Has COVID-19 transformed the way we work forever?
2020 has been a transformation year with new working and collaboration methods, bringing a paradigm shift in employee experience. A remote workforce is no longer a distant concept, and virtual collaboration with whiteboarding during meetings, virtual celebrations, and community impact initiatives is the new normal. What employees miss the most are the in-person meetings with their friends in the office or their engagement in onsite activities like fun clubs, musical garage, board games, arts & theater, etc. The people or employees in any organization are the most valuable assets. Remote working experienced its change management curve of denial, doubt, and acceptance. When the work from home policy was applied globally, the challenge of unknowns emerged, like productivity, working environment at home, health, and wellness, and falling sick. For a seamless employee experience during testing times, it was imperative to address these employee concerns and be flexible to keep evolving with the new information.
Organizations modified their policies and enhanced support for handling anxiety and sickness. Some of the best practices emerging from this situation are an extra allowance for employees for ergonomic WFH equipment, extending counseling sessions with doctors, and creating helplines for any time support. In many countries around the world, as the mandatory work from home, the practice continues.
Leaders around the world didn't have it all figured out. By applying their personal experiences and challenges, we discovered some of the challenges our employees faced; however, we couldn't express or discuss. We increased internet bandwidth to cope with a load of online classes for kids and the WFH situation.
Diversity and inclusion gained even more prominence for planning the work from home guidelines and practices. My ordeals helped me realize that working women would have the most challenging time in this situation – especially those with young kids and other leaders worldwide. Ensure that women have the right support to not require unwanted leave of absence or find themselves having to choose between personal commitments and career aspirations. The flexibility in working hours to part-time options increased significantly. Organizations hosted new training modules for people managers to sensitize remote managing teams that align with their vision and values.
So, what's the future of work? I see these trends.
By 2021, more than 30% of the workforce will be able to work from home. Cisco envisions that by 2025, companies will have a hybrid model, and we will be more deliberate in who comes to the office. The shift could make companies rethink their real estate footprint. The new work model has exemplified that focused employees can work from anywhere and anytime with the right preferences and flexibility. Culture and country-specific geographies play a prominent role. For instance, in Bangalore, most employees are accustomed to working from home due to commuting time.
Government policies and regulations
Pre-pandemic regulations for specific service sectors like the customer tech support group restricted them from working from home for all security purposes. Due to the Department of Telecom's commendable and swift decision-making, such policies also evolved and will continue to grow.
Business Continuity Process (BCP)
A valuable lesson from COVID19 is that the holy grail of business resiliency- Business Continuity Process – is no longer optional. From here on, organizations will only get better and expand the nature and kind of contingencies.
Classroom training or regular schools to be virtual was unimagined for fashion giants to adopt the online model in addition to or over traditional brick and mortar stores. The pandemic disrupted people's purchasing behavior and how they perceived e-commerce. According to IBEF, the market opportunities for online transactions in India are expected to touch $200 billion by 2026.
COVID-19 yet again proves Darwin's theory of survival of resilient businesses and the ones that adapted to digitization.