Workplaces after Covid-19: Thinking beyond tradition

The stop-gap measure of working from home adopted during the pandemic has now evolved into a new business paradigm.

Workplaces after Covid-19: Thinking beyond tradition
Moving into the post-pandemic era, the idea of a new normal workspace is reimagined as a hub of innovation & social interaction.

By Lynette D’Silva

The last two years have had an impact on the future of work. We experienced rapid disruption to rapid adaptation, and many a time, conjecture became a reality. The long-held assumptions of how, where and when work happens got challenged. We now need to reimagine work and workplaces. It’s imperative for leaders to evaluate, strategize, & respond to the paradigm shifts in employee expectations. While crafting creative solutions, it is also essential to zoom in and zoom out on the immediate and long-term impact of those on the employee experience & the organisation. An understanding of the important trends and the nuances will help shape the future of workplace. 

Work flexibility becomes mainstream

The stopgap measure of working from home adopted during the pandemic has now evolved into a new business paradigm. Some are still enjoying it and others are feeling fatigued. The conventional wisdom of having an office space in a prime location was critical to winning the talent war. Additionally, a workplace with recreational activity centers, productive working hours, team meetings, and coffee corners, enabled water cooler conversations that were a must to have. Moving into the post-pandemic era, the idea of a new normal workspace is reimagined as a hub of innovation & social interaction, break-out spaces, a space to collaborate by design and flex-spaces. As organisations ramp up return to office planning, organisations are defining their unique purpose-driven hybrid model, which is grounded in flexibility, well-being & inclusion. 

Well-being is a key metric

The emotional turmoil experienced by people during the Covid-19 crisis cannot be forgotten. Empathy was the only driver for businesses to continue working amid distress. Both employers and employees deeply recognize the value of prioritizing health and maintaining a work-life balance. Mental wellness is an integral component of organisational initiatives and behaviors. Employers are shifting their focus from health care programs to holistic well-being. It is now an organisational value that integrates into the cultural fabric across the organisation. The well-being agenda takes the front seat in the broader business & organisational objectives. 

Changing the learning landscape

The landscape of learning transformed dramatically in the new normal. While organisations realize the need to build a resilient, emotionally intelligent, and empathetic workforce, the learning strategy is now crafted in a way that enables organic learning in the flow of the work. The ever-changing business scenarios and the dynamic disruptions pushed organisations to develop capability building initiatives.  Reskilling and upskilling have become imperative as emerging trends. Leaders play a crucial role in engaging with the workforce to create an environment where employees can learn and grow within the organisation. Skills taxonomy helps leaders to be intentional and be better aligned to close skill gaps and thus provide a career path to their team members. It also helps to quickly shift gears and be agile. 

The new life cycle of an employee 

Some new workforce trends were created during the pandemic whereas others were intensified. It gave employees an opportunity to reflect and recalibrate personal and professional priorities. It is thus important for HR leaders to redesign & reinvent HR strategies that focus on leveraging the critical touchpoints across each phase of the employee lifecycle. It will help to support business leaders to meet the new set of organisational needs. 

  1. Cultivate a positive experience for potential candidates
  2. Embrace geographically dispersed talent pools
  3. Establishing a people-centric organisation culture is a top priority
  4. Role of the Manager is changing. Managers need to be intentional and authentic in shaping positive employee experience and a sense of belonging
  5. Leverage workforce analytics and amalgamate human behavior to make decisions 

What lies ahead? 

Although the pandemic brought difficult times upon businesses, many witnessed massive turnarounds and used this as an opportunity to grow. Both businesses and individuals have realigned themselves with the new situation by learning new skills and augmenting their behaviours to operate better. 

Businesses today are street-ready to go beyond the “one-size-fits-all” workplace solution. It would be interesting to see how businesses manage to take advantage of the new opportunities while simultaneously bringing about a ‘better normal’ at the workplace. 

(The author is Head of Regional HR – India & APAC, Amdocs. Views are personal)

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