By | Editor
The pandemic has left all of us in a quandary. Some see it as an opportunity, while many others see it as a calamity. It has thrown up many possibilities for people to work and add value to stake holders. Various reports from McKinsey, Stanford and others have reported that, productivity has actually gone up working remotely. It need not necessarily be from home. I know many people who are working from vacation. This also threatens to remove geographical barriers. Why should it be working any where from India only, it could be work from any where in the world. So trans-country / multinational workforce becomes an even bigger potent workforce.
The concept of offshoring, outsourcing etc will undergo a sea change. Organisations used to outsource their work to Indian organisations, who in turn would pack employees into offices and provide support services to the US organisations. Now organisations may as well hire employees directly from any where in the world. Many organisations are engaging people thro Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer and other platforms for various product development and services. The profile of the workforce will undergo a dramatic change. The share of GIG workers in an organization will increase many folds.
The concept of work from home used to be the privilege of a few Tech companies in the past, but now has become almost a norm in every organization. It has ensured business continuity and offered flexibility to employees. The last 15 months has shown that just about most work can be done away from work (work from home). However it has been a honey moon period. Will it last, only time will tell.
Many employees and especially women are finding it increasingly hard to work from home. In the past, they would walk out of home and be in peace with home chores for 10-12 hours. They didn’t have to clean the house, cook the food, wash the dishes, take care of children, tend to parents and still work all simultaneously. Most of them didn’t have large houses or infrastructure to maintain privacy for husband, wife, children and parents (in some cases). Off course the pandemic has forced Men to rise to the occasion and share house work but at least in India the lion share of it still ends up with women. Many women are rearing to get their cooks, maids and nannies back and pack off to office.
Many organisations are planning to open up their office and requesting employees to come and work from office from September in a staggered manner. There are reports and study, where 40% of employees surveyed, have threatened to quit or rather prefer to quit, if they are compelled to work from Office. But many other employees have complained of home fatigue and are clamoring for social interactions. Let’s remember humans are a social animal and hence the socialization part of life that went missing in the past 15 months due to the pandemic, will make an appearance in a big way no sooner.
Employees are missing their coffee chats, luncheon interactions, bus rides, office parties, team outings, gossips at the workplace and fun at work. Many are missing the comforts and the ambience of their office and work stations. However hard we may try or how much ever technology advances in creating a virtual office it can never replicate the real workspace.
There may be some resistances to start with, but sooner than later, most employees would want to come back to office and work physically.
But what needs to change is the regimental rules that dictates the office timings, the days of work, etc. Employees are seeking autonomy, freedom to choose, where and when to work and not exactly work from the confines of home.
The pandemic has reaffirmed that most employees are dependable and trust worthy. You don’t need a supervisor physically monitoring you under his visual supervision. People can still deliver and be as productive or even better working remotely without any supervision. The Trust factor has increased immensely.
There may be days when one is not feeling too well or 100% fit and may want to stay back at home and work from home. May be there is a sick person to tend to, or a guest at home or children having holiday, or a party in the evening and need to prepare for it. This flexible working arrangement will help employees to manage all of that. Yes from an organization perspective there may be days like team meetings, monthly review meetings, townhall, customer visits and other important activities that will be better served through physical interaction and may dictate that employees are physically present in office.
Organisations and employees would well be advised to adopt a flexible working arrangement. We are in a honeymoon period. Further experimentation will continue and over the next 3-4 quarters things will settle down depending upon the type of business and the nature of work one is into. A broad brush cannot be enforced across organisations.
The future looks eerie as well as exciting…..
Here is a very interesting panel discussion on Future of Work organized by Bangalore International Centre. A good session and very well articulated by Krish Shankar , Group Head-HRD Infosys, Indraneel Bannerjee, Partner, McKinsey & Company, India, and Ajay Vij, MD, Geographic Services, Accenture India and well coordinated by Anjali Varma, HR Consultant.
The discussions revolve around these questions –
- How will companies transform their people policies and practices and enable collaboration when employees are on two parallel tracks?
- How will this affect office design, workforce dynamics and the nature of work itself?
- Is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to usher in changes that will lead to a more balanced, diverse, inclusive and empathetic culture?
And can it ever be Business as Usual ?