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EFC spurs a dialogue on IT-integrated remote work culture

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The first edition of the HR/IR Forum for 2021 of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was held recently on the theme of ‘IT-integrated remote work culture: Pandemic and Beyond’.

The webinar-forum which brought together experts in HR/IR, Industrial and Labour Law and disability sector from the EFC and its member-companies, deliberated on opportunities and challenges a remote work culture driven by IT entails in the pandemic-clouded environment. It also brought to the table the shifts to be forged in an IT-driven work culture beyond the pandemic, an EFC news release said.

Opening the forum, Kelum Herat-Gunaratne, Head of Business Transformation, Hirdaramani Group, provided a snapshot of the labor-intensive, diversified conglomerate’s key areas of business impact due to the pandemic which included both primary and supporting activities.

With an unprecedented toll on sales due to market and operation closure, non-supply of raw materials etc. all of which had a ‘domino effect on operations’ as Herat-Gunaratne explained, the company was driven to adapt mitigation strategies which were largely IT-fuelled, the release said.

“All were counting on technology as the answer. Infrastructure and finance too had a huge role to play and we strategized collectively to see how we could adapt to this new environment,” noted Herat-Gunaratne who went on to emphasize that the IT-HR fusion gave new interventions a further thrust.

Resources for remote work, adapting a change in the work culture, and health & safety of the employees were among the core strategies adopted, said the senior professional who went on to remark that the flip-side of the pandemic was that it ‘fast-tracked the implementation of Hirdaramani’s digital transformation strategy’.

Amplifying the existing processes and leveraging the right technology, pushed WSO2 to brave COVID-induced business challenges, remarked Udeshika Ratnavira, Vice President, Human Resources and Administration at WSO2.

Citing monthly town halls, buddy chats, employee surveys, interactive on-boarding sessions, support to set up home offices and creating awareness on coping with crisis as chief strategies embraced by her company, Ratnavira also alluded to the challenges which had to be braved.

“Employees were missing out social experience, their mental health was affected, brainstorming sessions were difficult on the phone and there were domestic interventions impacting work which we had to take stock of.”

With the challenges, learnings were also many said the HR professional who cited prioritizing costs and essentials, investing in technology, fostering a larger and a deeper pool of talent, connectedness, communication, agility, thinking global and wellness among them.

“During a lockdown people with disabilities are placed in a double-lock down,” remarked Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre of the EFC. “Work-from-home policies must ensure that employees with disabilities have appropriate adjustments at home, similar to what they have in their regular workplace,”

Gunaratne urged employers to champion accessibility and disability-inclusion. It is imperative for the employer to understand what format best suits each employee she said emphasizing the importance of enabling telework arrangements, work-related communication and websites on accessible formats.

Support to purchase assistive devices for remote work, promotion of skills of people with disabilities in assistive technologies and online tools are also urgent in moving forward, she added.

Throwing light on IT-integrated remote work and Sri Lankan Labour Law, Sewwandi Jayatunga Wijesekera Head of Solutions (Legal & HR) and Assistant Director General of the EFC, shared some of the common legal concerns raised by the EFC members in navigating through the new business fabric brought about by the pandemic.

Deviations from the terms in the contract of employment, new work arrangements, leave and holidays, remuneration and benefits, monitoring the performance of probationers and poor performers and managing discipline were among these.

“None of the labour laws of Sri Lanka have specific provisions pertaining to new ways of work such as remote work, compelling employers to manage within the existing legal framework,” she observed.

Noting that moving forward, all work agreements should incorporate provisions related to remote work in case of such necessity, she said. All remote work policies should be “employee-friendly, feasible and practical without compromising on the safety of sensitive internal data and information.”

She added that in formulating such policies, work-life balance, occupational safety and health and communication related challenges should be taken into account.

The forum was followed by a panel discussion which gave the participants at the webinar an opportunity to share their thoughts and elicit responses from the experts.



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2021 HUAWEI Women Developers Summit: Her Contributions

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HUAWEI Women Developers Summit was successfully closed recently, in which women from different fields and at different career development stages joined together and showed their empowerment. At the summit, several outstanding women representatives from science and technology were invited to share their technical knowledge, work experience, and personal stories, aiming to encourage more women to play a valuable role in science and technology in an active way.

HUAWEI Women Developers (HWD), the holder of this summit, empowers women developers to create world-changing apps and tools and encourages more women to join in with technological innovation by providing them with more resources, opportunities, and platforms for learning, communication, and self-expression, with the goal of building a more multiple ecosystem.

There are still many spaces and opportunities for women to develop themselves in science and technology. To eliminate the digital gender gap, Huawei has launched digital technology enablement programs for women in Ireland, Argentina, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa, and other countries or regions. The Operations Director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Developer Alliance gave a speech at the summit in which she said: “We really hope that more women can play a leading role in technological innovation with their own talents, values, and strengths.” As such, HWD will continuously provide more opportunities and support for women in tech.

Tang Wenjie, co-founder of Ladies Who Tech, participated in the topic Tech Has No Gender. She put forward her belief that the development of science and technology requires teams with gender diversity and more inclusiveness. Faced with existing gender stereotypes and strong prejudices, women need to be more courageous in designing and creating technological or digital products.

In the era of women’s startups, how women in tech balance the challenges and difficulties when starting up with a firm yet positive attitude has gained a lot of attention. Liu Yi, the co-founder of QIchat, encouraged women in tech to innovate and promote the advancement of science and technology by sharing her own experiences in the affordable and universal education domain.

Both the Product Director of HUAWEI Ads and User Experience Designer of Huawei 2012 Laboratories also discussed how women developers play a more important role in cross-technology fields from the perspectives of business thinking and technical practice. They insisted that women should attempt to make more contributions to the technology industry in different ways with an uncompromising and confident spirit.

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Innovative pipe borne LPG to Sri Lanka

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In the global energy landscape, LPG is considered the safest and the most environmentally sound choice suitable for a variety of functions – from household requirements to industrial consumption, LPG is increasingly emerging as the world’s preferred clean and green energy.

Although in house LPG cylinders have been used in Sri Lanka for a considerable period of time, the safest and the most modern option that is operational worldwide is pipe borne LPG that provides a safe and an easy accessible LPG solution, says Anil Koswatte, chairman & CEO of Litro Gas Lanka Limited & Litro Gas Terminal Lanka (Private) Limited, Sri Lanka’s national LPG provider.

As a measure of upscaling the LPG availability in Sri Lanka, Litro Gas Lanka will be introducing pipe borne LPG supply to households and consumers in Sri Lanka, giving them access to world class energy solutions, he adds.

“Litro Gas Lanka believes in delivering innovative and safe LPG solutions to our customers. Introducing the pipe borne LPG is a step towards ensuring the highest safety protocols in LPG supply – while also ensuring an easy and convenient way of delivery LPG to your home or work place. The LPG provided will be measured in litres, in keeping with global standards.”

Backed by a unique legacy that goes back 150 years, Litro Gas Lanka possesses a heritage that is rich with industry firsts; a part of that legacy was the network of gas pipes that delivered gas to households as far back as a century ago, installed by Ceylon Gas & Water Co, precursor of Litro Gas Lanka.

Today, as energy industry dynamics change with consumer demand, the company remains firmly committed to infusing change and transformation needed to meet changing requirements.

“We are taking the concept of LPG supply beyond that of bringing a cylinder home and stocking it in your kitchen. This will take the LPG availability to the next level, by giving our customers safe & easy accessibility to the energy they need on demand.”

“In keeping with the development goals for the energy sector outlined in H.E The President’s “Vistas of Prosperity & Splendour” economic vision, we believe that the Litro Gas Lanka LPG Pipeline Project would add value to customer proposition and enhance energy efficiency for all”, Koswatte adds.

Commenting on the project, Jayantha Basnayake, Director – Health, Safety & Environment/Professional Business – Litro Gas Lanka Limited says that the new project will optimize safety and improve convenience for the consumers – “LPG supply via a pipeline is the standard procedure for global LPG operations – we are introducing the same safety and ease of operations procedure to Sri Lanka with this.”

“As a Company engaged in the handling highly inflammable LPG as the core product, safety is a key value for us and for our customers. This process will rule out any compromises on safety given the fact that the installation is safely placed outside the living areas. We will be ensuring a 24/7 support service while also ensuring maximum safety levels”, he points out.

Litro Gas Lanka is a member of The World LPG Association (WLPGA); while adhering in all operational protocols to the global standards and parameters stipulated for the LPG industry, the Company will be deploying industry specific equipment, accessories and installations for its pipe line operation.

Litro Gas Lanka has obtained and following local and global standards of ISO (International Organization for Standardization), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), BS (British Standard), ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and SLS (Sri Lanka Standards Institute) along with other safety protocols required by local authorities.

Janaka Pathirathna, Director – Sales & Marketing at Litro Gas Lanka says that on demand model of LPG supply ensures an uninterrupted supply, while giving customers a hassle free, doorstep service that is convenient and easy to obtain.

“It promises to be a unique and a world class product that comes with international standards in safety and customer experience. There will be several product categories & packages that will offer various benefits to customers, based on their specific needs. We will also introduce attractive payment methods for the convenience of customers, “he adds.

Litro Gas Lanka plays a pivotal role in the country’s energy sector with a 75% market share and a network of 42 distributors, over 14,000 points-of-sale, 1,500 home delivery hubs and a seamless supply of LPG throughout Sri Lanka. The Company maintains a strong market presence with their Litro Gas Home Delivery Mobile App and a dedicated 1311 customer care hotline.

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Ceylinco Life donates High Flow Nasal Cannula

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Ceylinco Life recently donated High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) equipment to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital at Kalubowila, responding to an urgent need to enhance the non-invasive ventilator facilities for patients with severe hypoxic respiratory failure.

The HFNC equipment donated by the company will be used at the four-bed surgical High Dependency Unit (HDU) previously donated by Ceylinco Life to Ward 24 of the hospital. The High Flow Nasal Cannula is used by the medical team to bridge patients being weaned from invasive ventilation.

Ceylinco Life has built, equipped and donated High Dependency Units to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila, the National Hospital, Colombo, the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital and the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. HDUs are needed to upgrade a patient from normal care or as a step down from intensive care, helping release beds in the intensive care units. These units are used for post-surgery care, before transferring patients to the wards, or to treat an intensive disease.

Pictured here at the donation of High Flow Nasal Cannula equipment to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila are Ceylinco Life’s Senior Assistant General Manager – Alternative Channels & Emerging Business Lakshika Keragala (extreme left), the hospital’s Consultant Surgeon Dr Malith Nandasena, and medical and nursing staff of the hospital.

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