Workplaces change over time. Of course. But the direction and rate of change in the last year or so has perhaps never been seen before. Covid-19 has claimed not just lives, but livelihoods as well, making unimagined changes in the way organisations and employees work.
New terms have been added to our lexicons – perhaps none more so than WFH (work from home). Time will tell whether many of the workplace adjustments, made under compulsion at the moment, will be of a more permanent nature. As layoffs and furloughs gather pace, and many transitions from full time employees with social benefits to contract workers, the challenges only gather urgency.
At a time when employers are facing reduced incomes, the question has been how to rethink and reinvent the workplace to make employees feel safe and productive. Indeed, several companies have gone under – from large corporations to micro enterprises. With falling incomes, redundancies have been common, national unemployment figures are record highs, and even the lucky ones have seen pay cuts and loss of other benefits. Above which is the increased threat of an approaching job loss as markets struggle to recover. If an organisation has to lay off employees, it could do so by aiding the employee in any way possible, including to get a new job.
Even though employers may be financially constrained at this time, major corporations and public sector employers have increased responsibility in these times. Surveys indicate many corporations are looking to change their product and services mix. This can only be done with employee engagement.
If an employee is to be more than just a mechanical worker, but remain productive and creative, then his or her apprehensions need to be addressed. Employee health, safety, and well-being should be of paramount importance – for an employee worrying about any of these is unlikely to be contributing at their best. To survive and thrive in the Covid-impacted years, which could stretch for a while, and especially if they have to rethink their work processes, they need to feel secure. To achieve this, some sectors may have to work harder to rethink their structures, even reimagine the workplace.
While we are rethinking and reinventing the workplace, efforts should be made to address concerns of those who prefer WFH. New ways of interactions will need to be thought through for them – internal and external. Some large companies have aided remote working by providing grants to their employees, but many other employees are facing new daunting challenges of managing a home, often with children, while having to concentrate on work. All these are critical issues that need to be addressed.
It is even more necessary to get feedback about employee concerns at this time, on getting employee views on how their current situation can be improved. HR departments, often slanted to protect employers rather than employees, have their work cut out if they want to help employees. Communication has become even more crucial with remote or virtual employees, who over time, will need to understand how decisions are being made and who’s making them. Communicating the changed priorities with utmost clarity will only help employees re-evaluate their own futures, and many could actually be retraining to adjust to changing workplaces.
About the Author
An avid thinker, Sonali has a flair for identifying and adopting emerging trends due to her vast experience and in-depth knowledge of each industry. Sonali is very competent with her PR and marketing skills which make it easy for her to connect with people and subsequently influence them to perform better.
Sonali is an alumnus of Indian School of Business Management & Administration. With almost
2 decades of experience in Brand Solutions and Communications, Sonali was leading Marketing & Communications for several global brands and has played a pivotal role in establishing their brand recall value. Taking forward this experience Sonali founded The Hatch Project, with the sole motive of designing creative and strategic solutions for brands and corporates in terms of Media Strategies, Brand Consulting, Integrated Communications, Image Building, Crisis Communication, Online Reputation Management, Social Media Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Stakeholder Engagement, all under one roof to ensure strong foothold of the client in their respective sectors.