COVID-19 has led to disruptions in the workplace in unprecedented ways. The post-pandemic era witnessed a growth spurt vis-a-vis workplace challenges and pressures with employees. To survive the challenges became a daunting task. This resulted in low morale and sometimes even exit of employees from their companies. Although the workforce was already undergoing a paradigm shift prior to the pandemic due to the rise of digital, the pandemic further fuelled this disruption with the rise of the contactless economy. The latter coerced almost all kinds of industry to transform into an entirely non-human form of operation. One of the most important skills that people learned and adopted during these trying times was empathy.
Mental wellbeing, practising creative thinking, and having a mindset to accept changes are some of the aspects that have helped workforces to adapt to the present work culture. The workplace of tomorrow, of 2022, will thrive if the workplace adopts the framework for growth, titled GROW. GROW is an acronym based on the tenets that are essential for workplaces to adopt for increasing productivity and therefore profits. These tenets, GROW, are described below.
G - Guide
We all want to own a share of relationships in the mind space. We are colleagues, friends, relatives, cousins, best friends, can’t see each other, etc. The workplace or the office is not just a brand name but has a relationship with its employees too. The relationship is no more just a transactional relationship but can make or break an emotional bond depending on the culture of the workplace. If there is one space that a company should aspire to own, then that should be as a guide. A guide, not a friend, a mentor, who can help their people navigate through the challenges and most importantly help each employee realize his or her potential to the best.
R - respect
The second wave of COVID-19 in 2021 in India taught us one timeless lesson- respect for each and every individual. The suffering, pain, grief was not equal and similarly, people’s reaction to the pandemic was not equal. Some people who were extraordinarily cautious were right in their own way as those who were out and about. There is no ridiculing of each other but just the acceptance of each one’s reaction. Respect for each feeling no matter how deeply anxious or widely free is the mantra of the new living. If an employee chooses to work from home for safety reasons one has to respect those decisions. If workplaces do not give priority to respecting the feelings and empathizing with each individual at a personal level, the talent will leave the organization. Being empathetic is not a trend, but is a norm. Empathy is here to stay.
O - Online
It is a world of contactless economies. Online shopping is just one of the transactions that have taken place in the contactless economy. Online learning, online onboarding of employees, and even online goodbyes. Not just work-related events, even personal, most critical events are being arranged and attended online. With the return of four walls, office workspaces, corporates have to maintain flexibility through online spaces too. One cannot shut off the online world anymore. The need of the hour is not online or offline, but the need of workflows that are seamless with the two platforms. Hybrid workplaces can be achieved through not just tech-enabled productivity but also through companies’ rules and policies.
W - woke in the business
The Economist wrote a few weeks back- “Go woke or go broke: Firms face growing pressures from employees, shareholders and customers to tackle a whole host of social responsibilities- from climate change to diversity and staff wellbeing. We have seen this in the commercials of some leading brands.” Woke- that means alertness to injustice in the society, though started in the rise of antiracism culture in the west, is now becoming mainstream. Woke is general awareness of social responsibility as mentioned by the Economist. Accepting Woke Capital and Woke Consumerism impacts the way we work. It will define the actions that companies can take as socially responsible companies in society. It is getting imperative for businesses to share their purpose and adopt sustainability policies as a part of their growth roadmap.
GROW- Guide, Respect, Online, and Woke are the four pillars of growth that will not only help companies adapt to the tectonic shifts at workplaces but will also enable them to face the change of disruption and lead successfully.