The year 2020 was unprecedented and unpredictable, and nobody thought the pandemic outbreak will confine us to our homes. The world witnessed an inescapable reality named COVID-19 and has turned our outlook upside down on perhaps everything. The lockdown restrictions pushed many companies to finally turn to digitization to ensure business continuity as ‘physicality of processes’ came to a standstill.
The infectiousness of Coronavirus has disrupted value chains, communication, and operations like never before. These disruptions have created fundamental shifts in how businesses will operate in the coming years. Recovery from COVID-19 for the industry needs to be cohesive and futuristic– reimagining a new reality to make it immune to a Black Swan event like this in the future. Whether the processes or people operations, the old traditional working models have become obsolete calling for a new outlook and approach.
Work culture and employee experience is all becoming virtual and digital, offering CIOs to overhaul old ways of working. Organizations need to perhaps revise the current competencies to blur the lines between physical and digital, in office and remote. Currently, digital movement is driving massive change in our lives. The same change needs to be incorporated in organisations to offer hybrid working models. This will unarguably be the biggest technology and workplace trend in 2021.
Global giants like Google and Amazon already announced a hybrid working set up till the end of 2021, quite early as the pandemic outbreak happened. Given the rising cases worldwide, and the growing concern over second and third waves in many regions, almost everyone has followed suit.
Office buildings are vacant, and we are nowhere close to going back. Organizations have built and enabled alternative hybrid models to support the future of work and giving up office space. They have already adopted the hybrid working model that blends both in-office hours and remote work possible. Hybrid allows flexibility to the staff, as they work from home or any other place for their convenience. It also provides flexible hours, and helping employees to prioritize work, and other household and personal chores. It also allows employees more freedom around when and where to work from. For organizations, it calls for a change in workplace policies to allow a flexible, safe, and secure work environment.
A key to hybrid working model relies heavily on digital collaboration, which means digitization of processes and operations. A Global survey by Deloitte, stated that at least 67% companies feel digitalization as urgent or important. Using these tools, will allow the structure to continue with business as usual and flexibility on the other. A survey conducted by EY titled ‘Life in a Pandemic’, showed that over 90% Indians had accepted work from home as the new normal, and over 50% would like to continue to work from home even in the next year. Another survey which was conducted by Cisco’s indicated that how Indian employees want to uphold the positive from remote working, which were increased autonomy, managing well a dispersed team (70%) are two main benefits and faster decision-making. The outcomes are surprising which in turn will lead to a success of these hybrid working models. However, for this to materialize, organizations also need to ensure better technology support for employees to set up their base at home as well as in the office. 73% participants in the Cisco survey affirm that they do not need to be in the same space to collaborate effectively.
The CHROs already have a massive task at hand, with ensuring the integration of best practices and technology to make this comfortable for employees and ensure maximum benefits for the organizations. Concerns over safety, cyber security and personal solutions for specific cases, and other risks will be key issues for the HR, finance, and operations teams to handle and mitigate. In particular, companies need to look at a more strategic approach to security as they settle into a hybrid model.
While organizations manage internal operations, this model would also mean a cohesive strategy on how companies move to support customers and suppliers and to connect a remote workforce with equipment and their services. If this is a long term set up, businesses need to align not just employee but customer relationships and operations to complement the needs of the hybrid working model.
Indian companies, therefore, are on the path to champion digital automation and the coming years will see more traction and innovation. Digitization now needs to be embraced as the new norm of the new Normal – as the way of life. The current times are a new reality, and it is pushing organizations to fully embrace the hybrid working model. With a goal to build agile systems, organizations need a hybrid model to successfully operate in a plug-in set up.
As the workforce becomes more digital, organizations become futuristic and digital, interactive, and experiential. The need for upskilling to the new tools of working will also become critical as the new working environments will demand newer capabilities. The pace of digital delivery continues to increase, and hybrid working models will push digital learning processes to empower their employees while working remotely. This will help in bringing attitudinal shifts and build a future ready workforce, making team open and more adept with new technologies. The key to success of a hybrid model is communication and collaboration, even more so when the entire organization may be operating from numerous locations across the world!
The prevalence of a contactless environment and mandatory social distancing is likely to push demands hybrid models and digitization for proactive, agile, and flexible output in the future. Change is here to stay and is the only way forward for the future. With business no longer as ‘Normal’ as they used to be, organizations are already on the path of reinventing themselves with the benefits of flexible operating models. The hybrid approach will blend physical and digital as long-term solutions for work. With tech dominating the workplace, the future remains is set to be exciting.