call window during conference calls,” Akansha notes, “This allows us to brainstorm, develop plans, and collaborate seamlessly as we formulate strategies”.

Sample screenshot of Lark's Magic Share Feature (Source: Lark Blog)

Making the Future of Work...Work

A common challenge that many businesses face when remote working is the sense that their tools outside the office cause their teams to be less productive or efficient. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Lark of 1,000 Singapore professionals, managers, and executives, they found that only one in five professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs) are very satisfied with their current digital collaboration tools. This finding highlights that more can be done to create a positive work environment, and is a gap that Lark hopes to solve. Lark wants to provide the right digital collaboration tool to help companies break internal silos and openly share ideas across departments and teams, making remote work more efficient and seamless. “Regardless of whether they are a team of five or an enterprise with 5,000 employees, we want to work with people who believe in the future of work to make communication and collaboration at work more efficient,” Akansha shares.

As more workplaces start to adopt a hybrid collaborative work structure in 2021, this will bring with it its own set of challenges, with some people working remotely, some in-person, and possibly even dedicated off-site and on-site days. When asked for recommendations for most effectively adapting to this change in work structure, Akansha said that managers and team leaders should learn to be more proactive in engaging their teams and collecting feedback regularly. “Managers should evaluate employees based on their performance and output, rather than the amount of time they spend working,” she advised.

The Culture Challenge for Remote Teams

With remote work remaining the primary format of work for many companies, maintaining a company culture where colleagues take time to celebrate small team ‘wins’ and celebrations such as birthdays and work anniversaries, helps to encourage a more warm and enjoyable workplace for everyone. At Lark, they are a big advocate of bringing joy to work. “We often organise various virtual events and parties, team building activities, welcome sessions for new employees, and internal award ceremonies to encourage team bonding and build relationships,” Akansha shares.

On top of cultivating a good company culture, Akansha also describes a few unique practices that Lark has that makes her love working there. “Firstly, Lark values diversity. We have employees from all backgrounds and cultures, who aren’t afraid of expressing their opinions and ideas. Secondly, we dare to break away from the traditional ways of working. For instance, we frequently communicate over chat instead of email and use emoji reactions to express our emotions. Lastly, Lark provides a safe environment to make mistakes. We often share our challenges with our teams, and when things don’t work out, we try to learn how we can do better next time.”

Solving for Today, Building for Tomorrow

There’s no doubt that remote work is here to stay, and Singapore has excelled in the world's largest work-from-home experiment and is poised to offer flexible work in the long term (read more here). Akansha shares that they see remote work as only one part of the entire work collaboration ecosystem and even employees working from the office will benefit from Lark's features such as Attendance, Approval, Docs and Drive. “We're also continually adapting to meet tomorrow's workforce's needs and will develop the tools to address them on an ongoing basis,” Akansha shares.

It’s no surprise that with the continuous development of new tools and practice of good workplace culture and habits, Lark will continue to be a leader in the future of remote work.

This article has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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