Covid 19 has been one of the greatest levelers of our time. It pushed us out of our comfort zone by boxing us in the erstwhile comfort space of our homes. Lines blurred between work and home environment, and work-life balance took a completely new meaning. Workforce which was synonym with office spaces started with work from home and then working from anywhere with visits to hometowns or Work destinations in the form of workations. So much so, that Google search for “workation” saw traction in may and peaked in October and December 2020. Tectonic trends which were catalyzed by Covid are here to stay. As the year draws to a close, let us look at how 3 of these top aspects that effected the Working Professionals the most.
- Work from home / Remote Working : A concept that was tried out by a few in the pre – pandemic days was established as a New normal with Organizations scurrying to equip all the distributed Workforce with the necessary equipment to get started. Some were prepared while others were caught unawares, but 9 months into the New Normal packed with learnings and lessons on how best to navigate through Work from home set up, its safe to say New Normal has indeed arrived. What has also accompanied this Normal is the Drudgery as a result of all the Distancing over the last 10 months. Employees who are unable to see work-life balance for its true meaning due to the overlap of both leading to very little balance, to say the least. Remote Working comes with its shares of pros like lack of interruptions, commute, water cooler conversations and long meetings. These would be viewed as cons by those who enjoyed these aspects of physical office- commute that helped them change gear from home to work and switch off by the end of the day, water cooler conversations that helped them connect better with colleagues etc. Making sense of Remote working and deploying strategies to make it work in the most effective manner is going to be critical in the coming year. There will be roles or functions which can maintain or even boost productivity in a work from anywhere environment and roles which will flourish in a physical office. Identifying these and curating a hybrid model looks like the future of Workplace.
- Being kind and Empathetic: Times are different and definitely challenging, even as we work through the maze of this unprecedented times. Being kind to yourself and others can help you from the tipping point of exhaustion and burnout. Self care has not been as important as it is today and this does not mean in a narcistic sense. Tiding the wave of the Pandemic is crucial but also important to come out on the other side of the pandemic with minimum damage to ones self. Employee well being both physical and mental has gained traction over the months and is bound to be priority in the coming year. Drawing boundaries to differentiate between work tasks and home chores, compartmentalizing them and binding them to the Calendar can help address the fatigue of full-time work. Taking mandatory breaks during the day , necessary day off from work, time boxing tasks as well as being vocal about being overwhelmed are key. Team Managers on their part also need to don the empathetic hat to virtually reach out to the team and provide a remote but resilient backbone for the team to lean on.
- Embracing and Adapting : This is possibly the most understated but overused phenomenon of the last year right from applying it to digitalization, new work set up, new communication channel, different type of brainstorming sessions etc. Realizing the need to embrace and adapt has been the need of the hour. Pivot or Perish seemed to be the tagline of many individuals and organizations. Those who adapted new normal and new ways of working with an open mind clearly helped pull the Organization forward. The idea of taking processes from ore covid days and superimposing them onto the Remote Working environment did not work – examples of virtual hovering in place of micromanagement, constant check in via phone and zoom in place of umpteen face to face interactions wore both the team members and managers. New normal beckons new ways of working, with trust playing a major role in cementing a strong inter team relationship. Establishing and embracing a trusting work culture surpassed every other employee engagement effort. Adapting to new methods of reaching out and engaging with team and also understanding when to give them space and trust them with the tasks in hand , even though tricky when you do not share the same office space, becomes utmost important to boost team morale in the New Normal.
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