It's difficult to recall the last time we walked into an office building, punched our entry, and shared workstations with co-workers without wearing a mask. 'Work from Home,' 'Work from Anywhere,' 'Remote Working,' and other such terms have evolved into more than arcane jargon in a transformed work dynamic that is shaping the new normal. Indian and global organisations across sectors have either adapted to and allowed their staff to work remotely indefinitely or have progressively transitioned to a hybrid model (work from Home + Office), with each company carving its own path to return to 'near normalcy.'
Stepping into this altered realm of workspace has been arduous for both employers and employees, especially with the bubble of the pandemic hovering above our heads.
As work-life picks up the redefined pace, although not at maximum capacity, the following are a few evolving aspects and changing nature of the workplace that organisations or employers are evaluating for a smoother transition to the newer times.
Hybrid and remote work models
Perhaps the most immediate and far-reaching Covid-related impact on our work lives is the increase in remote work and the growing popularity of hybrid models of working, which combine work-from-home practices with in-person work. Adapting to these has served as a beneficial transaction for both employees and employers. While the former partly saves on the cost and time of commute and enjoys more work-life balance with increased flexibility and independence, the latter witnesses reduced business and overhead costs, higher retention rates, and a wider talent pool.
Augmenting humans-technology interaction
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that people and technology are more powerful when they work together. It is nearly impossible for technology to move forward without ample human intervention. Artificial Intelligence (AI) may appear to take over a major chunk of operations, but instilling creativity is something that only humans are capable of doing. Manufacturing, healthcare, education, and the transportation of crucial supplies are just a few examples of how human-machine collaboration may help during a crisis. The amalgamation of AI and human resources holds the capacity to deliver stellar outputs. Organisations have the option to take this integration to the next level once the return-to-work process begins.
A recent report by the World Economic Forum forecasted that AI and Automation would collectively lead to about 97 million new jobs in the next three years.
The shift from time-driven work to purpose-driven work
For the longest, workplaces have had an orchestrated time schedule within which the task must be consummated. However, the post-pandemic crises have rendered a realisation that a time-oriented framework undermines productivity and in turn, effectiveness. People have gotten accustomed to working from spaces that unclog their thought processes without a floating cloud of 'punching out' time overhead. As per a survey conducted by Instahyre, an AI-based advanced recruiting platform, 87% of companies reported a 36% improvement in productivity per employee as a result of teleworking.
Rethinking the gig economy
After Covid-19, India's employment market is plagued by high staff turnover rates, and organisations across all industries are turning to freelancers or gig talent to address the demand-supply gap. In recent years, the skills and talent deficit has fueled the growth of the gig economy, which has now witnessed an uptick due to the pandemic. Because traditional employment arrangements are still uncertain due to the pandemic, firms will need to expand their use of gig workers post Covid-19 to be able to scale their workforce up and down as needed.
Social and mental wellbeing
While the first wave of the pandemic raised awareness of the hitherto overlooked issue of personal well-being in corporate India, the second wave emphasised the significance of family health to employees' overall well-being. Employee well-being now encompasses both criteria, and the impact is palpable. Burnout and occupational stress are being addressed more intelligently by businesses. The ongoing Covid problem keeps mental health and well-being at the pinnacle of the CXO's priority list. A framework for designing, implementing, auditing, and monitoring organisational wellness is a necessary precursor toward overcoming the crisis and establishing psychological protections.
According to recent research, poor mental health can result in a 35% drop in production and greater attrition rates. Hence, companies are becoming more aware of the value of their employees' mental wellness. It has been seen that employee morale and productivity, are both affected by poor mental health.
India’s technical infrastructure has undoubtedly evolved following the 2nd wave of the pandemic. To get employees acquainted with this upgradation in technology, companies are now focussing immensely on talent retention and employee development programmes. An adaptive model encapsulating evolved skills and mindset needs to be put in place to inspire innovation for what’s next and beyond. Workers have been enhancing their skills and abilities in order to improve their skills and prepare for the current day, which requires technical knowledge, futuristic skill sets, and leadership characteristics in order to tackle the different challenges of the modern era.
Adaptation to a virtual and hybrid ecosystem has laid the groundwork for upskilling and unfurled a new learning curve for the workforce. While companies are trying to navigate this storm, efforts must be put in to uphold the resilience and determination of the employees, so they continue working to their optimum potential.
As capable and output drove the workforce is, there is a need to form critical alliances so that the employee pipeline can resurface. This is not only pivotal to business recovery but also helps in making employees more competent in delivering what they specialise in, to the best of their capacity. After all, the HR or People’s division everywhere and in any environment is committed to building & empowering great teams.