Reimagining the workplace after COVID-19 pandemic

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Reimagining the workplace after COVID-19 pandemic

Reimagining the workplace after COVID-19 pandemic

A lot has been said about Coronavirus, but what should stay with us is something that author Bert McCoy said, “The Coronavirus is forcing us to work together as human beings.”

Coronavirus changed the way we think, we live, we study, and we work. It has questioned our intelligence, both intellectually and emotionally, and thrown challenges which are unprecedented and complicated.

Corona clearly intensified the speed at which companies were adopting technology for remote working. Technology was a saviour and digitization ensured that work continues seamlessly, productivity is in check and the outcome is not affected.

Businesses survived, some even made big profits by aligning their organisation goals with workforce being safe, connected, productive, and trained. Intel former CEO Bob Swan summed it well, “We are witnessing what will surely be remembered as a historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across every domain, including medicine, education, government, entertainment and more.”

As humankind is evolving against the virus by inventing and administering vaccination and increasing spends and efforts on medical research, a big challenge is looking at the corporate world, which is already limping back to work.

Let us accept that till the entire workforce is vaccinated, the office experience will remain uncomfortable with protocols like masks, social distancing, and restricted movement.  In addition, many employees who could work from their couch and save time from endless commute, water cooler conversations, and endless meetings, would argue that working from home is a more productive arrangement.

So, will corporates extend work from home for people who can (based on their job roles) and who are willing, or will they look at it as a threat to the hyped ‘corporate culture’? What about mental wellbeing of the employees with such arrangement?

Some of the HR challenges that we can already foresee are, performance tracking, talent development, reconstructing processes, and aligning leadership to the change. On how companies should set priorities and manage workplaces, Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America said, “The number one thing to focus on is employees and customers. Keep them well, keep them employed and keep them mentally healthy.”

In the coming days, management has a tough task at hand, and that is to revisit the business model and processes to define how each of them can be remodelled to be resilient to such pandemics. At the same time, they need to ensure the employees do not operate in isolation and continue to work collaboratively in a re-defined workplace spanning across real and virtual world, located centrally and remotely.

For example, hybrid way of working can ensure employee safety and productivity. By providing wider reach and flexibility, this has the potential to even improve the gender equality by increasing wider participation from stay-at-home mothers.

Corporate world needs to establish faith in the power of business ingenuity, especially during periods of crisis, look at creating resilient ventures and business continuity plans, and address and restructure real human need to stay well and constantly reinvent.  

We will need to go by what Kevin O’Leary, Entrepreneur and co-star of Shark Tank said, “The key is to keep the DNA of the business intact so that when we come back out of this incredible, unique situation, we have all the building blocks we started with before to spring right back into business.”