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Sharp learning curve for bosses as WFH goes global



LONDON (Reuters) – Two weeks into the coronavirus lockdown and Sergei Holmeckis, a boss at Deutsche Telekom’s Czech operations in the city of Brno, was frustrated with staff video calls. His team didn’t like turning on their cameras and the discussion was stilted.

“I started to show them my cat,” Holmeckis said. “It showed the human side of me more and really changed the perception. It got people to switch on their cameras and be more engaged.”

Such tactics obviously won’t appeal to everyone. But they do show how the world’s biggest experiment in working from home is forcing managers to reassess their methods – especially as surveys predict higher levels of remote working post-pandemic.

Before the new coronavirus began spreading, just 2.9% of the world’s employees were working exclusively or mainly from home, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), a Geneva-based UN agency.

Within weeks, that figure exploded as social distancing forced companies to launch telework schemes. An Argentinian study found that 93% of large firms had turned to telework; in Britain, half of all employers said that by late-April the bulk of their staff were working from home.

The exercise was often chaotic, with scant regard for what tasks could be performed at home. Many workers faced cramped living spaces or had to juggle the job with children grounded by school closures. Others felt isolated.

Yet overall reactions have been broadly positive. Surveys in the United States and Britain have shown over three-quarters of companies expect to offer more homeworking after the pandemic, with staff citing benefits such as greater work-life balance and claiming they felt just as productive as in the office.

Twitter was among the first to declare that working from home would be a permanent option, while the head of Barclays bank suggested that “putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”.

“This is a revolution here and we don’t know what the end-result will be,” said Jon Messenger, an ILO expert on working conditions who has traced the history of telework since it first emerged in the mid-1970s with the label “telecommuting”.

“Managers in the past have been very unwilling to do this because of the loss of direct control over subordinates … it requires a totally different approach to management.”

Trust the worker

Messenger argues the new approach implies above all a shift towards greater results-based performance appraisal while allowing employees more scope to organise their work time.

But while various studies link so-called “time sovereignty” to productivity benefits, some companies find that hard to take on board. Developers of employee tracking software – which for example send managers screenshots of their staff’s computer screens – are currently reporting a surge in sales.

Companies where tasks are hard to quantify argue that some form of monitoring is essential. But workplace experts warn that excessive surveillance can be counterproductive.

“Employers risk damaging the relationship if they are treating staff like children,” Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD body of human resources professionals.

The rise over the past decade of collaborative software has made teamwork from separate locations easier, weakening the argument made in 2013 by former Yahoo! boss Marissa Mayer that teleworkers were seen as a “drag” on office-based colleagues.

But such tools still leave many employees with a sense of disconnect and lack of structure in their working lives. Just as Deutsche Telekom’s Holmeckis did by using his cat as an ice-breaker, managers will have to learn how to bridge the distance.

“There is a risk of people disengaging. A lot of the conversations are operational, about tasks: low on empathy, low on personal support,” said Octavius Black, whose company Mind Gym offers workshops on remote management skills.

For now, the world is not far enough into the mass telework experiment to know how it will change work patterns or even what the real impact has already been on productivity.

It is also unlikely to be representative of how companies and employees will use telework when the health crisis abates.

Assuming that lockdowns do not have to be reimposed to prevent a second wave of the virus, ILO’s Messenger suggests that telework will become more widespread but in a watered-down form – optional and not for the entire working week.

“The sweet spot is about two or three days a week,” he said. “Then you won’t have so many of the downsides.”

Reporting and photo: Reuters


Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting



The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024



Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.

This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.

Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:

  • Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
  • Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
  • Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
  • Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.

Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.

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Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives



Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally  acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive  art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to  February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands,  weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger  than-life canvases. 

Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement.  Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself. 

The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation. 

At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.

Experience artistry at its most exclusive

Art Exhibition
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.

Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.

Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.

Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.

Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact

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