Beyond Remote: The workplace of the future

August 12, 2021 12:30 AM

Hybrid workplaces have arrived with their own set of challenges and opportunities

Chidambaram Ganapathi PortraitChidambaram Ganapathi Portrait

By Chidambaram Ganapathi

The pandemic will pass, but it has set a definitive tone of how work, workforce and workplaces will look like in the new normal. The future is being built not just on enabling hybrid workplaces, but also on developing social capital and forward-thinking leadership. All this backed by timely investments in suitable technologies and practices.

This has meant a redefinition of management practices, laying greater focus on social, emotional and cultural parameters which can make or break the efficacy of the hybrid work models. As enterprises in India scramble to adapt, multiple factors have come into play, dictating the level of adoption, the impact on productivity and business continuity.

The future of workplace
The changeable set-ups of now, cannot be addressed by a standard plug and play solution, as the workplaces of this future do not fit one mold. The hybrid workplaces bridge the chasm between the physical and digital and everything in between. This gives tremendous potential to the workplaces which have become more fluid, shaping themselves organically as per the requirement of the organisation, the project, the employees. Workplaces have become multifunctional and elastic entities allowing minimal occupancy yet enabling maximum collaboration, offering opportunities to expand unhindered by physical limitations. On-prem or remote, the workplaces need to be equipped with tools that offer smooth collaboration, instant feedback, safe space for learning and co-working.

The challenge today for organisations is to be ready for investments in tools that enable this level of collaboration and empower employees to make better decisions, track their progress and ticket resolutions, pin-point bottlenecks and design solutions, with minimum time spent on unproductive work like information gathering. Workplaces are transforming into synergy hubs rather than just places to work, resulting in the movement from WFH to office as a calculated step, as opposed to going to work for the sake of it.

The digital transformation of the workplace has rendered the world flat. A black and white on-shore and off-shore model is almost redundant. With proper connectivity, the whole workforce can act as local talent. This also means greater opportunity for skill enhancement and employment for those in rural areas.

Technology play
In 2020 India emerged as the second largest Internet user. For the first time, rural India has more internet users than urban. A report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielson states there are about 227 million active internet users in rural India, which is 10% more than the 205 million of urban India. This ecosystem can be leveraged to enhance mobility among workforces and 5G could be the disruptive play in the horizon.

The Digital India
The Digital India campaign has created a vision for a truly digital country, enabling online businesses, and empowering people’s lives, and creating an environment conducive for startups. India has witnessed an eruption in the startups space, inventive solution providers, and service aggregators.

The pay-off of the digital movement in India has spilled over from its people to its workplaces. The acceptance of all-things-mobile, propelled by the pandemic has, catalysed mushrooming of start-ups, highly skilled freelancers, gig-economy and collaborative co-working spaces. Crux of this movement being that the future of workplace in India is here and now.

The writer is associate VP and delivery head, Digital Workplace Services, Infosys

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