The pandemic has precipitated significant, compelling organizations and individuals to rethink & reimagine the future of work. Previously, most businesses relied on a model that required physical presence for activities like offsites, client meetings, and other interactions. However, lockdowns and social distancing norms unwittingly changed the paradigm- one in which employees work from the safety of their homes.
While we have embraced this normal with great agility, there are strong indications that such an approach will continue even on the other side of the pandemic. We will likely see a hybrid workplace and workforce, where organizations will ably harness physical and virtual workspaces.
- Renewed Focus on Worker Resilience and Mental Health: The pandemic has underscored health relevance and spotlighted mental health. While employees now have to navigate the new work environment, they also deal with isolation, distancing, and anxiety. In such a scenario, organizations need to focus more on supporting their employees and ensuring their mental well-being. This support could range from having workshops on dealing with anxiety to arranging for one-on-one sessions with mental health professionals. Since most interactions are transactional today, social capital is needed to envisage new and practical engagement activities.
- Employers will shift from managing Employee Experience to managing Life Experience for their Employees: Working from home proved to be an apt panacea during the pandemic. However, it has also made management realize the struggles employees have to face when working from home. For example, in addition to managing their work schedules, employees also need to take care of their families and run the household. This means that more needs to be done to support employees, such as expenses towards setting up workstations & internet connections, periodic breaks to spend time with loved ones, and more.
- More Focus on Training and Up-skilling: The world is fast-changing, and so is the workplace of tomorrow. Technology plays a more critical role in our lives and is becoming an integral part of business operations. To keep up with evolving technology, organizations need to provide employees with relevant opportunities to up-skill and train for a technologically powered world. Organizations must arrange leadership workshops, knowledge sessions, and training on developing emotional quotient and soft skills from a technology aspect.
- Build Agile Business Environments and create a more Diverse & Inclusive work environment: “It is not the strongest of the species but the most adaptable that survives the change". To survive and thrive in the new world, businesses should establish an agile, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-follow philosophy, thus creating a holistic and sustainable business model. Further, it is crucial to understand that agile does not mean changing philosophy. Instead, it means changing the way of working while staying tethered to one’s philosophy. For example, investing in a new ERP system to empower employees with new technology tools enables them to create an ideal work-life balance. More importantly, organizations increasingly understand the need to create a diverse and inclusive work environment. Such a culture should be encouraged from the top while training employees on the importance of inclusivity.
- Technology-powered solutions will bridge the gap between Human and Digital teams: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become a strategic partner for human-digital teams, enabling organizations and employees to function more effectively and intuitively. Further, technology solutions will be used across functions to enhance productivity. For example, the HR analytics function will play a much more significant role by measuring the impact of HR activities on critical stakeholders. It can leverage data analytics to assess the number of people who cleared an interview and who did not, decipher which rounds had the maximum drop-offs, identify factors contributing to attrition, etc.
The business environment is constantly changing. Organizations moving to stay ahead of the curve must be agile and ready to embrace the new imperatives of the changing environment. However, the thing to remember is that an organization’s success stays firmly tethered to the efficiency and well-being of its employees.