The COVID-19 pandemic has fast transcended the original premise of being a global health crisis and is now resulting in one of the most significant workplace transformations in recent times. What is becoming increasingly clear, is that, the virus, even after it comes under control, would have changed organizations and the workforce in its wake permanently.
Not everything is grim, however. Some of the changes do seem positive. This article is a step away from the tactical and is instead a glimpse into, what could be tectonic shifts at organizations, post the pandemic.
Talent Here, Talent There, Talent Everywhere…
Given that Work from Home (WFH) is most likely becoming a permanent fixture in our professional lives going forward, organizations will have access to talent that is more geographically dispersed. It will effectively mean that your people can sit and work from any city, town or village. On the one hand, this has significant potential to lower payroll costs to the company because the cost of living in non-urban areas is comparatively lesser. What that also translates into is increased opportunities for people who can now work for their dream company without having to shift from one place to another. At a mid-management level, people make compromises in their careers because of family restrictions. If your spouse is in a good job in Bangalore or your neighbor makes some delicacies for you after watching Master Chef, chances are that you won’t take that promotion or a new job in Delhi. The removal of the geographical constraint is probably the one variable that will result in a more efficient allocation of talent across the world.
Equal Opportunities for Women
Another big possibility thanks to WFH is an increased representation of women in the organization. Women in India are still under-represented in the workforce compared to men, as many talented women stop going to work after their wedding or after having a child. For the ones who are talented, but due to multiple personal reasons are unable to explore opportunities that demand them to be physically present in offices, this is a great chance to change that - permanently. There exists an exceptional pool of talent that is grossly under-utilized due to so-called cultural reasons but the post-COVID world holds an opportunity to change that.
Gig will go Big...
Volatility has been a feature of business over the last many years, and businesses have increasingly been talking about being adaptable to change. COVID-19 has given a serious push to this perspective. The ability to adapt people costs with changing demand will become a strategic imperative. This can be achieved only if a larger part of a company’s workforce becomes a variable cost. This means, not just front-line and factory workers, but even mid-level management and high-quality talent can be recruited on contract for project-based work. While this doesn’t seem like something to look forward to in the current scenario, it does offer the worker flexibility to work across organizations and give them greater freedom to make choices about taking a pause. Which millennial doesn’t want that?
Building Culture and Policies Around People
As more and more of the workforce becomes remote, emotional connect to an organization will reduce as a direct outcome of reduced physical interactions between people. The propensity to change jobs, hence, is going to be much higher. Organizations that don’t have forward-looking policies and don’t put a concerted effort to build a good culture, will see this bond deteriorate much faster. A business is ultimately an organization, and an organization is built by people. The talent world is going to get more fluid – companies that have ignored building a good culture and people-focused policies will need to wake up!
While the picture currently does not seem to look great, the future holds much promise. Every previous economic shock has transformed the labor force and organizations for the better. COVID will be no different and will surely “make way for the new”. The future of work may well provide a lot more flexibility and freedom to individuals has the potential to make organizations more diverse and representative and holds promise for companies to manage human capital more efficiently. That is surely something to look forward to.