Opinion: Re-Imagining The Workplace Environment In Covid Times

After the arduous series of lockdowns, corporate India is now looking at bringing its employees back to work.

After the arduous series of lockdowns, corporate India is now looking at bringing its employees back to work. But with the fickle nature of the virus, top bosses are setting realistic expectations and anticipating more disruptions in the months to come. It is therefore important for technology to rise to the aspirations of the new age workplace that allows operations, reducing the impact of the pandemic on businesses.

Global Business Impact

Clearly, the pandemic has impacted businesses of every size in the country. According to KPMG, 94 per cent of the Fortune 1000 have experienced Covid 19 disruptions. Dun and Bradstreet states that about 82 per cent of small businesses have been impacted as well. While there is an eerie consensus about the uncertainties of the future, this very unrest and volatility will usher in a new era for innovation, not only for businesses but at various levels of government, D2C functions and communities.

workinsync.io' hybrid workplace model is one such innovation that may mitigate the risks to put business operations back in action. We have all been working from home and we have done well. Most of that credit goes to the young, nimble corporate India that we can be very proud of. However, it does not end there. Businesses are now looking to optimize performance and focus on productivity, work-life balance and bring in a structure to the ad hoc operations to bring in business optimisation. This is the critical need of the hour.

Innovation for optimisation

D2C brands are adopting various web-based platforms, livestreams like Firework to adopt an immersive and engaging ecommerce strategy to continue to engage with consumers in the absence of the brick-and-mortar retail operations.

The Government is also devising innovative ways to assist the needs of its citizens by building hyperlocal Covid management stations, like they have done in Bengaluru.

workinsync.io, similarly, is assisting enterprises in creating the critical transformation that will allow businesses to operate irrespective of the pandemic risks. With a SaaS based application, WorkInSync can incorporate the sensitivities of pandemic and empower businesses to operate, taking into consideration real time Government regulations.

While remote work is in full swing and have been found to be effective to counter the pandemic impact, it is not without its challenges. Employees and enterprises need to be able to sustain. Childcare responsibilities, lack of space for work at home are barriers to the concept of entirely working from home. Mental health, fatigue, loneliness are real problems that needs to be addressed immediately. While healthcare is an obvious solution, significant part of the responsibility lies with the enterprise as well and an effective hybrid workplace strategy can build an ecosystem that is far more sustainable over a long period of time.

A BCG study suggests 60 per cent of employees have no outside assistance in caring for children or household work at a time where parents are spending an additional 27 hours addressing these household needs. Now with schools beginning the 21-22 session, a parent's responsibility will only multiply.

The hybrid workplace builds a bridge between working in isolation and working with teams, managing some of the symptoms that working in absolute isolation causes.

Change Agents

The pandemic may have thrown multiple curve balls at us, but we have also realised that we not only need to take them on, but really hit them out of the park as well. Technology needs to empower the Indian Economy and its flag bearers to progress with caution rather than crumble. A McKinsey report suggests "Organizations must also use this moment to break from the inertia of the past by dispensing with suboptimal old habits and systems"

A well thought out return to office coupled with organizational reinvention of age-old policies and protocols can create generations of more productive employees through better experience that encourage collaborative work thus reducing costs. In an environment that is conducive to change, innovation and nimble to transform, the ecosystem will benefit greatly in bringing about a shift that counters the risks of pandemic

Ultimately, the aim of this reinvention will be what leading companies have always wanted: a safe environment where people can enjoy their work, collaborate with their colleagues, and achieve the objectives of their organizations. A prime example is the Tata Son's Chairman Mr. Natarajan Chandrasekaran's comment on hybrid workplace in the Qatar Economic Forum. Very rightly, he is seeing the pandemic challenges as an opportunity to make changes that will be ultimately good for sustained growth.

Leadership and Culture

The virus has brought out the best in many of us, some have showcased strong leadership practices. Companies have looked inwards at their guiding principles and purpose for decision making. Now, business leaders must probe and evaluate the opportunity that this pandemic presents and decide ways to keep progress and growth as their priority keeping their employees in the centre of the universe.

India is young and youth are always nimble and adapt to change. How could large enterprises reflect the same values and build an ecosystem that can supercharge their growth. The answer lies in the ability to be grounded in facts, reality and at the same time be able to put together policies and protocols that support collaboration and innovation rather than isolation

Building a truly bionic environment that takes the best of technology and powers them with human capabilities and innovation, driven by purpose and grounded in facts and realities will see the rise of a new India, a true super power, even in the midst of the pandemic that has ravaged our country for the past 24 months.

(Deepesh Agarwal is co-founder and CEO of WorkInSync)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.