The coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic has affected every workplace in the country in one way or another. As governments make significant interventions in response to the coronavirus, businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of their people, their customers, and suppliers. Some employers have closed their doors temporarily—and some permanently. Others have asked their employees to work from home, or given extra paid or unpaid leave to employees with health concerns or childcare responsibilities.
While the worst of the coronavirus outbreak will (hopefully) be over soon, some of these changes to the workplace could be here to stay. Here are a few ways the post-COVID workplace might be different from what came before.
Increased Remote Workplaces
In the age of digitalization, it is paramount to collaborate remotely from anywhere at any time. The forced quarantines in many regions will lead to behavioral changes and result in higher adoption of remote working tools in the long term. Companies are encouraging employees to switch to virtual meetings using solutions such as video conferencing and teleworking. In order to continue meetings without disruptions, several companies are exploring technologies such as Zoom, BYOM, or Bring Your Own Meeting.
“WFH is poised to become an increasingly acceptable norm as we have seen in many countries,” says Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, chairman, Cognizant India. “Any company that would have shied away from it earlier, would not have a problem now with the IT infrastructure being put in place,” said Azfar Hussain, group head – organization & talent development at diversified conglomerate RPG.
Although working remotely is now widely seen as a temporary measure, experts say it’s more likely to become the norm. HR heads feel it as a win-win solution helping employees save on commute time and cos to cut establishment cost, raising productivity. HR heads also say arrangements such as hot-desking will become more common, bringing down establishment costs.
Mandatory Special Leave Policy
According to the study, only 21% of countries are providing sick leave for all or some employees. Post COVID-19 and the situation returns to normal soon, corporates and startups alike will adopt mandatory sick/special leave policies maybe covering even minute and common health problems such as flu and fever, which are highly ignored in India especially in the small and midsize business (SMB) segment.
Currently top Indian companies are closing ranks to protect their employees in the fight against COVID-19 by introducing special provisions in company policies to assure quarantining staff that their isolation period will not affect their take-home salaries. The companies like Tata Steel, RPG Enterprises, and Swiggy have tweaked their leave policy to include a “special leave” provision for any employee who might need to self-quarantine or stay away from the office due to perceived Coronavirus exposure.
Overall adoption of such “special leave” provisions will result in a healthy and clean work environment throughout businesses across the country.
Fast-Tracking Digital Workplaces
COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to our daily lives. In response to travel bans, school closures, and recommendations to not gather in large groups and keep our distance from fellow humans to limit the spread of the virus, many people turned to digital tools to keep some semblance of normality.
This pandemic has triggered an unprecedented demand for workplace digital technology solutions. Companies are exploring advanced technologies, operating in new ways as never before. With a modern Digital Workplace, businesses can rapidly engage their workforce with up-to-date information, give them access to business-critical data, documents and information, gather intelligence on the ground to determine if localized action is necessary, and push geographically relevant content to affected parts of the business. A timely response can mean the difference between failure and success in any crisis.
The adoption of enterprise tech products are likely to increase and give an impetus to enterprise tech startups in India. These companies originally relied heavily on foreign clients, given the popularity of the traditional style of running businesses – which involved regular meetings in person – in the country.
Workplace Hygiene & Safety will be Supreme
The topmost priority for any business should be to protect the health and safety of the workforce. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance and urges employers to adhere to the General Duty Clause, which requires employers to “furnish to each of his employee’s employment and a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
In his blog, Josh Bersin has expressed a few concerns, do people shake hands anymore? What are the new policies for vacation? When people come to the office for work where do they sit or stand? Should some employees receive hazard pay? (IBM is considering this, as is UHG), said
Companies need to reassure employees that we are sanitizing surfaces, encouraging hand washing, and maintaining an appropriate level of social distancing. Companies may want to consider staggering work schedules to allow greater amounts of individual space and to ensure procedures are in place for proper cleaning of floors and workspaces.
Re-engagements with Teammates
Nothing is more significant in creating bonds between teammates than a common enemy, and the coronavirus the struggle is a perfect example of what will strengthen relationships. These are very tough times and when we come out on the other side—having gone through it together—we will have new levels of connection with our colleagues.
You’ll be excited to see people you missed during your furlough or work-from-home period. And you’ll share a lasting bond with teammates with whom you’ve worked to solve problems and act proactively during these difficult times. Work is fundamentally social—and today, and in the future, co-workers will occupy an even more important place in our work experience.
To conclude, the workplace will change once this pandemic is over and the world goes back to normal is yet to be seen. But it’s likely that the new normal will include the above trends and a shift in the virtual workplace.
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