Article: Embracing the new way of working

Life @ Work

Embracing the new way of working

The way we work has always been transforming. This time the trigger is a global health crisis and there are a few trends that are here to stay.
Embracing the new way of working

The world of work is undergoing revolution. Progressive organizations are trying to quickly adapt to the new world by making some key decisions and policy changes.  Gulf Cooperation Council

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region there have been many companies offering temporary pay-cuts or diversified conglomerates shifting their employees from one division to the other to balance the demand and supply.  The pandemic is only a reminder for organizations to prepare for the blueprint for the unexpected.  

This year it’s coronavirus.  Next time and there will be a next time, it could be a natural calamity, recession, talent crunch or something else which is unforeseen and unexpected.  Irrespective of how uncertain the future is, there are some workplace trends that are here to stay for a while. 

With no ‘rules of the game’, and such rapid evolution, it’s not surprising that many companies feel they don’t know where or how to start. They need to look at every decision and strategy with a fresh mindset and be more agile and flexible to move in tune with time.  They have to work on new approaches on a whole range of topics – including how to create a ‘new deal’ that works for their people. 

Redefining the nature of work

Even today most organizations in the Gulf region are managing by “attendance”. There is a mismatch between modern, flexible ways of working and traditional ways of organizing and rewarding work. To close this gap, organizations need new approaches that are not only relevant but also more efficient. Processes will be digitized and workplace automation will further accelerate. New and evolving technologies allow organizations to operate more effectively and more efficiently.  And businesses are realizing the value these technologies bring in. More companies would be introducing virtual ways of doing things that previously required physical presence.  

Move towards liquid workforce

Few organizations in the region are creating “flexible teams” to resolve specific issues, and then disband them afterwards.

HR laws in the GCC region have undergone change in the last three years to allow for part-time employees and internships. The region has also experienced the rise of independent freelance community offering specialized professional services which were rare to find few years ago. In future, we will see more organizations tailoring its resource requirements to the needs of the labour market. Organizations will move towards liquid workforce to capture the best talent regardless of source or nature of contract which may not be employed full-time.

Splitting time for exploring diverse skills

Few global companies are making use of employees’ skills and motivation within the confines of a traditional role.  They have developed a SharePoint platform where employees can give up to 20 percent of their time to projects outside of their respective core roles. 

The 80/20 approach allows for flexibility without the contractual implications of making significant changes to roles and functions. The projects range from large, like supporting big corporate initiatives, to small, like moderating a series of workshops. 

These smaller projects may last just a few weeks and take up less than 20 percent of a person’s working time. Trainees, called ‘Startup’ participants, also work according to the 80/20 principle. That means they follow a set rotation programme for four days of the week and meet on Thursdays to work on joint projects.

Rethinking Reward 

Even after right-sizing in many GCC companies, there is a larger impact of grade/title inflation on performance. In the short-term it is important to preserve operating capacity in the event demand returns to normal sooner than expected by managing leaves and cutting pay for limited time.  

In the intermediate actions, organizations will have to adjust individual performance incentives as conditions normalize and consider crisis-related spot awards where applicable.  In the longer term, organizations will have to not only maintain awards for top-performers but also consider tying bonuses and incentives to crisis-related health and-safety metrics. 


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Topics: Life @ Work, #GuestArticle, #COVID-19

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