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Strategies for Effective Teaching of Autistic Learners

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(Integration in Mainstream Classes & Use of Assistive Technology)

Thinking of the issue of educating learners with Autism for a while, one tends to have a number of misconceptions. One may think autistic learners are rare cases that do not need much attention on one’s part and that are intellectually disabled. One may also think teaching autistic learners is totally different from teaching normal ones and is the duty of specialized teachers in separate classrooms. However, a closer study proves that the number of autistic learners is increasing in a way that makes any teacher likely to have some cases in classroom. These autistic learners show noticeable intelligence and are, thus, likely to show progress when properly guided and through the use of appropriate approaches, tools, and devices. Moreover, educating autistic learners and normal ones have much in common. The teaching process for both, then, shares the same goals, approaches, requirements, etc.

Accordingly, this paper is an attempt to ensure an effective learning process for autistic learners through two strategies: their integration in the mainstream classroom with non-autistic learners, on the basis of the numerous aspects in common, besides the use of Assistive Technology. This is achieved through raising awareness about autistic learners by means of correcting misconceptions about them and highlighting the points in common between teaching autistic and non-autistic learners on the one hand, as well as listing a number of assistive technological devices that can be employed in classroom to enhance the formers’ learning process on the other.

First: The Integration of Autistic Learners in Mainstream Classroom through Raising Awareness about them

To ensure the understanding and acceptance of autistic learners and their inclusion in the mainstream learning process, one must correct misconceptions about them. First of all, autistic learners are not rare cases that one needs not care much for. Actually autism is the “third most common developmental disability [1 P.1]”. The Telegraph states that 1 person in 100, or 10,000 in a million persons worldwide have autism [2]. Jenna Wharff declares that autism in the US is “more prevalent than ever, and it is on the rise [3]”. This is reflected in the diagram below tracing the increase in autistic cases in the US. For instance, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) reveals the rise of the rate of children with autism in the US by about 30% from 1 in 68 in 2012 to 1 in 88 in 2014 (fig 2). Figure 1 also shows the dramatic increase in number of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from 94,000 students with autism in 2001 to 455,000 in 2012.

Source: [3]

As far as Egypt is concerned, there is no specific statistics on how prevalent autism is in the country. Dhalia Soliman, the president of the Egyptian Autistic Society (EAS) states “Here in Egypt, we try to be conservative and say that it appears in one in every 250-300 children [4]”. Nevertheless, studies still need to be held, in Egypt and/or worldwide, to ensure better education and equal rights for the increasing number of persons with autism.

Second, autistic learners are not necessarily intellectually disabled or mentally retarded. Some autistic learners show extreme abilities in some areas and can do some tasks really well and quickly. The diagram below shows the wide variation in mental abilities of different autistic learners that can range from severe learning disability in learners with classic autism, mild learning disability, average/above average IQ, reaching extreme abilities in cases of high functioning autism.

Source: [5]

In fact, there is a number of ingenious celebrities with autism or autistic features, such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Edison. Actually a child with autism can process up to 250,000 cycles of brain wave energy per second in their conscious state while a normal person processes 13 to 30 cycles only, which explains the high intelligence that autistic learners show [6].

The third and most important misconception about learners with autism is that their teaching greatly differs from teaching normal ones and needs specialized teachers and separate classrooms. Nevertheless, teaching learners with autism and normal learners have much in common and must go together hand in hand in a number of ways. Basically, the educational process in both cases shares the same objectives, approaches, and requirements.

To start with, teaching autistic and non-autistic learners have common pre-teaching objectives. A teacher of autistic and/or non-autistic learners has to start by setting goals for the teaching process. These goals have to be “measurable [1 P.4]”, specific, achievable, realistic, and timed in accordance with learners’ abilities and needs. The emphasis is, therefore, not just on their points of weakness, but also on those of strength and interest that need to be encouraged and developed. Moreover, teaching autistic learners, like normal ones, has to aim at enhancing their academic, social, behavioural, and communicative skills that help learners excel and lead a normal life.

To achieve such goals, the teacher has to adopt a variety of educational tools, programs, approaches, or techniques to ensure an effective learning process for autistic learners, the same as non-autistic ones. Examples of tools, programs, and techniques that are handy in teaching learners with autism are given in the second part of this paper about the incorporation of assistive technology in classrooms, particularly where autistic learners are integrated. Furthermore, the teacher has to evaluate the effectiveness of the adopted tool or approach and how far it facilitates the achievement of such objectives. This is done through the assessment of how much progress autistic learners have shown through the selected tool, program or approach.

One technique needed in teaching autistic as well as normal learners is the reduction of teacher intervention. Learners benefit from a “low teacher-student ratio [1 P.7]”, accordingly a teacher has to play a minimized role for autistic as well as non-autistic learners to be autonomous learners after having acquired the tools of learning. Reducing teacher’s interference can be attained through giving prompts and elicitation.

Another technique a teacher has to employ is identifying each learner’s dominant learning style(s) through which the learner is to be approached, yet help him/her build on the other styles as well. Thus, the teacher has to adopt a differentiated learning approach, not only with autistic learners, but also with any learner. For instance, a teacher needs to address autistic learners’ sensory/visual needs that reduce traditional verbal communication. These learners, like normal ones, learn best through their senses, especially sense of sight. Therefore, the teacher has to have an extensive use of visuals that engage learners and facilitate learning. Using visuals is also essential as it increases learners’ attention span and reduces their distractibility. Another example, autistic learners are bodily-kinesthetic and/or spatial, the same as many non-autistic ones. They need to be physically active, that is why they need game and activity-based learning, besides breaks to run and play.

Since autistic learners respond to sensory stimuli, the educational environment or setting plays a great role in the learning process. Thus, the classroom has to be cosy and welcoming to learners, and to address their senses by being colourful and decorated. Other times sensory stimuli have a negative effect on learners. To improve learners’ attentiveness, teachers sometimes need to keep learners away from any distraction, may be by having a special quiet corner in class. Thus, the teacher has to “provide an environment that is uncluttered and without distracting noises [1 P. 6]”.

A third approach needed in teaching autistic and non-autistic learners is motivation. Learners need a fun element and refreshment to be engaged in the learning process and to increase their attentiveness span. This is achieved through introducing activities, games, role-plays, etc. Such activities help improve learners’ communicative, behavioural, and social skills, can turn them from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal, in addition to allowing them to “practice some basic life skills [1 P.8]”. Motivation can also be realized through conveying a sense of self-confidence and high self-esteem to learners. They need to feel that they are capable of achieving progress. Thus, it is equally crucial that the teacher has “high expectations [1 P.5]” of their ability to overcome disability and succeed.

A fourth approach in educating learners with autism, as well as other learners, is encouraging learners’ peer work. What is most pitiful about learners with autism is that they need to communicate with other people and to have friends but their “self-absorbed [1 P.1]” nature hinders them from establishing social relationships. Therefore, it becomes the teacher’s duty to help learners establish such relationships and to become involved in social interaction. This is why it is always healthier and more beneficial for autistic and non-autistic learners to “learn side by side [1 P.5]”, rather than in specialized classrooms. This is on the basis that autistic learners achieve social, academic, and communicative progress through being exposed to “age-appropriate social models [1 P. 5]”, while normal learners acquire a sense of compassion towards their autistic peers and high self-esteem for helping them. They can help in the education of autistic learners and the reduction of teacher’s intervention.

Second: The Use of Assistive Technology in Teaching Learners with Autism

According to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-407), assistive technology device is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities [7 P.2]”. Accordingly, AT devices play a crucial role in teaching autistic learners and must be extensively used in classrooms inclusive of autistic learners as well as normal learners of a varied range of abilities or needs.

There are various types of Assistive Technology tools or devices that address different autistic learners’ abilities, needs, skills, or difficulties, whether sensory, motor, communication, or academic. This section provides examples of some AT devices that are either mid tech or high tech recommended for use by teachers and/or autistic learners to facilitate the learning process for learners, to overcome their disability, and develop their multiple skills.

By: Sarah A. Fawzy Ismaiel

Photography: Mahmoud Mansi

Examples of Assistive Technology Used in Teaching: Autistic Learners

Assistive Technology Examples Uses
VISUAL REPRESENTATION SYSTEMS
–       Boardmaker, (Mayer-Johnson’s software) It offers 3,000 picture communication symbols (PCS) in a library of both black/white and color picture symbols.
–          Picture This (Silver Lining Multimedia) The program allows for the presentation of real photos.It contains over 2,700 photos from various categories.It is ideal for creating activity schedules, augmentative communication systems, games, materials for reading activities, materials to teach following directions, and other visual supports.

 

–       True Object Based Icons (TOBI) It is designed for students who have difficulty understanding a two-dimensional visual representation system.TOBI are line drawings or photographs that are cut out in the actual shape or outline of the items they represent and that students can both see and feel. 
SENSORY INPUT DEVICES
Choice Board of Sensory Activities with Voice Output:(Mid Tech Tool) It is used by learners who are unable to use verbal language to communicate the activity they would like to perform. It is a simple voice output device that provides both visual and auditory feedback of the learner’s selected activity.
Computer games and software programs(High Tech Tools)  They provide both visual and auditory stimuli which engage learners.
MOTOR SKILLS
Keyboards(Mid Tech Tool) Alphasmart– Neo– The Writer

– Fusion

 

These are used to practice keyboarding skills.
Portable Word Processors(Mid Tech Tool) –    Alphasmart–    Dana–    Neo

–    CalcuScribe

–    The Writer

–    Fusion

 

These are used to practice keyboarding, taking notes or completing written assignments.
RECEPTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
One-Message Speech Generating Devices:(Mid Tech Tool) –    Keychain Talker &Picture Frame Talker (by Attainment)-    The One-Step Communicator & the BIGmack (by Ablenet)

–    The Portable Talking ID &

the Clip Talk (by Enabling Devices/Toys for Special Children)

These are used to convey one message or give one direction to autistic learners. The message is accompanied by the appropriate picture symbol and the text. It helps to teach the student the meaning of the message as well as its associated photo, symbol, word.
Multiple-Message Speech Generating Devices(Mid Tech Tool) –    The Cheap Talk 4 (by Enabling Devices/Toys for Special Children)-    Talking Photo Album (by Augmentative Communication, Inc.)-    The Mini Message Mate (by Words +)

–    The Tech/Four (by AMDi)

–    The Four Frame Talker (by Attainment)

 

These devices can be programmed for one to four step directions.
Videotaping(High Tech Tool) They address autistic learners’ visual and auditory senses.
Computer Software(High Tech Tool) –    IntelliTools Classroom Suite It includes both auditory and visual support.
–      Picture It (by Slater)-      Clicker 5 (by Crick)-      Boardmaker or Communicate: SymWriter (by Mayer-Johnson)

It uses picture-supported texts and directions written using picture symbols
–    Picture This (by Silver Lining Multimedia) It uses picture-supported texts and directions written using photos
EXPRESSIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
One-Message Devices (SGD)   –    BIGmack (by Ablenet)-    Memo Talker (by Attainment)-    One Message Hip Talk (by Enabling Devices)

–    Portable Talking ID (by Enabling Devices)

–    One-Step Communicator (by Ablenet)

–    Voice Recording Pen (by Attainment)

–    Talking picture frames

 

These devices are Mid Tech tools designed to enable autistic learners to communicate a message and express themselves through pressing a button.
Multiple-Message Devices: (one level SGD)   –    5 Talker (by Attainment)-    Cheap Talk 4, 8 (by Enabling Devices)-    Communication Builder (by Enabling Devices)

–    Four Frame Talker (by Attainment)

–    Mini Message Mate (by Words+)

–    Talk Back III (by Crestwood)

–    Tech/Four (by AMDi)

–    Message Mate 20, 40 (by Words+)

 

These devices are Mid Tech tools designed to enable autistic learners to communicate a message and express themselves through pressing a button.
SGD Devices with Levels –    Go:Talk (by Attainment)-    Chat Box (by Saltillo/Mayer-Johnson)-    32 Message Communicator (by Enabling Devices)

–    Mulit-Level Message Mate 40 (by Words +)

–    6, 12 Level Communicator (by Enabling Devices)

–    Step by Step Communicator with Levels (by Ablenet)

–    Tech/Speak (32) (by AMDi)

These devices are Mid Tech tools designed to enable autistic learners to communicate a message and express themselves through pressing a button.
Devices with Visual Scene Display (High Tech Tool) –    Dynavox V/ V Max These devices include a full screen where the autistic learner can touch the picture that corresponds to the message he/she wants to communicate and his message is spoken.
Computer(High Tech Tool) –    Speaking Dynamically Pro The software is specifically designed to enable message communication.
–      Word Q–      Write: OutLoud These are talking word processing programs that voice texts entered or selected by learners.
ACADEMIC SKILLS
SGD Multiple-Message Devices: (one level) (Mid Tech Tool)  –    4 Frame Talker & Cheap Talk 4 (by Attainment)  It enables the autistic learner to select which picture corresponds to the message or description they hear.
Word Processing programs and tools (Mid Tech Tool)  
Calculators(Mid Tech Tool)   
A SMARTBoard (High Tech Tool)    It is an interactive white board with Notebook software.
Video Taping(High Tech Tool)   
Interactive Storybooks (software or online) or e-books(High Tech Tool)  
Adaptive Hardware(High Tech Tool) –    Touch Window This is a touch screen mounted on the computer monitor that allows the autistic learner to touch the screen instead of using a mouse.
Software for Teaching Reading (High Tech Tool) –    Picture It (by Slater Software)-    Edmark Reading Programs (by Riverdeep)-    Survival Signs (by Attainment)

 

Software for Writing with Pictures(High Tech Tool) –   Communicate: SymWriter (by Mayer-Johnson)-   Pix Writer (by Slater Software) Clicker 5 (by Crick Software) This is meant for autistic learners who are able to read and/or understand pictures and words before they are able to write or spell.
Software for Writing with Letters(High Tech Tool) –    Kids Time Deluxe (Great Wave Software) It has an onscreen keyboard, using the mouse the learner clicks on the letters to spell words and sentences
Software for Math(High Tech Tool) –   Access to Math (by Don Johnston)-   Math Pad (by IntelliTools)

Adapted from: [7]

 

References

[1] M. Creedon, et al (2006). Building our future educating students on the spectrum. US. [Online]. Available: http://www.autism-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/buildingourfuture06.pdf

[2] I. Stewart. (2010, Oct.). Autism and HIV: when maths can be misleading. The Telegraph. [Online]. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/8062306/Autism-and-HIV-when-maths-can-be-misleading.html

[3] J. Wharff, Ed. M (2015, Feb.). Autism is on the Rise. Stages Learning Material. [Online]. Available: http://blog.stageslearning.com/blog/autism-is-on-the-rise?topic=about-autism

[4] Y. Fathi. (2013, Apr.). Angels in our midst: Autism in Egypt. Ahramonline. [Online]. Available: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/0/68241/Egypt/0/Angels-in-our-midst-Autism-in-Egypt.aspx

[5] Cornwall Council. (2015, Feb.). What is Autism. [Online]. Available: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/autism/what-is-autism/

[6] Autism-behavior-strategies.com. Famous people with Autism. [Online]. Available: http://www.autism-behavior-strategies.com/Famous-People-With-Autism.html

[7] M. Wirkus, et. Al, Ed. (2009). Assistive technology supports for individuals with Autism spectrum disorder. Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) Section 4. [Online]. Available: http://www.wati.org/content/supports/free/pdf/ASDManual-1.pdf

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Building an Agile Culture: The only way Forward

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Written By: Hanane Benkhallouk

The coronavirus has already rewritten the future of business. With the spread of the pandemic not slowing down any time soon, business leaders find themselves scrambling to find solutions to a host of problems, from bottlenecks in the supply chain to miscommunication between departments.

The outbreak of the coronavirus demands that business owners respond quickly to the growing number of challenges by using the latest technologies and out of the box strategies for sustainable business operations. Keeping that in mind, here are some useful tips for businesses that are building an agile culture to adapt to the new normal in business.

Design Data for Informational Hierarchy

Information is an important component of any business process. Since employees are no longer operating in-house, the chances of miscommunication are two-fold. To avoid that, business leaders need to design information based on informational hierarchy and the channels that are going to be used. This will result in better clarity and a higher level of transparency.

As a business leader, you need to be aware of the information that is being sent to various subgroups within an organization and how they will process that information. This is crucial when it comes to getting a solution that’s beneficial for all parties involved. Efficient business leaders are those who are able to deliver the right information by utilizing the right set of tools at the right time.

It is important to note as a business leader that you should never operate on assumptions or under the illusion that your decisions or intentions are clear to the management and the employees. This is why it is important that business leaders use a human-centric approach by considering how information is consumed and by avoiding ways that will foster misinformation in the ranks.

In the future, business owners will have to create an information hierarchy for the effective transmission of the desired information. Business leaders have to be careful when delivering information. The information needs to be clear and actionable and followed by the required details to avoid any panic or confusion.

Sending long-winded emails is the perfect example of what not to do and will only lead to further confusion or panic. During these stressful times, it is important for business leaders not to just focus on what your staff cannot do, but rather, empower them by informing them on what they can do during this pandemic.

Governments are showing how this can be done by sharing daily updates with its citizens as the pandemic evolves. By understanding how their audience would react to the information, governments have been careful not to spread panic. Similarly, businesses need to employ such transparency to build trust in their employees and stakeholders.

Rewards and Incentives

Rewards and incentives have been an effective way of building an agile culture in the workplace. But, the recent outbreak and the regulations that have come along with it makes it difficult for companies to adhere to their traditional methods of rewarding their employees. Measures such as social distancing mean that businesses are no longer operating with in-house employees, which makes rewarding deserving employees even harder.

The first challenge is that employees find it harder to feel the tangible rewards for their contributions. This may result in many employees thinking that their efforts do not make an impact, or their behavioral change of following social distancing has not made a difference. Since we as humans do not react well to delayed gratification, when someone who has stayed isolated in their homes and doesn’t see a change in the numbers of infected, that can significantly decrease their motivation.

It is up to companies to encourage their employees by building reward structures according to the new changes. In this way, a reward structure can be an effective tool that can be used to incentivize employees during this time of social isolation. The rewards that you use can be intrinsic or extrinsic, but in putting such a system in place, you can make a positive change in the dynamics of the ecosystems in which your employees operate.

When it comes to the type of reward or incentive that organizations can use while building an agile culture, businesses can use gamification or monetization, or use social rewards to incentivize their employees even during this time of working remotely. All of these types of rewards can be utilized as a response to the recent coronavirus outbreak to make employees feel a sense of appreciation even without any physical contact and while following social distancing requirements.

Staying Connected

While working on problem-solving during the coronavirus outbreak can be difficult, it still remains an essential component of a business. Although social distancing has made it difficult for management and colleagues to stay connected while working remotely, staying connected is key for business success.

Staying connected, in this case, is having the tools to communicate efficiently with a workforce regardless of geographical constraints. While there are many companies that are privy to using various technologies to stay connected with their workforce on the ground, in a post coronavirus working environment, more companies will need to adapt to these changes.

It is important for business owners to use creativity and empathy when it comes to addressing the issues of staying connected during social distancing, mainly because the decisions that are made today can have long-term implications for the company. While it might not be easy to make some unpopular decisions, it is crucial for business leaders to use a human centric approach towards maintaining streamlined communication between their employees and all other stakeholders during these circumstances.

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LA CULTURA DIGITALE AZIENDALE E I SUOI LEADER CORAGGIOSI. LA SOCIETA’ DI MARKETING DIGITALE ITALIANA “DERAWEB” COME ESEMPIO DI ECCELLENZA NELLA GESTIONE DELLE RISORSE UMANE

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INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Ciao Fabio, grazie per aver accettato la nostra intervista e per quanto vorrai condividere con noi. Cominciamo: chi è Fabio De Lucia?

Fabio De Lucia: Ciao e grazie per questa intervista. Sono nato il 21 marzo del 1986 e il percorso accademico mi ha qualificato come perito commerciale con il massimo dei voti. Dopo la maturità e coerentemente con il mio approccio pratico alla vita, trovavo inefficace continuare a studiare per qualcosa di “non-tangibile”, quindi sono partito per Parigi e una volta rientrato, ho trovato impiego presso un’agenzia viaggi nel 2005. Ho iniziato a interessarmi a piani di sviluppo per implementare e migliorare i prodotti offerti. Credevo in quello che facevo ma, non trovando riscontro positivo da parte del mio titolare, ho rassegnato le dimissioni. All’epoca conoscevo già il mio caro amico e colui che sarebbe diventato il mio socio, Andrea (Dettole), il quale lavorava nel settore utilities nel nord Italia. Unendo le nostre conoscenze e competenze, nel 2008 abbiamo avviato Sundera, azienda di vendita servizi Business To Business (o B2B) e assistenza nel campo delle utilities: mi occupavo principalmente dei piani di sviluppo commerciale.

HR Revolution: Come nasce la web agency Deraweb e quale la sua mission?

Fabio De Lucia: Dall’esperienza positiva pregressa, nel 2016 abbiamo deciso di fondare con Andrea la società di marketing digitale Deraweb, brand partner della primogenita Sundera. L’impreparazione dei titolari di partita IVA in fatto di marketing e digitalizzazione dei prodotti aziendali – riscontrata a livello nazionale – è stato il fattore chiave che ha dato vita a Deraweb. La nostra azienda ha l’obiettivo di fornire strumenti efficaci per lo sviluppo aziendale in prospettiva di promozione digitale. In quattro anni il nostro pacchetto clienti è cresciuto in tutta Italia e su piano internazionale, acquisendo 600 clienti e con proiezione di raggiungere quota mille entro fine anno. La famiglia Deraweb conta oggi 15 dipendenti e 20 consulenti.

HR Revolution: Le Risorse Umane sono le componenti-chiave per il successo imprenditoriale. Il COVID-19 ha inevitabilmente imposto un cambiamento degli equilibri nella gestione aziendale. Come avete affrontato la sfida in fatto di nuovi assetti, ripianificazione e gestione del personale?

Fabio De Lucia: Il nostro metodo operativo prevede la maggior parte del lavoro da remoto. Gli strumenti digitali dunque, si sono confermati lo strumento indispensabile nel nostro lavoro; la pandemia è stata un elemento positivo in fatto di consolidamento di Deraweb. Si è trattato di un periodo di transizione per tutti. Nonostante uno stop forzato per alcuni e il crollo degli incassi nel mese di marzo, i nostri dipendenti si sono messi a completa disposizione dell’azienda, dei clienti, contribuendo in modo non indifferente alla buona riuscita degli intenti. Ci sono stati tutti vicini. Sono stati bravi e vanno tutti elogiati per questo.

HR Revolution: Cultura Digitale Aziendale: la risoluzione di problemi attraverso l’utilizzo di strumenti digitali si è rivelata un elemento vincente nella gestione del pacchetto-clienti durante la crisi pandemica?

Fabio De Lucia: Da titolari di azienda, nel supporto ai clienti e per una gestione ottimale dei servizi offerti, abbiamo deciso di operare in modo differente rispetto ai concorrenti. Abbiamo fornito gli strumenti necessari alla “sopravvivenza pandemica” con metodo studiato e mirato, soprattutto gratuito. In che modo? Creando manuali, guide strategiche “BUSINESS WORKOUT”, webinar e consulenze gratuite a disposizione dei clienti per evitare il fenomeno dell’inazione. Non a caso, il feedback è stato assolutamente positivo: abbiamo rafforzato il rapporto di reciprocità e fiducia con i nostri clienti, premiando inoltre coloro i quali hanno rispettato le scadenze in un periodo tanto complesso, fornendo un’estensione gratuita di un mese del servizio. Quest’approccio ci ha permesso di registrare risultati esponenzialmente più alti nel nostro ambito, a dispetto delle previsioni che la condizione economica generale avrebbe imposto.

HR Revolution: Spesso si pone l’accento sulla fidelizzazione del cliente, sottovalutando che la riuscita di un progetto o l’acquisizione di un contratto, derivi da un’ottima commistione di professionalità ed energie di un gruppo omogeneo e coeso. Dicci di più del tuo team. Sono importanti la Diversità e l’Inclusione in Deraweb e perché?

Fabio De Lucia: Assolutamente sì, per noi Diversità e Inclusione sono importanti. E rendono Deraweb un ambiente stimolante: il clima aziendale assume il giusto equilibrio tra competenze, rispetto delle qualità di ognuno e dimensione umana. Abbiamo messo in atto un modello di leadership che ispira gli altri e invoglia a migliorarsi. Dal consulente commerciale al servizio clienti, ai tecnici grafici, addetti marketing, comunicazione e social media, l’elemento della formazione continua inoltre, ha permesso di stabilire la gestione dei progetti in cui, senza più necessità di definizione esplicita, ogni membro del gruppo conosce esattamente il suo ruolo all’interno del processo. 

C’è fiducia e stima reciproca, spirito di sacrificio e altrettanta collaborazione. Da parte nostra c’è attenzione alle proposte di ognuno. Il mio lavoro mi ha dato modo di visitare tante aziende e conoscere altre realtà, ma qui da noi c’è un clima diverso, un clima che piace e che permette di lavorare secondo un equilibrio che dimostra quanto i nostri ragazzi siano “allineati”: in Deraweb proprio non riesce ad arrivare qualcuno che non abbia i nostri stessi valori.

HR Revolution: La Parità di Genere è un obiettivo di rilievo in una realtà aziendale. Definiresti l’equilibrio di genere parte integrante del vostro successo?

Fabio De Lucia: Sì, le donne nella nostra azienda sono un valore aggiunto e particolarmente apprezzate. Hanno un approccio naturalmente diverso all’ascolto del cliente e alla gestione di una richiesta. Sempre attente ai dettagli, precise, sicuramente meno impulsive in fatto creativo rispetto agli uomini. È una scelta aziendale mirata, quella di impostare gruppi di lavoro misti: sono la sintesi perfetta che genera stabilità. In Italia si parla troppo poco di Parità di Genere sul posto di lavoro, noi invece siamo ben felici di dare possibilità di crescita e carriera alle nostre dipendenti, mamme incluse! Sono tutte ben accolte, troviamo che siano una risorsa irrinunciabile e grande indice di maturità nel nostro team. Da sempre puntiamo su piani di sviluppo aziendale assolutamente paritari; la famiglia Deraweb è un gruppo eterogeneo che ha fatto anche di questo equilibrio un punto di forza. 

Grazie Fabio per averci aperto le porte di Deraweb e condiviso con HR Revolution Middle East, l’esempio positivo di una realtà aziendale solida che ha fatto delle Risorse Umane il suo motivo di orgoglio!

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Transforming into Human Centric Organizations

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Written By: Hanane Benkhallouk

With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are finally realizing the importance of building human centric organizations. But, this can be easier said than done since every business involves several moving parts which all have to function perfectly to move forward with everyday business processes.

They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” in which case, being inventive is something that is sorely needed now more than ever, considering how companies are forced to work around the coronavirus pandemic.

It needs to be said that the success of any company in this new normal is going to be measured not only by its numbers but by the way in which a company adapts to ease the human experience during a time of crisis. This is what makes building a human centric organization more relevant as we go through these difficult times.

Needless to say, the decisions that business leaders make during the coronavirus outbreak will have a long-term impact on the health and financial well-being of not only the business itself, but its stakeholders, and more importantly, its people.

In a world where there is no sign of a cure for this pandemic, basic human needs have to be kept front and center while businesses adapt and change to these new circumstances. Keeping that in mind, here are some of the best practices that businesses can use when it comes to building human centric organizations.

Recognize the Needs and Goals of the People You’re Working With

It is important to understand that everybody has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of us have been affected by the pandemic in the same way. Business leaders need to start to understand the needs of the customers, stakeholders and their workforce, and work on ways in which the organization can fulfill each of them. This can only be achieved when one takes a human centric approach while responding to changes in business processes and other areas caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

For instance, schools and other educational institutions have closed their doors and are promoting homeschooling for the safety of their students. This seems like an obvious choice considering the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak in recent months.

But, many schools failed to take into account that there are many students who don’t just rely on their schools not just to get an education, but also for the safe environment that schools and colleges provide. For instance, some students can’t afford to travel home or do not have safe homes to return to.

As a business leader, it is important to consider all implications of the decisions you make, especially at a time of crisis, such as the coronavirus outbreak. Only business leaders who recognize and take proactive steps towards human centric solutions will prevent their decisions from creating more problems for the organization.

We are seeing this play out in many businesses across various niches, while some businesses have been quick to adapt to the new work from home lifestyle to make it easier on their employees, others have been struggling to cope with this new challenge.

Evaluate Current Customer/Employee Experience

Customers are an important part of any business offering a product or service, but so too are its staff. The first step that needs to be taken while building human centric organizations is to understand the scope interactions, both between customer and business, and the communication within the various departments of an organization. What are these interactions? Who is involved in these interactions? Where and why do they take place? Are there any physical or digital bottlenecks that need to be improved?

Working on a way to build a more human centric organization without taking into account these crucial questions will only create gaps in the customer and employee experience with a business. Since most businesses have gone digital following the outbreak of the coronavirus, any gap in the digital communication between the business and its employees or customers can result in a feeling of helplessness, or worse, misinformation, which can have further negative consequences.

Prototyping and Testing

While trying out new and innovative solutions in these testing times could feel frivolous, the goal should be to validate your idea(s), whether it’s adopting a new digital tool or adding or subtracting processes to streamline everyday business affairs. It is important to note that this testing does not have to be perfect. And while getting people to adapt to a certain need is hard enough as it is, leave alone asking them to adapt to the new digital normal, it is important to test solutions using service design methods that will give you quick insights on any cracks in the system. Not being afraid of prototyping and testing will allow businesses to deliver appropriate solutions while maintaining their new social distancing measures.

Ending Note

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has forced business leaders to make quick decisions and solve problems under new and unfamiliar circumstances. With conditions that are constantly shifting, the need for building human centric organizations for long-term sustainability is being felt now more than ever. In short, businesses regardless of the industry or niche have to put people at the heart of their business and the decision making process.

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