How often have you wondered if you could take a pause and change possibly everything around you to start afresh? Call it our luck or God’s belief in the ability of humans to create a better tomorrow that the ‘reset’ button turned active while the pandemic swept the world in the last one and half years.
As the world gradually learns to live with the constant lurking threat of the pandemic, it is time that we use this rare opportunity to the best of our abilities and re-write the theories that we have literally grown up with. Change has always been inevitable; however, this one is a paradigm shift that needs to be dealt with responsibly for the betterment of people, customers and businesses.
For most organizations the obvious way forward is to go bullish on digital, automation, AI and leverage an ecosystem that practically thrives virtually with hardly any human interventions. However, while doing so, we must zoom out for a moment and see the bigger picture to strategize better. In a country like India which commands the second highest population in the world, the penetration of digital is still limited mostly to metropolitan cities leaving a majority of India in digital darkness.
Hence, it is critical to build all digital strategies keeping tier 2-3 cities at the core of them. In our quest to take digital leadership we must not forget that the pandemic has left a deep scar on the employment landscape which is in dire need to be covered with an amalgamation of digital and human interventions wherever possible. In fact, the same theory applies while creating delight for customers as well who are still keen on interacting with humans instead of chat bots before making their purchase decisions. In the oldest civilization on earth that has a deep rooted culture driven by inter personal connections, we are still far away from being completely digital ready which should be factored in while creating the blueprint of the future.
A bigger change is needed at the workplaces, where the dynamics have changed manifolds during the pandemic. While it was fairly difficult to transition to a 100% Work from Home culture overnight for most organizations, the transition to the hybrid ways of working is proving to be far more difficult than imagined. At the helm of managing this transition are human resource professionals who have the rare opportunity to move beyond the textbook ways of people management.
Undoubtedly, it needs a complete overhaul of the existing policies, but what we must not forget is that in an evolving environment nothing can be treated as constant. Therefore, swift revision of new policies is very important to match up to the changing scenarios while maintaining people centricity as the central thought. Knowing the employee pulse will be the key to create or revise policies for which regular surveys, town halls, leadership connections are extremely important.
Employee safety and well-being will continue to hold the top of mind space and the inclination of workplace culture transformation would be towards empathy and flexibility. Though the challenge of overcoming ‘how-much-is-too-much’ is something that the organizations would need to solve for. They will have to rally together to find the sweet spot to maintain the right balance between productivity and not hampering the work life balance of the employees. The collective zeal to grow will be crucial to scale up existing as well as new businesses, hence motivation and monitoring will go hand in hand. If data is considered the new oil of the 21st century, ‘Trust’ will become equivalent to it in the post pandemic world making the relationship between the employer and the employee go through a gradual transition where managing expectations from both ends will be essential.
The sooner we transition from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ mindset, the journey ahead will become more impactful. One of the positive things that the pandemic scare has left this diverse nation with, is to bring everybody at a similar level irrespective of their various socio-economic backgrounds. This effectively means that if the scare looms large for a farmer, the same holds true for a corporate professional as well. Therefore, the expectations on flexibility and mental well-being cannot be higher for a certain group.
As we step into another year amidst the constant threat of COVID-19 in newer variants and the hustle to vaccinate, we will have multiple options to choose from while creating the workplaces of the future. However, the secret sauce to successfully create a safe and productive work environment will lie in how much we can ‘unlearn’ to ‘learn’ and implement further. The ones who are able to decipher the essence of ‘survival of the fittest’ in the current context will emerge as winners in the longer run.