COVID-19 has tested all our assumptions regarding work: BCG’s Rahul Guha
As the world of work faces the disruption brought forward by the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has changed and needs to be changed in the way workplaces function. The pandemic has accelerated the need to ensure that people around the globe have the necessary technology skills and access to do their jobs. Talent development too has now become a totally new ball game for talent leaders. So, what would the workplace look like when it resumes normal operations? Would organizations go back to old ways of working and managing talent or will these new ways of working remain as the new normal? The future is uncertain, but organizations have already started working on what it would mean for them.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Rahul Guha, Managing Director and Partner & Recruiting Chair, India, Boston Consulting Group, talks about how the world of work has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19 and how it will impact the recruitment industry in particular.
As Managing Director and Partner in the Mumbai office of Boston Consulting Group, Guha leads the Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice focused on Pharma and Process industry. He has worked across the Health Care & Life Sciences practice both in India and the US. He is also a topic expert in commercial operations, cost & throughput efficiency, smart simplicity and organization design.
Guha is also the Recruitment Chair for BCG India and has previously led the People and Organization Practice in India. A significant portion of his work lies in these core areas – Commercial excellence - Digital – Cost reduction – Throughput improvement - Pricing – Building mega brands – Agile development in R&D. He has extensive project experience in Pharma and Medtech and actively participates in Industry forums and bodies helping them with Industry inputs.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak changed the way we work?
COVID-19 and the lockdown has challenged all our assumptions on effectiveness and working models. In the face of the outbreak, there has been a huge shift towards remote working. We are now more remote than ever, more flexible than ever and funnily, quite connected with our clients and peers. The work-from-home model is working quite well for us, with most of our teams using remote work platforms to interact with the client and team. To be honest, we haven’t seen a significant decline in productivity.
What will the new world of work or post COVID-19 workplace look like?
COVID-19 has tested all our assumptions. It has established new ways of working which will likely hold true for times to come. We see us being more comfortable with remote working, supporting all kinds of flex models which we can explore to engage and retain our staff. Leaders are more comfortable with virtual collaboration and have now seen the benefits and convenience of using these tools.
How will organizations look at talent post COVID-19? What are the biggest worries keeping talent leaders awake at night?
For us, talent requirements will remain the same – our talent pool is quite specific. However, what is keeping us awake is whether our talent search model will scale to the current reality. We will need to ensure our recruiting process scales to the new reality as soon as possible. We are finding ways to connect with talent virtually, exploring virtual events.
How will the recruitment industry change post COVID-19?
I think the cost structure of the recruiting industry will change. A lot of the meeting / travel cost linked to candidate selection will go away. Scheduling interviews / meetings will be easier and therefore time to select will become faster as well. Things will move faster to closure, and recruiting companies that have invested in technologies to keep pace with this change will emerge as winners. Specifically tools to enable remote scheduling, interviewing, etc. will really pay dividends.
According to the ongoing People Matters COVID-19: Impact & measurement survey, 73% of the participating companies do not have a post lockdown strategy. What is your take on this?
I think the perspective is closely linked to timing. In the last few days, as clarity has begun to emerge, many companies have started to shape their post lockdown strategy, typically with a visibility of approximately 100 days. That makes sense, as the priority is to kick-off, but it is important for companies to refresh their strategy and factor in key upsides/downsides emerging from the COVID-19 situation.
What are the best practices companies can embrace in uncertain times like COVID-19? How can they prepare to bounce back?
If you are a farmer, you know never to eat your seed corn. In our business, our people are our seed corn. It is important to preserve that competitive advantage so that we can bounce back quicker than our competition and that remains our priority. Standing by your promise in the market will make the difference on attracting and retaining talent in the future.
Image source: Express Pharma