Does an event such as COVID impact business operations in the long term, or let me rephrase it, does such an event force long term operational change? The question is not only thoughtful but extremely relevant since one needs to understand the overall repercussions of such a change. Whether we see long term changes, or a gradual shift to a certain kind of operations or a more mixed bag, what is evident that short term changes are already being implemented.
We have to respond quickly, recover fast and reinvent our processes. Looking back at civilizations and how the animal world worked during such situations- We have to adapt and mold according to the new conditions.
The Era of Uncertainty, scary as it seems, things have gone more uncertain than ever before. We cant just sit back and wait for things to happen, neither can we act and be sure of a planned output. We have to calculate the risks in each such decision making; the quotient of risk has increased multiple folds. Our standard indexes wouldn’t work, we have to come up with new indices, new ratios and reasonable percentages, yet we have to work with People, yet we have to grow and the cycle has to continue.
What are the factors that are determining change?
- Contactless Environment
- Labor Migration into Tier 2,3 cities
- Travel restrictions and fear
- Family Wellbeing, both thyself and elders
Industries may react differently, from situation to situation, and while this post is not around finding individual sector changes, we certainly will look for blanket changes.
- To constrain every single person to report to office every single day, rather than opt for a Hybrid Work environment.
- Talent market will dramatically change. Hiring diverse candidates, from far away locations, kicking in the Gig-economy.
- Empathy and Wellness, leaders will have to learn to be empathetic to employees and the emotional quotient. Hire more women leaders.
- Transition to an Online work Environment. Data security, Client Infrastructure, Protocols and much more. Move to Cloud- Cloud Adoption is a must.
- Digital Transformation was happening, however this change will require from transforming in 6 months than in 18 months. Rapid Digitalization
While there are hordes of other changes that the above demands, the speed at which these changes are required, sure created innumerous opportunities as well as challenges for the industry.
The new mantra- ‘FIGHT, RISE, THRIVE’
The current global crisis will lead to some fundamental changes in the way businesses operate, some short-term others long-term. Few are explained below:
A. One of those changes quite literally and more significant will be the Virtual Workplace
Technology will drive the change, most interestingly to make it a versatile and a diligent system so not to allow another such event disrupt the way it has impacted businesses globally. To add to that, leadership has already started realizing the perks of a Work-from-Home environment, that which will take center stage in being a key adoption for the large and small. Managers and project owners would look to get work done, and with the already available digitally connected workforce may even look out for gig workers, contractual employees, with the flourishing of potent technology solutions that would enable productivity.
B. Cost of Infrastructure, will dramatically reduce with the focus on improved productivity
Organizations focus wouldn’t be infrastructure to support Onsite work, instead would rest on the Digital Infrastructure, from Software’s to Hardware’s, the shift will move to cater to the virtual infrastructure, that too in people’s homes. Whether the same will be the New Normal, is still to be delved with however the certainty of a Hybrid environment will emerge with the right mix of use of space at expensive office and the hardware and software infrastructure at home work environments.
Tools that can engage with employees and customers, virtual sessions, cloud software’s, will drive the manner in which businesses will operate with limited need for touch.
C. The Psychological Shift or the Human touch to Virtualization
As employees and their kids were both constrained to remain home, there was a drastic shift to use of technology. Even those organisations where usually work happened sans a PC, adopted technology and adapted to the digital way to work. Virtual conferencing, Digital collaboration tools flooded the market. With their CSR initiatives, the subscription costs were waived off, and that led to mass adoption of these tools. A change so sublime, only seen in star wars. Are we seeing decades of technological changes happen in months? The change has brought about a psychological shift w.r.t. outlook of usage of technology. We don’t have a choice, but to accept this Virtual Work Environment.
D. Alternative forms of Talent, will allow for diversity
With the evolution of new tools and technology, upskilling and Re-skilling is the need of the hour. Skills like being a team player will be replaced by skills like being an Autonomous worker. The demand of tools for collaboration has also opened up new avenues for R&D of such futuristic tools. Considering this, the skills profile of organisations has a scope for expanding, thus fostering diversity. Also, with the advent of the digital workplace, the constraints around Geographical boundaries & work timings will be loosened a little. You can hire employees 500 miles away from home, with skillsets required to support the new avenues. This in turn will foster diversity.
To summarize, for businesses, big and small, change in the people management space is inevitable. Though the change is forced, it has opened up avenues for reinventing and redesigning the business processes and best practices. The choice is with the businesses, resisting change and digging your way to a grave, or grabbing opportunities and setting on the journey of long-term operational change and ultimately, to success.