The work culture is going to experience a major overhaul. With more and more employees planning to work from home, HR professionals will have to work with business heads to create policies and agendas that not only align with business goals but employee-centric. We will also see a shift from corporate social responsibility to personal social responsibility, with individuals becoming more aware of their responsibilities towards the society in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ankur Gautum tells us how else the work culture will change as organisations go virtual.
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020 will witness a refashioning in the working patterns across the globe, which will impact all industries whether private or government.
All establishments are facing challenges in operating their businesses due to the ongoing lockdown. The economic life cycle is almost paused. Not only private organisations, but the government is also facing serious impediment to mobilize economy of the country. Industries need to revivify the economic system and for that, they will need the workforce back at work. However, the question is how it will be feasible in the current scenario where social distancing is the only MANTRA of saving your life and that of others. In this adversity, laying off employees or implementing policies that are not employee-friendly will only create a hostile relationship between the employer and the employees.
Thus, the need of the hour is for organisations to create policies that work in favour of both parties. Employers and employees both have to work together in harmony and with a supportive approach until the running phase is normalized.
It is expected from the central government to introduce new labour policies or trade-related policies for PAN India considering new scenarios, especially Post-COVID-19, to protect employees’ and employers’ interests. This is likely to aid the ease to work in a new working environment.
I believe in learning from every situation and Post-COVID 19, we should definitely focus on some course correction. As an individual, industrialist, or state, we should not forget how our natural resources were misused in the name of development. Nowadays, there’s news everywhere about how people can see the Himalayan peak from Saharanpur and Jalandhar. This has astonished me, and I believe it is enough evidence to make us understand how we are damaging our eco-system.
We must not forget that the Ecosystem comes before the economic system and without mother nature, nothing is of much use, as whatever we are constructing and developing is over the Earth. Government and NGOs are working to protect the Earth and its resources by implementing projects like Namami Gange etc. but this is not enough. Our corporate hubs and even we as individuals have to work on this else we will encounter more situations similar to the COVID-19 pandemic in the future, and all we will be able to do is discuss them on the social platforms. We must fix all these issues by putting real-time efforts else the day nature will hit the refresh button we will be playing the role of a mere audience.
From Corporate Responsibility to Personal Responsibility
Business houses and corporates are investing their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) funds to meet their philanthropic goals and for the benefit of the society. However, we would not witness a significant impact until we adopt the PSR (Personal Social Responsibility) approach. PSR will make us liable towards the environment by avoiding unethical practices of throwing garbage on roads, in rivers, and in open areas. We should avoid bonded labour or child labour practice in our society which still exists even after having policies and government guidelines against them. PSR policy should be drafted and implemented by the government as well as organisations to make citizens or employees of the company liable towards society.
In our corporate culture, it is expected from employees to not waste resources given to them at the workplaces like meals, drinking water, and sanitization material, etc. Employees should be motivated to take part in social welfare projects related to the cause they believe in at least once a month and should be asked to share their picture to frame and place on their desk or any notice board location to motivate others. Similarly, the government can draft policies to ensure every citizen of this nation, is doing something for this Earth. My intention behind saying all this is when corporates are bound to perform under CSR and we expect from the government to fix all challenges, then it makes clear sense that individual is also responsible to return something to make this world better and that process can be called PSR (Personal Social Responsibility).
Working From Home – The New Normal
Coming back to the subject of my article, we will see many changes in our routine lives now both personally and professionally. Now industries will speed up the digitalization of their routine services to facilitate social distancing. Nowadays we are seeing so many posts across social platforms around #workingfromhome #wfh etc. Millennials are welcoming this work culture.
Now, every organisation will have to find ways to keep employees engaged while they are at their homes. It is important to create new policies related to the nature of employment, working hours, wages, reimbursement policies, non-disclosure agreement, data privacy, training and development, and onboarding, etc.
We have to create policies for unseen challenges like unavailability of the internet or slow internet connection during a group meeting, communicating with the in house team or client, what will be the understanding level and impact on business.
Work-from-home culture has been quite prevalent in the IT sector, but other industries adapting this working style is subject to the creation of a new work process and its implementation after SWOT analysis. Technically, work from home has various benefits. Employees can be relieved from the routine challenges of commuting. This will really help our ecosystem as the pollution level will decrease drastically due to less traffic on the roads. The employees also get enough time to be with their families, which promotes a better work-life balance.
Now let’s look at the advantages of the work-from-home culture for the organisations. As more and more people start to work from home, organisations will begin to focus more on the digitalization process, be it sales, human resources, operations, and administration. Companies will see a significant reduction in their monthly business operative expenses as now there is no need for big spaces for workstations, cubicles, cafeteria, and parking lots, especially in metro cities. The employees will be more focused on the tasks assigned to them during WFH, and that will be the masterstroke to align everyone towards business goals without distraction.
The Role of HR in Transformation
If I talk from the perspective of HR, I see both challenges and benefits of WFH. The onboarding process will now need to be digitalized and documents will be saved on the organisation’s cloud storage, which will be accessed from anywhere by any official. By adopting this culture, we will promote SAVE GREEN’s message. All activities like PMS, recruitment, Onboarding, exit formalities etc. will happen virtually and recorded conversation can be stored for future reference too. This part was missing during face to face interaction earlier. It can now help us recall the major points of the discussion. Moreover, the recruitment team will get more liberty to hire candidates from different locations, which will increase the hiring rate and will create more employment opportunities for those who are living in remote areas especially in metro cities. Now employees will not have to leave their hometown in the quest of a job.
HR will also face a fair share of challenges. What will be the plan of action, if any company given asset is damaged while the employee is using it at home? Now, there would be a conflict as to who will be paying the damages in this scenario and what would be reinforcement policy if someone is working from another location from your office to continue their work without wasting much time.
HR professionals will need to work closely with business heads to find apt responses to these situations. They must assess all the best possible solutions for upcoming challenges, so the role of the human resource department will be crucial and analytical.
HR will be more responsible to ensure work-life balance for WFH employees as it is a general phenomenon in the back of our minds that if a person is at home they are available to work even at odd hours. So to handle this situation HR must draft clear WFH policy, else in case of any escalation from the team, the HR will be put into question too.
We are going to witness a lot of challenges in the coming time in both our professional and personal lives. It is best to embrace the change and welcome those challenges with a positive frame of mind.