How Coronavirus Has Spawned New Adaptive Ways of Working For The Future
More than half of the world’s population is under lockdown to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), a public health emergency that has already claimed thousands of lives and sparked fears of a global recession. This has not only had a profound impact on our mental and physical well-being but also on our world of work.
While nobody would choose to go through this situation, several experts including social scientists, management professors, and psychologists are keenly investigating the effects of this enforced global experiment, as this would have long-lasting effects on us.
Here are some early markers on how this is changing employee culture for the future:
In the workplace scenario, this could mean redesigning jobs, making them more meaningful, building cultures of creativity, and collaboration, while keeping the organisations productive despite alternative approaches.
1. No more the 9am-5pm job:
Work from home has altered how we use our time. The goal is to deliver on targets and not focus on doing it during specified office hours. This works because all team members understand that we are juggling multiple roles at home and work. In the near future we may not return to an office with 100% attendance and work from home as a way of life will be more popular, which means timings will become more flexible in future.
2. Working from anywhere:
Today we are blessed to have technology that bridges the gap of no contact. We have experienced the success of this more now than ever. We can work from anywhere virtually and make things happen, and meet our goals and targets. This is one of the more practical learnings that we can carry forward into the future workplace.
3. Focusing on output rather than input:
In a traditional work scenario, it was so common to be seen as working rather than working. Any team member who left at 5pm or 6pm on the dot when the official office timings were over was seen as not working hard enough. Now the focus is changing. In the post-Coronavirus world, the focus will be more on the output an employee delivers than the way they do the work. This is definitely going to make our teams more productive in future, as work will be better acknowledged.
4. Creating your own goalposts:
This was already common in the millennial world – most employees are looking to gain personally, and meet their own targets rather than conforming to a structural career path of climbing the corporate ladder. This new situation has made people more open to trying out new things, doing things differently and taking a chance. After all, nothing is written on stone, and each employee can create their own personal milestones.
5. More customised work rather than pre-defined work:
The current Coronavirus scenario has taught us that work and life can change in a jiffy and we must all be prepared to move along, just like the river bends to avoid being stuck. The situation has taught people to be more versatile and wear several hats, and the idea that every role has fixed boundaries will become a thing of the past. The future of the workplace will mean more collaboration between teams and more fluid work roles rather than defined roles.
6. More open communication structure:
Maybe 10 or 20 years ago, most companies believed in closed-door meetings, and sharing information in a more limited or watered down fashion to all employees in the company. However, the situation is changing, the workplace has already been becoming more flat and an open communication structure will lead to transparency and more collaborative ways of functioning. The Coronavirus has made it an even more compelling case as ideas can come from anywhere, and the common goal is to meet the company targets.
7. Using different collaborative software beyond email:
Traditionally, email was the primary mode of communication in corporations over the last 20 years or so. However, now, there are so many collaborative software that can be adopted to make work easy and also reduce the communication gap. No IT team had to teach us how to use them either. Everyone learned on their own and needless to say it has made things generally more efficient. During the Coronavirus lockdown, we have all become more familiar with several of these collaborative softwares that companies are ready to try out for better efficiency.
8. More leaders are born:
It is only in a true crisis that people’s real skills are put to test. Are your team members able to cope with quick changes? Do they take charge? Who takes responsibility and ownership? Who delivers despite not having perfect systems in place? Who creates effective functional workflows? Who collaborates best? All these qualities can help you identify team members for future leadership roles.
9. Focusing on adaptive learning rather than traditional knowledge sharing and forums:
In the pre-Coronavirus world, companies had knowledge portals, knowledge sharing groups, and interactive training modules. The Coronavirus situation has made a strong case for adaptive learning. Several employees have used this time to upgrade and upskill, and are using online learning platforms to do so. In future, several collaborations can be forged to keep this format going. This is also leading to a more democratised way of learning and teaching, rather than top-down. Anybody can be a teacher and anybody can be a student, as long as the goal is learning.
10. Rise of new HR practices
When the workforce will not work at a fixed time, not at a fixed location, maybe not even in fixed teams, how then will the old rule book stay relevant? Every aspect of the employee lifecycle will transform and technology may take over operational HR role. HR will evolve into a new avatar where the primary focus will be to develop new effective ways to ensure performance management and employee engagement. In the coming week, we will write more about the skills and roles that HR will play in the post-Coronavirus world.
While the workspace may have slowly evolved into these scenarios anyway, the Coronavirus has posed a huge curveball, and work processes, the work environment and even employee routines have had to make a very sudden shift.
The Coronavirus has effectively become a tipping point for remote working. While several industries like tech were already using state-of-the-art tools, including video conferencing, social messaging and cloud file sharing, the current situation has made this the new normal for every industry virtually changing the dynamics of work forever.
What this experience is ultimately teaching us is to deal with disruption in the most efficient way, and the ones who can be more adaptive will be the ones who make it through safely to the end.
At Yellow Spark, we help companies navigate efficiently through change management. To know more please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.