“Never let a good crisis go to waste” – Winston Churchill
The last few weeks have been surreal. It has been over 8 weeks since the lockdown and I witnessed something historic – almost the entire workforce working out of our best-in-class campuses have seamlessly moved to their own backyard and continued to be purposeful and productive. Personally, I’m still slowly adjusting to working from home, still trying to get the hang of it as my house is not equipped for two people to work from home together. Often, my spouse and I feature in each other’s work calls in the background. This is the New Normal for us.
The other day I was facing login issues. Normally, I would have called in our expert in-house support to help me get connected. However, with this option unavailable, I logged onto our in-house mobile app for a two-step solution, done in 2 minutes. The power of digitization and self-service – surely, a new normal for me.
“We are still in the early stages of this crisis. It is difficult to foresee what the world will be like on the other side of it. But we can already see some transformation.”
Our usage of the internet has seen a dramatic surge, whether for more video calls or to purchase essentials, to watching Netflix, online workouts, and video recipes. One thing for sure is, we have tested global digital capability and it has held on fine. This crisis has also created a moment of truth for every company. Alan Kay beautifully said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. I guess this crisis has given organizations that window to slow down, humanize the issue, and invent new realities.
If we look at it from the lens of the ‘future of work’ framework, the future might drastically transform under all three paradigms – Work, Workplace, and Workforce. Here are a few things I believe will define our future:
Leadership and Resilience
An organization is like a human being with many moving parts. An organization of the future will make Resilience the metric to gauge the success of all its moving parts – not just to stay afloat, but to exemplify new possibilities. And leaders, true leaders, will be in the driver’s seat. Leaders, who can drive transformations, communicate effectively, be agile and empower their teams, and build and lead a culture of trust and resilience. A war-time leader for this extraordinary situation will need two characteristics – One, to lead the organization through the current battle by driving the team and operations efficiently and Two, create new possibilities for the organization.
Remote Working, Flexibility, and Confidentiality
People and organizations are embracing remote working like never before. Work might not be a physical space anymore, but an indication of value created irrespective of the shelter. There will be an increasing focus on productivity and clear outcomes. We might see more flexibility in how we use energy and fuel, policies, and processes. Clients will trust organizations that can safely keep their data and maintain governance of confidentiality. Organizations will ensure more ways to safeguard client trust and data.
Experience has three dimensions – Physical, Emotional, and Digital. This crisis has paved the way for digital experience to take the wheel. Employees expect their experiences to be similar to what they have outside work and Organizations will need to work hard to bridge this divide. It is crucial to remember that you have to start with employee experience and work back towards technology, not the other way around! Digital learning is another critical element that enterprises will encourage and imbibe the culture of life-long learning. Reskilling and Repurposing will be the order of the day and good enablers will go a long way in making this happen. It’s also a time to bring back relentless focus on health and wellness providing emotional support to employees and their loved ones. In the future workplaces will look different with renewed practices and possibly sanitization becoming the new security!
Work life Integration
The lines between personal life and professional life are blurring, with greater integration between the two. With work from home becoming more prominent, people are bringing their whole selves to work. Now, it won’t be surprised if employees spend their Wednesday afternoons watching Money Heist or finish a good workout while coming up with their best ideas to drive your business over the weekend. Organizations should strive hard to integrate employees’ 9-5 with their 5-9.
Going by what we have seen over the last month, collaboration is no longer a nice-to-have ingredient for success but a necessary business imperative. Today, new age collaboration tools are shortening the distance for employees, clients, and partners to engage and network. Collaboration and co-creation, aided by technology, will change the way we think, behave, and, most certainly, the way we work. We might see changing work structures with smaller, distributed agile teams and networks that come together to ideate and solve a business problem.
In times like these, communication is the key to stay connected and bring people closer. With the changing realms of the workplace, organizations will strive to communicate relentlessly, and personalization will be the key. Organizations must engage in dialogue and will incorporate different voices –clients speak, employee perspectives, and larger purpose.
These are interesting times – once-in-a-lifetime moment for most. As people champions, we also need to create the HR of the future to navigate uncertainty. An AEIOU framework is a good starting point. HRs will have to be Ambidextrous – using technology and human touch, focus on people, process, and the old and the new while designing workplace experiences. Empathy will be the core to all that we do to stay relevant. HRs will have to be Influencers for and of the people — a network of people who are the voice bridging the gap and integrating the eco-system. With evolving business paradigms, HRs will drive business Outcomes and not have siloed people goals. For this, it is important for us to understand the business like the business Understands business. We must be problem-finders rather than just problem-solvers.
As I close this, the onus will be on each one of us to ‘Take charge’! Treat this lockdown like a boot camp – pushing ourselves in new directions, opening up newer endeavors, skills & learnings, and readying for the future. And when this is over, we will be halfway there. Like they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”
Disclaimer – The article draws on various sources of inspiration and data from the public realm. All views in the article are personal.