What ‘now’ is the ‘future of work'?
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The future of work came faster than we thought. The crisis brought forth the importance of innovation, resilience, and adaptability. Though at the initial stage of the lockdown, it was all about managing employees working virtually. As it went on, employers started looking to innovation to manage different aspects of work. ‘We have figured out how to work from home and companies have started giving out infrastructure to help workers become more productive. But unfortunately, our homes are not designed for “work”. And leading from a distance still remains a challenge,’ said Indrajeet Sengupta, Executive Director and Chief Human Resources Officer, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, in a session of the Skillsoft Perspectives 2021, titled ‘If the future of work is now, what now is the future?’ moderated by Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor in Chief, People Matters.
Having said that, the unexpected things that emerged from the crisis for us is increased business performance and innovation and flexibility, Indrajeet added. Adding to the flip side, Manu Wadhwa, Global Business Executive, Board Member & CHRO, Sony Pictures Networks, shared an example of how leveraging technology has been helpful in cutting the cost of show production. Talking about one of the highest-rated reality shows, she said that Sony India started auditioning people virtually which garnered huge traction. ‘We had a 6X oversubscription on people coming for the audition. The numbers shot up from 500,000 to about three million people applying for online auditions in the first two weeks itself,’ said Wadhwa.
The positive results of the changes were already evident. Talking about the elasticity of jobs in Sony Picture, Wadhwa added that mapping the elasticity of each function has helped evaluate what the future may look like. It is important to understand which functions can be performed well irrespective of the location.
‘The elasticity has helped us map every employee whether the frontline people managing shoots or the corporate employees,’ said Manu Wadhwa.
Citing the present scenario of the market, Sengupta said that companies should focus on employee feedback, as employee engagement has become highly crucial today.
‘Feedback can help us redesign the work and figure out what's the best way. So we are in our model, again,’ added Indrajeet Sengupta.
Out of all the aspects of employee well-being, leaders recognize mental health as one of the major aspects which require special attention today. Commenting on this, Indrajeet Sengupta said that the best way to ensure good mental health and prevent burnout is yet to be discovered. But it is undeniable that mental health is a crucial aspect of the future of work and will continue to be so in the hybrid model.
The transitioning workforce has driven mandates on a few things on a daily basis in the work-life - collaboration being the most important one. Given the changing definition of remote work and increasing affinity of the workforce towards the hybrid model, Wadhwa suggests that focusing on collaborative work structure is likely to be one of the keys to the treasure-hunt of the new work structure. She suggested that the roles of team leaders and managers are very important today. It becomes imperative for them to keep in touch with every employee and have every update in order to ensure they feel included and productive, without hindering their mental peace.