Leadership Series: ‘Maintain Employee Productivity and Wellbeing with COVID-19’

Ercan Aydin, Regional Vice President at Palo Alto Networks Middle East and Africa (MEA)

With the unprecedented COVID-19 situation and the wide global impact, and as homes became offices, we have plunged into a new reality of remote working, forcing us to interact in ways like never before.

While our teams and partners at Palo Alto Networks have helped secure millions of devices using the world’s largest cloud with the current work from home situation, we have ensured having an equal focus on our employees, especially their wellbeing and empowerment.

The digital connection is now the human connection.

Through our inclusion and diversity program, we offer many webinars and online learning modules helping employees feel at ease. It is important to motivate your employees during this period; for example, with online learning materials as well as health and wellness tips while staying at home. Online marketing and web-based activities have proven to be successful over the years, and for Palo Alto Networks for instance, we have reached around 2,500 people by web-based activities alone last quarter.

It is now more than ever that people are looking for a sense of hope and understanding from their leaders. From a strategic point of view, we have several comprehensive plans in place for our next fiscal quarter; we are looking at complete optimization of all staff in our organizational structure and have committed to no layoffs globally. 

When it comes to employee engagement, for effective leadership, it is important to be both empathetic and flexible in such a situation in addition to keeping everyone regularly engaged and motivated. As leaders, we must ensure that each employee is connected virtually for day-to-day operations, collaboration meetings and even creative ideas such as weekly ‘open hours’ for socializing opportunities. We are finding that even simple initiatives such as these go a long way in building employee morale and trust.

Both on a personal and corporate level, it is imperative to adapt to this new working style and adapt our actions for the people.

We did not just start working remotely, but we started living remotely. When we understood that computers replaced traditional classrooms, we realized there was a need to educate children on potential cybersecurity breaches. Our Cyber A.C.E.S programme offers free online security learning lessons for children aged 5 to 15.

It is critical that our leaders continue to lead by example, be an inspiration to others, and by collaborating together can continue to be successful.