Workplace norms after Covid-19 outbreak: Preparing for the new normal

Published: May 28, 2020 1:00 AM

The need of the hour is to rethink organisational transformation, ensure the safety of our employees and re-align operations to help our customers

Prakash Mallya, IntelPrakash Mallya, Intel

By Prakash Mallya

As the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, a multitude of transformations are sweeping through the global economy. At this time, the Indian IT industry has stepped up to the challenge in helping other sectors maintain business continuity and in serving the critical technology needs of global organisations. As a result, the IT industry has morphed from being a support system into a key enabler, ushering in a new era of digital transformation across industries.

One of the biggest consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the workplace transition to the home front. Large-scale work from home (WFH) arrangements have led companies to radically re-think traditional work arrangements. From shifting mission-critical tech assets to delivering risk mitigation solutions and enabling virtual learning, the tech workforce has been on the frontline to address varied WFH challenges to support a successful digital transformation. The rapid adoption of remote collaboration by companies has opened a window of opportunity for accelerating workplace transformation and digitally-enabled environments. And many businesses are indeed taking this opportunity to use physical and virtual collaboration tools to test a blended work environment.

With a dispersed workforce collaborating remotely, it is important for organisations to consider developing best practices with scalability across locations. There is a need to quickly redesign formal processes to accelerate response. This could include exceptions to procurement processes, enabling virtual on-boarding and off-boarding of employees, repurposing of devices and adding new capabilities to support remote working for greater collaboration.

‘People-First’ as priority
To successfully navigate the new normal of the workplace, organisations need to approach WFH very differently in the present context. The business continuity strategy has to be reframed to shift focus from business-first to people-first, that is, be employee-focused and client-centric in operations. An important task that we have at hand is to ensure that our workforce is reskilled and relevant for the times ahead. With remote work environments becoming the new norm, organisations need to ensure continuous training and learning programmes for employees – MOOC training, AI learning courses, among others.

There is a need to create an enabling ecosystem around the workforce to facilitate collaboration. An empathetic leadership and strong communication can go a long way in building resilience during extraordinary situations. Technology can be our greatest ally in modelling solutions for boosting morale and engagement levels and fostering better productivity. Besides offering Learning and Development (L&D) initiatives, companies can consider different formats and technologies for providing assistance with healthcare support (doctor on call, fitness sessions), stress management (counselling and meditation) and social connections (virtual coffee meets).

Rethinking the future of work
This is an opportunity for the IT industry to evaluate new ways of responding to the ongoing situation and preparing for the future. Accelerated adoption of technology will help companies in remaining connected with their customers, employees and the larger business ecosystem in these trying times.

The writer is VP & MD, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India

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