The pandemic has changed how and where we work from and in the process redefined the ‘New Workplace’. It has ushered in significant transformation in the workplace and its culture and has made organisations embrace newer ways of working through the adoption of skills and technologies to achieve business imperatives. The ‘not so old’ work environment which was once defined by our permanent presence in office being the indicator of a productive and engaged workforce suddenly seems archaic. Flexibility has become the norm and is not considered to be a ‘progressive’ policy anymore. The new workplace is also witnessing accelerated implementation of some workforce trends which were being talked about as a distant picture of the workplace of the future before the pandemic. That future seems to have arrived today and here is what we are perhaps gearing up for:
Automation & Artificial Intelligence
The permanence of the pandemic, need for social distancing and substantial investments in ensuring safety and hygiene protocols for the workforce is making organisations revisit all the processes which are currently manual, at a pace which has not been witnessed before. Businesses want to safeguard their future against such ‘black swan’ events as the current pandemic has jolted organisations to respond to the unprecedented crisis, let alone being prepared to effectively deal with! Automation is not only progressive, but also aids in the reduction of business costs over a period of time. Hence it is being seen as an extremely welcome move across industries. However, as artificial intelligence makes forays into the workplace, the challenge will be to balance the human touch and ensure that the employees continue to feel a sense of social connection and belonging to their workplace.
Skills, not Degrees
A recent report by McKinsey & Co highlights a significant shift in mix of occupations by 2030 with certain skills getting a premium and even phasing out some of the skills which are sought after in today’s day and age. While the prioritization of the skills may vary basis the economy and the industry, these workforce transitions set off by COVID-19 will see the organisations investing substantially in upskilling, reskilling, training and education programs for their workforce. Organisations may increasingly take a fresh view on what tasks can be done remotely and not necessarily the whole ‘jobs’ which changes the paradigm of employment opportunities. Employees will need to equip themselves with newer skills to remain employed as their ‘degrees’ may no longer be enough to ensure career growth or even continuity of service. Considering this, Marico has launched a focused micro byte-sized learning series on our Learning Experience Platform – BLINK powered by Edcast. Given that it enables members to learn anytime, anywhere at their comfort, consumption of these shorter duration courses has seen an increase. The Live dashboards create a healthy competitive spirit enabling members to learn, share and reflect.
COVID-19 has made the ‘global’ talent pool a reality for organisations! The success experienced with remote working has led to organisations being comfortable with extending opportunities to talent based on their experience and ability to accomplish the task and not their physical location or working hours. This enhanced flexibility will enable increased integration of a diverse, location agnostic workforce, including the talent pool who may have quit careers as personal life priorities prevented them from being a part of physical work spaces.
As we prepare to thrive in a new workplace, we will need to strive to achieve the apt balance of artificial and emotional intelligence. Leadership across organisations will need to anchor and lead the way in this through proactive, planned and recurrent communication and connect with their teams who may be working with them in a physical or virtual workspace. Co-workers who may occasionally meet or never meet each other will need specific interventions to feel a sense of unity as they achieve common business objectives together. Further, a sense of exhaustion from the pandemic does impact the mental wellbeing of the employees and their loved ones. Therefore, organisations will necessarily need to have in place policies to improve employee’s overall well-being. Also, more than external counsellors, training the managers to identify the stress or anxiety triggers and provide support to their teams. ‘Agility’ and ‘Empathy’, therefore, will become the need of the hour- as organisations will be tasked to focus on it in equal measure to meet business and employee expectations and build a profitable, sustainable and happy workforce for their organisation.
As conventional workplaces become a thing of the past, the work culture, too, will transform in sync with the progressive sensibilities of the new era. Only those organisations with empathy and agility at the core of their decision-making processes, focusing on the “human” part of human resource, will thrive in the business ecosystem of the future.