Article: The future of workspaces will be defined by flexibility: The Executive Centre MD - South Asia

Strategic HR

The future of workspaces will be defined by flexibility: The Executive Centre MD - South Asia

In a candid conversation with People Matters, Nidhi Marwah, Managing Director - South Asia at The Executive Centre shares her views around the measuring of productivity amid the COVID-19 crisis and more.
The future of workspaces will be defined by flexibility: The Executive Centre MD - South Asia

Given that we spend major time of our lives at work, it’s important that the workspace environment is continually re-evaluated, improved and optimized. The nature of work is in a flux, corporate culture is evolving and technology is  also impacting the way the workspaces function. As we prepare to enter a new decade, Nidhi Marwah, Managing Director - South Asia at The Executive Centre shares with us what we should expect amid the constant changes and how effective and efficient workspace will need to be when the personal touch is missing. 

What HR policies do you think have shifted, or will shift, the most in response to COVID-19 and the aftermath?

The pandemic has definitely shifted business priorities around. Organisations are now looking at enhancing people centric policies while simultaneously sustaining their businesses. There has been a significant shift in the HR policies over the course of COVID-19. Employee safety and well-being has continued to remain the top-most focus for companies across the globe. Strategic adoption of flexible working policies has redefined the workspace and HR landscape of companies. This trend is here to stay as organisations have now adapted to this new arrangement of working. 

The importance of health benefits for employees keeping in mind the current global emphasis on health has grown multi-fold. Technology has been at the forefront of all organisations during these unprecedented times and HR policies will continue to leverage this in the future to stay connected with the employees. 

What new or refreshed insights do you think COVID-19 has brought to the forefront around organizational views of well-being - physical, mental, emotional, social, family?

Uncertain times like these could have an impact on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of people. A study conducted during COVID-19 shows that employees are worried about their physical health, balancing professional vs personal responsibilities, new norms of social distancing and remote working. 

It is extremely important for us as organisations to focus and realign our efforts to ensure that we create an environment that fosters conversations and discussion on employee well-being and stability. But most importantly this crisis has taught us the importance of genuine empathy, we will see globally that companies with great policies might fail but organisations with real connections to their teams and their families are able to tide through. 

Keeping in mind how important communication is during a crisis. TEC management hosts regular webinars for our team to keep them updated on our strategies towards the crisis and to share experiences from different countries, this helps us stay connected and informed. In addition to this we conduct many webinars for our internal team and all Global TEC members in over 14 countries, just in the last two weeks we have done webinars with global experts on 

  • Productivity hacks while working from home
  • Mental health and how to deal with anxiety 
  • Webinars from countries in our portfolio who are either over the curve (like China) or doing their best to flatten to curve successfully sharing their experiences with the rest of our global community
  • Leadership and Empathy

Having gone through the period of restrictions on business activities, do you find that you’ve reconsidered how essential roles are defined and assigned at the Executive Centre?

The Executive Centre is known for our hospitality and service levels; this is because we have a strong operations team which is the backbone of TEC. In a health crisis, organisations are reassured that their safety, comfort and confidence are always secure at our centres. Now more than ever, in every industry, we are learning the importance and value of essential service workers. At TEC we have always given importance to our product, price and people, equally. Regulations are tightened to include not only credibility, objectivity and transparency of the operations but also the processes which ensure a safe, secure environment. The final goal being to enhance employee experience to encourage employee engagement. 

How do you think COVID-19 has changed or is changing, the discussion around productivity - its definition, measurement, how it can be improved? What are your own thoughts on the matter with respect to the Executive Centre?

Besides ensuring employee well-being, maintaining and measuring employee productivity has been a critical challenge for business and HR leaders. 

Virtual platforms are emerging as an important tool to connect, plan and measure performance while in a lockdown. Online collaborations amongst teams is very effective in setting down clear goals and providing direction to the employees. 

TEC as an organisation has withstood many different crisis situations over the years, be it GFC, SARS and now Covid 19, from experience we have gathered that strong professional relationships with teams, partners, patrons and clients helps us tide over any uncertainty. Productivity is key and from a HR perspective, it is times like these that give you the opportunity to utilise each team members unique strength to enhance performance in new and innovative ways. 

Which of the changes we see today do you think will remain, or even become more pronounced and entrenched, in six months’ time? One year’s time?

Companies have had to adapt quickly with many investing heavily into facilitating their team’s remote work or business continuity plans. While some have begun to reap the rewards of their newfound working model, the future of work from this point forward will always factor in flexibility. Businesses have learnt the importance of scaling up and scaling down without the burden of cost. Flexible workspaces were a viable option earlier but now it is a staple need for every business. Performance, projection and Perception- Amongst these key factors of valuation – will be added for the long run another one - Partnership. 

COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis? In the post COVID world which technologies will you bet on?

Business leaders have leveraged technology and digital initiatives to cope with and overcome the ongoing crisis. The workspace too has been transformed with digital strategies taking over. Enhancing employee collaboration through technology is a trend that we see is going to stay. Video calls via platforms are a great way to not only collaborate but also unwind with their peers (and their families) and we at TEC swear by it.  

Internal communication is of paramount importance and is a key pillar for our success. We are leveraging tools and channels like webinars to stay connected and pass on the right information to ensure that our employees do not miss out any important. 

Leveraging digital tools such as TEC app and MyTEC, allows all TEC Members to connect across its global network. Through its app, TEC provides access to over 135+ locations globally. Through the TEC portal, TEC Members have access to over 27,000+ Members across the world.

TEC has also been organising webinars with global opinion leaders, leveraging its digital and professional platforms to provide valuable information to its network of Members. TEC is ensuring that these workshops, webinars and other events, help in addressing the challenges and opportunities of its Members ranging from mental health, productivity and business continuity plans. At the end of the day it is not just about the technology it is about how you use it. It’s not about data- it’s the information one can garner from it.

How do you see the future of workspaces and how will technologies evolve to make flexible work easier for employees and employers?

Our ways of working and our workplaces are changing. The global pandemic has further accelerated and exaggerated our need for flexibility. The future of workspaces is going to be defined by stringent safety and hygiene measures. 

Having successfully navigated through both SARS and the GFC, we are redefining our spaces to meet the new normal. Embracing social distancing as a cardinal rule is crucial at TEC and we have ensured that our low-density floor plans are easily adapted to meet the requirements. 

We are also ensuring that we enforce a no-contact policy, temperature checks at the entry points and sanitation process in line with global standards. Workspaces are also leveraging digital technologies to stay connected with customers, employees and other stakeholders to ensure that no business is impacted while maintaining the safety of others.  This pandemic has taught us that flexibility is not just for our workspaces but also in our approach to people management. 

 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #ResetwithTech, #TechHRIn, #TheNewNormal, #COVID-19

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