Last September, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board finally put forward a resolution that will allow Information Technology and Business Processing Management or Business Processing Outsourcing firms in ecozones to adopt fully remote arrangements without risking penalty or suspension of their tax incentives. This decision comes after months of negotiation between the involved parties and is the first step towards cementing work-from-home arrangements as a permanent option in the sector. Currently, amendments to the CREATE Act and the Telecommuting Act are being considered to even the playing field between remote and face-to-face firms.

There is one important takeaway from this story. That is, this is the first real indication that remote work is here to stay for Philippine firms, and the government is setting up the proper framework to support it.

Given this assurance that the way forward is remote or hybrid, it is more important than ever that companies reinforce their virtual operations, including the delivery of their employee training and development programs. Coaching and mentoring are methods that are especially good at encouraging employee engagement, productivity, and morale on top of skills building. 

However, with the distance and infrequent informal interactions between coaches and employees, the work-from-home set-up might pose a problem for the program. When poorly done, coaching could even lead to greater churn for the company at worst. Digital transformation helps bridge the gap.

Maximize coaching with the right apps

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to coaching. Often, the most effective coaching method is one that is informed by the employee’s interests, their own goals and aspirations at the company, and the type of learner that they are (whether visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or others). Coaches, therefore, are granted significant flexibility in the materials they can use during their meeting.

Visual learners or those that learn best with hands-on experience may benefit from collaborating on a mind map or document together with their coach. Coaches could invite linguistic learners to craft a poem using a magnetic poetry app with words related to their work and the problems they are facing. Even playing soothing music during a call, after the employee has confessed to a stressful week, is a good way to set the tone of the coaching session.

With the breadth and width of available resources though, things can get disorganized fast. Project management platforms or advanced bookmarking browser extensions allow coaches to collect inspiring videos, podcasts, articles, infographics, etc., organize them into folders according to topic or coachee, and save them in a space that is separate from the links and documents they require for work. Easier content management then allows coaches to share their screen in the middle of a session and ensure coachees interact with the right resource, at the right time.

Get creative with your coaching

In recent years, major corporations have confessed to “gamifying” their leadership development programs. Gamification here refers to the combination of video game experiences, such as missions, badges, leaderboards, with positive psychology to help employees improve on their strengths, cooperate better with their team members, and think creatively to find solutions to problems. Likewise, by analyzing how employees react to stressors, coping with unexpected outcomes, and competition, coaches gain valuable insight on their thinking process and could help employees unlock their potential.

As an example, P&A Grant Thornton’s own cybersecurity training program, Vigilant, is gamified so employees can have fun while learning about essential yet technical topics. The training modules themselves contain quizzes and games that simulate real world threats, but there are also badges, achievements, and a scoreboard that ranks each division by their completion of the program.

Still, other companies take gamification one step further and employ virtual reality, complete with work-related future scenarios and avatars, to see how employees respond and how they see themselves and their role within the company, respectively.

Automate for areas of improvement

In an era of complex technology, artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly finds itself intertwined in multiple aspects of corporate management. “Smart AI coaching” refers to systems that are trained using insights from behavioral science and from employee performance reports to tailor a coaching experience that is unique for every staff member. In addition, they can send nudges, or gentle guidance that still leaves choice up to the employee, at the most optimal moments according to the data they have gathered. AI has also proven capable of generating recommendations for how individuals can speak better in high-pressure situations, such as job interviews or work presentations.

The technologically enhanced coaching methods available to us range from hands on to completely hands off. Whichever method they choose, companies must constantly track the progress of their coaching program to ensure they are still providing efficient and quality development to employees to give them the highest possible chance of excelling in their roles.


As published in The Manila Times, dated 12 October 2022