The Year 2021: Fear of Freedom to Freedom from Fear 0

The Year 2021-Fear of Freedom to Freedom from Fear

2020 has been a difficult year, and for many, it was full of tough lessons. However, the experiences of 2020 due to COVID-19 became the largest game changer in modern times. As we enter 2021, we are hopeful that this is not just a new year, but a year of possibilities and an entirely new way of working and looking at work from a new perspective.

The experiences of 2020 have taught everyone to think out of the box and develop a solution mindset for survival. Never before tried ideas have taken centre stage and risktaking ability is on the rise. Whether it is ‘work from home’ or moving to a ‘hybrid working model’, organizations are prepared to take it in their stride.

The Year 2021-Fear of Freedom to Freedom from Fear

Never before did we welcome the new year with so much hope. Never before did we look back at the year gone by with so much relief. Never before did we wait so impatiently for the calendar to change. So, what’s making the year 2021 a hero in our hearts, an angel in our minds? We look back at 2020 as an unforgettable teacher of all times. A year that has taught us tough lessons by isolating us from things that we loved doing, by depriving us of freedom that we perhaps took for granted. Yet, we moved on, fought hard, lost a little ground, gained strength again all until we decided to sync with the times. And how did we do that? Yes, it’s not yet the vaccine, but the four-letter word ‘HOPE’ has been an antidote to fight another four-letter word ‘FEAR’. Some businesses have boomed and some have bombed. Yet all are up on their feet letting go of FEAR and holding on to HOPE. Getting back to business but is it going to be the proverbial “BAU” (business as usual)? Is it ‘hope’ or ‘fear’ that is going to be on top of the leaderboard? Of course, ‘hope’ is going to be the winner all the way. And how? Let’s start with the basics. The year 2021 opens up opportunities for each one of us like a brand-new book with new chapters.

Chapter 1: An explosion of path-breaking ideas that stir the entrepreneurial spirit

The experiences of 2020 have taught everyone to think out of the box and develop a solution mindset for survival. Never before tried ideas have taken centre stage and risk-taking ability is on the rise. Whether it is ‘work from home’ or moving to a ‘hybrid working model’, organizations are prepared to take it in their stride. Job losses have created stronger individuals who are ready to take anything that fate decides to throw on their faces. The entrepreneurial spirit is nothing but the behaviour of taking complete accountability of decisions and facing hurdles and taking obstacles head-on. New business models might emerge ranging from creative usage of technology to reconfiguring virtual workspaces. Talent acquisition would move away from ‘pin-code’ based to purely ‘skill’ based.

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Brand rebuilding and repositioning, employee value proposition, and rebuilding relationships will become focus areas. Business leaders will scout for creativity and novel ideas for rebooting their businesses. It is not just a new year, but genuinely an entirely new way of working and looking at work in a new perspective.

Chapter 2: Being remote but staying connected

Vaccines will come, citizens will be vaccinated yet staying social even though by distancing, may remain a preferred option. Giving away office spaces, reducing workcommute definitely would be seen as having a favourable impact on the carbon footprint. Knowledgeintensive industries will make optimum use of technological solutions to build repositories and platforms to collaborate. Who says remote won’t work? A common thread of purpose running from person to person will function like fibre optic cables that will bind people together. There was a time when people feared automation and there were apprehensions about automation creating role redundancies. The same fear factor would now turn into hope and support organizational growth. Employees would look up to automated services as an enabler for efficiently meeting deadlines, quickly responding to stakeholders and aiding better decision making. With data playing a crucial role, the distributed workforce would connect and collaborate even better. So much for strengthening ties to face the future together!

Chapter 3: Forwardlooking and not backward gazing

Our dashboards and metrics will see a change in perspective. Instead of the focus being on the lagging indicators, there will be a shift towards leading indicators. Predictive analytics will come into the spotlight while reporting analytics will continue to be a strong foundation. People related policies and procedures will move into being more agile in their implementation. Human capital custodians will have to play the role of students of behavioural sciences and observe, understand and interpret changed behaviours driven by changed mindsets. Take a look outside the organization, consumers too have faced the storm of 2020 and their expectations have changed too. Brand rebuilding and repositioning, employee value proposition, and rebuilding relationships will become focus areas. Business leaders will scout for creativity and novel ideas for rebooting their businesses. It is not just a new year, but genuinely an entirely new way of working and looking at work from a new perspective.

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Chapter 4: High touch coexisting with high tech

All these years we spoke about High Touch moving to High Tech. Suddenly we are looking at High Touch and High Tech joining hands in beautiful harmony. Hyper personalization by the usage of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will take customer experiences to the next level. For organizations to achieve this, investment strategies would change, thereby impacting the economy in a way that can’t go unnoticed.

There was a time when people feared automation and there were apprehensions about automation creating role redundancies. The same fear factor would now turn into hope and support organizational growth. Employees would look up to automated services as an enabler for efficiently meeting deadlines, quickly responding to stakeholders, and aiding better decision making.

What does all of this really mean? Increased intensity of competition in a new world. Sailing in VUCA by changing strategies of market outreach, nurturing customers and growing businesses would become inevitable even for well-established brands. New ways of doing business will have to be adopted with clear minds and embraced with open arms. The year 2021 is indeed an interesting new book to read after the learnings from the year 2020. Let us look forward to turning its pages with empathy, people eccentricity, and resilience to face the future.

And here is a song from the album ‘Across the Border’ that sums up what we felt as we welcomed 2021.

So the king sent his soldiers – loyal veterans On horses, in armour, with swords in their hands – To take our freedom, to destroy our dreams To bind us in chains, in cold dungeons deep To ravage our homes, to break our bones But never our spirit, our will and our songs – never our spirit, our will and our songs We now move on to freedom from fear… But wait a minute, it’s 1st January, the date has changed, has anything else?

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Sahil Nayar, Senior Associate Director – HR at KPMG and Harini Sreenivasan, Partner at Semcostyle Institute, India thrive on a common purpose - unlocking human potential. Both Sahil and Harini are design thinkers, enjoy weaving stories from every day life and sharing them with their followers. They believe in investing their time and energy in nurturing and influencing the next generation of Human Resource leaders through their experiences and reflect.

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