Changing Work Practices As The Pandemic Rages On 430

By Rashi Srivastava, Executive Vice President, Qentelli

As the pandemic resets workplace practices, the business world is dramatically enhancing its pandemic response and embedding safeguards to protect employees. Read on to find out how organisations have revamped their strategies to emerge stronger from the Covid-19 crisis and prepare for the third wave of the pandemic.

Are organisations better prepared to handle the third wave of Covid-19? The short answer is – Yes! Covid-19 is the most threatening pandemic the world has witnessed in the last 100 years. It affected almost all the aspects of our lives – from personal to professional. It forced people to reconsider a wide variety of practices that were once entrenched. Saying that Covid-19 has “changed our world,” would be an understatement as we might never be able to go back to things that were existing. The world will not remain the same after the pandemic. After over two years into the pandemic, the experts believe SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay, and we need to learn to live with it and its variants.

In the long haul, the business world is dramatically enhancing its pandemic response and embedding safeguards to protect employees. Undoubtedly, after dealing with two deadly waves, organisations are now better prepared to deal with the third wave of the pandemic.  

A great shift in the organisational mindset

Covid-19 sent more than half of the world’s population into unprecedented lockdowns and made them experience strict containment measures. It made ‘work from home’ the “new normal” and virtual meetings the new way of working. The abrupt shift to working from home was highly transformative and demanded a shift in the organisational mindset.

Most visionary organisations are doing a fantastic job in normalising the transition and making it seamless. Organisations have revamped their policies to be more employee-centric with a “hybrid model” of working, relocation policies, online monthly meetings, revised salary structures, and better medical and health coverage.

Work-life integration

With virtual mediums growing popular, it is getting hard to determine when the working hours are starting and when they’re ending. The new way of communication is tethering employees to a 24/7 work cycle. Organisations are redefining work-life integration and introducing a slew of employee-centric policies while ensuring business productivity. Any impact on the work-life balance casts a direct impact on the workforce. Hence, organisations are focusing on employee engagement with a new perspective.  

“Most visionary organisations are doing a fantastic job in normalising the transition and making it seamless. Organisations have revamped their policies to be more employee-centric with a “hybrid model” of working, relocation policies, online monthly meetings, revised salary structures, and better medical and health coverage.”

Employers are implementing no-questions-asked leave policies, adopting holistic HR policies, moving from standard rewards to experiential rewards, providing flexible working hours to employees, and promoting asynchronous work models.

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Mental health awareness is on the rise, and companies are taking steps to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on mental health. Covid-related isolation, minimal social life, and anxiety have severely affected many employees in the past two years. Organisations are arranging sessions with health and mental wellness experts to address the issue.

Hybrid work model

The world witnessed a gradual decline in new Covid-19 cases following a peak in mid-2021. The positive trend encouraged many organisations to roll out the return-to-work initiative from January 1, 2022. However, post-new year, the Covid-19 cases rose exponentially, and due to the onset of the third wave, organisations suspended the return-to-office notification.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant has delayed the recovery timelines. It has compelled conventional organisations to embrace a more agile approach. Many large corporations, including Microsoft, Meta, and Twitter, have rooted for permanent remote working and hybrid work models. 

At the height of the second wave, when India was recording over four lakh cases daily, organisations saw WFH as an effective model. However, with the gradual decline in the cases and Omicron variant leading to reduced hospitalisation, organisations now see a future in the hybrid model of remote and in-office working. The model is helping organisations reap the benefits of remote working with the advantages of social interactions. It is enabling organisations to manage their cultural space while complementing the evolving needs of the employees.

Companies that had no desire to welcome the idea of a hybrid workspace before the third wave are now ready to test it.

Improved work environment

Several surveys on work culture post-pandemic, have uncovered an issue that was lost in the pandemic-infused chaos. The surveys found that many employees felt trapped in a round-the-clock work-cycle and overwhelmed by the workload. During the first and second waves of Covid-19, many people complained of not getting adequate breaks due to back-to-back Zoom calls and endless ‘pings.’ In the WFH set-up, working hours gradually got stretched, and women and working parents were most affected by it. Many had to sit over the weekends to keep up with the rising workloads.

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Organisations are encouraging empathetic behaviour towards colleagues, asking for availability before scheduling calls. Organisations are supporting flexible schedules and supporting employee needs. Managers are monitoring the logging hours of their employees and counselling them.

Qentelli promotes work-life integration and our leaders frequently interact with our employees. We are organising well-being challenges, engaging games, yoga, and wellness sessions and encouraging employees to take personal time off.

“Mental health awareness is on the rise, and companies are taking steps to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on mental health. Covid-related isolation, minimal social life and anxiety have severely affected many employees in the past two years. Organisations are arranging sessions with health and mental wellness experts to address the issue.”

Need for upskilling the workforce

In a world where minimal physical contact has become the norm, digitalisation is inevitable. The Covid-19 outbreak has intensified the need for going digital to sustain business growth and survive in a competitive market. Amid such times, it has become imperative for employees to learn and unlearn to adapt to the digital age.

Organisations are now investing in various upskilling and reskilling programs to help employees stay relevant in the changing times.

Build back better

Two ruthless waves of Covid-19 had hit organisations hard and badly affected all the facets of the business. Over time, organisations have emerged stronger from the Covid-19 crisis and have taken unprecedented moves to safeguard their crucial assets – people, information, goodwill, and values.  

The pandemic pushed the businesses into a world full of unknown variables, but organisations have revamped their strategies to come back stronger, to ‘build back better.’

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Rashi is an agile practitioner with operational and service delivery excellence as her forte. She brings a diverse experience of over two decades across various industry verticals and domains globally. At Qentelli, Rashi leads the global service delivery and solution teams and is the site lead offshore.

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