A lot has changed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world. Organizations globally have already embraced a new normal which is predominantly virtual. The work is getting a different meaning altogether and so is the workplace which is evolving amid this changing scenario. Most importantly, the workforce is changing especially the way they work. We are seeing the emergence of a very strong evolution of distributed workforce, says Shaakun Khanna, Head of Human Capital Management Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle, at TechHR India 2020, in a chat with Emily He, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, Oracle.
The new normal comprises of multiple things. “The new normal is the representation of our human instinct. When we are hit with a disruption like this, our first reaction is anger, frustration, and denial and then gradually we start accepting the new elements,” says Emily. The COVID-19 has been very unpredictable which has changed the very human psyche and our ability to adapt to constant change. As the government announced shutdowns, the ripple effect has been seen in our lives including our workplace. So disruption, innovation, and new thinking will be an everyday phenomenon as we come out of this pandemic. Our work process and systems will be in a constant mode of transformation, Emily adds.
“The new normal is not going to be normal and the new reset will see a lot of things change and disruption will become an integral part of our lives especially with the context to work. As a matter of fact, the world of work will move to a new style which is agile and resilient,” adds Shaakun.
Embracing agile business practices
What will agility in the future of work look like? Citing the philosophy of Gautam Buddha, Emily says, live in the present moment. Every organization across industries and countries today is dealing with different sets of challenges depending on their situations with varying economic conditions. However, there are certain changes that are universal that every single organization can work around. The first one is the importance of humanity and empathy. “A lot of workers are working from home while taking care of family and being mindful of safety. On the other side, there are workers like in retail and healthcare industries who need to go to their workplace. So empathy is very critical in today’s scenario,” argues Emily. Workers who are working from home are also facing fatigue. So managers and HR need to proactively communicate with their employees and make sure they are engaged while showing empathy, Emily adds. Employers need to update their leave policies for employees to deal with the current situation.
The second thing is the new workplace. In pre-pandemic days, the workplace is used to be about physical space characterized by physical connectedness but today the scenario has changed with digital connections taking over. The overnight transition to work from home warranted a lot of new technological requirements for companies across industries globally. This required a lot of businesses to push their businesses to the cloud. I foresee a lot of tech innovations as we come out of this pandemic to enable connect and engage employees in a meaningful and productive way.
Lastly, businesses also need to be agile in terms of tech adoption and adapting to the changing times given the changing business environment and changing customer expectations. It’s critical for organizations to react really quickly and implement new business models and pursue new initiatives. As we know, travel and hospitality suffered badly while businesses like retail have seen increased business gains. They had to hire staff overnight to be able to meet customers’ needs. So having a tech platform that allows you to keep track of customer demands, respond to the demands in an agile way is pivotal for any business today, Emily adds.
Work used to be separate traditionally from life and this pandemic brought us together in a new reality where work and life are one and this is good for all of us, states Emily.
Traditionally, it has been believed that robust business processes form the foundations for business resilience. Now given the situation, we may see the dilution of processes amid the flexibility culture that we all are embracing. So, how do organizations show resilience?
Risk mitigation comes in play here. Technologies such as AI and machine learning can help detect risks and compliance issues. Revisiting leave policies and medical health benefits programs are also important. On the other hand, employers also need to empower employees to make decisions quickly. This requires a high degree of trust and empowerment. It is important to let employees do experiments and fail fast and come up with new ideas. The ability of an organization to let its employees experiment also depends on the maturity of its digital ecosystem. So a strong technology backbone is critical for organizations to sail through this uncertain time and let their employee come out with their best.