Amidst industrial revolution 4.0, SMAC, an acronym for Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud alongside Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning, Augmented Reality (AR), and Chatbots were already disrupting the way we conduct our business and presented the industry with exciting possibilities of growth that is non-linear and also an opportunity to play a critical role in reshaping the market and workforce landscape.
“While the industry was grappling and coming to terms with technological disruptions revolutionizing the global economic firmament and planning their strategies to leapfrog, the pandemic has created a unique challenge that is unpredictable and the highly complex accelerating pace of digital shift and taking it to a new stratosphere.”
In a fast-evolving business landscape where digital is at the centre and efficiency is no more luxury, with an increasing demand to provide Japanese quality at Chinese price – it is imperative for HR Leaders to think and help Global CEOs deal with the Human Capital Challenges amidst disruptions caused by pandemic by visualizing the shape of the future workforce and its dynamics, shifting operating models in the business un-usual scenario where human will co-exists with bots and robots, developing a diverse and accountable leadership pool, keeping a step ahead of a paradigm shift in engagement practices for the 21st-century workforce while aligning the business demand to the ever-evolving workforce needs and striking a balance in a manner that they manage to retain knowledge and contribution which requires agility & constant revisiting of HR strategy & its impact. How employers conduct their business and treat their employees during this crisis, is going to impact their brand perception for years to come.
In a scenario where conventional thinking and best practices have lost their significance and there is a new normal that is being shaped by pandemic putting worldwide economies & various sectors such as aviation, tourism, hospitality in acute crisis. I see the emergence of the following top trends:
Structural Shift in Future of Work & Workplace Models
Future of work & workplace models go through a structural shift and transforms at a gigantic pace that was hitherto unimaginable. For companies across the world and across industries, conventional workplace norms will undergo mammoth disruption – The way we work will fundamentally change. While some companies were already toying with the idea of work from home and working remotely and some were clearly ahead in the game, now the work from home and working remotely will no longer be a luxury but an unavoidable necessity where employers will need to ensure they provide requisite tools to employees to be productive in a safe and secure environment.
- Virtualization of the workplace is going to be a new norm and organizations which facilitate this faster will be ahead in the game.
- Replicating the physical element into virtual for driving collaboration and engagement will test HR leadership mettle who will need to come up with strategies and work practices that were hitherto had no precedence as workplace boundaries will blur. Helping employees successfully navigate the complexities of new normal, building new ways of communication, ensuring boundaries, discipline, coaching and mentoring mechanisms, feedback channels, etc while keeping the workforce engaged and motivated will be a key challenge.
The concept of open office that served the objective of improving collaborations amongst employee groups will no longer be valid in the pandemic world. Some of the questions that will echo include – Will organisations redesign their office space? Forget re-designing, would they need offices?
As the future of workplace and work practices undergo a major shift, this also offers industry with an excellent opportunity to leverage untapped potential of employees and also optimise costs and enhance productivity.
Monumental Shift in Conventional Education & Learning Landscape
A paradigm shift in Learning Dynamics at workplaces and in Education Industry is imminent as pandemic provides an opportunity to re-examine the architecture & eco-system of education in India where EdTech is taking a centre stage and revolutionizing the whole learning landscape. We will need to re-skill people for new kinds of jobs. The educational institution needs to relook and redefine its curriculum and its delivery mechanisms while ensuring that engagement levels remain high. Re-inventing delivery mechanism is going to play a critical role in making both organizations & education institutions to meet the industry demand that would necessitate up-skilling and re-skilling of a large segment of the workforce across industries.
Gig Economy Skyrocket Amidst Job Losses
As pandemic delivers a body blow to industries and make many companies unprofitable, terminations and layoffs will be commonplace. The traditional economy of full-time workers who more often than not focus on a life-time career with an organisation will get a rude shock amidst closing down of various companies.
This will present the working population an opportunity to choose and deliver projects around the world as a result of de-coupling of job & location. The adoption of Gig would get fast-tracked as it brings unique value proposition both for organisation as well as the employee. While for Gig workers, work-life balance will improve significantly, the cost for an employer will also decrease as they will pay for the project and no longer need to hire an employee on their payroll.
The laws governing the Gig economy are at the nascent stage of development specifically in the developing world and I believe that the shift in the world of work due to pandemic will force governments across the world to optimise, build rules that govern the gig economy. (Views expressed are personal)