The new normal after the pandemic remodels the work life
The term "new normal” sounds so intense yet exciting. Business leaders across the world have been musing over it for the past year. And several theories based on extensive research and surveys have been written on the topic. These theories are being put into practice by various leaders, however, I believe there is no complete playbook. What works best for your company can only be defined by you and your leadership team after several trials and errors. After spending the last 14 months of experiments, we have come up with the most reliable ways that would work for an organisation.
Initially, the challenge was for us to adapt to working remotely and being as effective as when working from the office. Remote working was an unexplored territory to many, many companies did an excellent job and successfully got through this initial year. These companies now have a better understanding of their people and their expectations and have developed initiatives that support the work-life for their employees.
Here are a few pointers which I believe would set the trends for the new normal -
Workforce and Workspace -
It is no longer work from home - it is work from anywhere
Post pandemic, most employees moved to their hometowns and have been working from the comfort of their spacious homes with family and friends, compared to their small cramped up spaces in the metros. The overall quality of life improved for many and now since working from home is equally effective, and rewarding, they are reluctant to come back! Working from home helps with savings and also provides ample time for a side hustle or a hobby. Not just working from home, employees who dreamt of working from different countries and staying in different cities across the world, can now make it happen. All they need is a laptop and stable internet connection and thanks to applications like AirBnB renting places for a long duration has become a matter of just one click.
Companies today need to make peace with a hybrid working model, a workforce that is distributed across the whole country or globe. We also foresee a rise in regional offices along with co-working spaces in tier-2 and tier-3 cities to accommodate the increasing workforce in these cities.
Fynd has been a step ahead in this aspect. Our Workcation policy was introduced by company founders long before the pandemic. For workcations, we travel to a holiday spot to work and rest, a big change from our usual 9-5 work setting. Mornings are spent brainstorming new ideas, afternoons on regular work, and evenings and weekends exploring the location. Workcations have been a great tool for team bonding. In the new normal, we expect to see frequent workcations over the year. In fact with all the cost savings on infrastructure and workspace, this looks like the best investment for your workforce and culture. With work from anywhere and workcations, work-life never sounded this exciting before!
Technology and Productivity -
Technology doesn't cause transformation, it accelerates the transformation - Jim Collins
Automation tools and new technologies have made life easier for everyone and our work faster. In the new normal, with extensive digitalisation, the companies need to embrace new technologies and plan L&D initiatives for their employees to build new skills. Creating opportunities for growth accelerates the transformation to a new normal.
One critical challenge of remote working is working in silos, without the constant chatter and fun on the work floor, causing anxiety, stress and ultimately a decrease in productivity. To tackle this, companies can break the yearly objectives into quarterly or even monthly objectives. This would help with frequent check-ins with the team and communicate a clear vision and strategy alongside understanding the pulse of the team and team members. Organizations should take time out to design employee activities that help build agility, team bonding and boost productivity.
The pandemic brought troubled times to us, but I believe we should try to bring positivity inwards by redefining and redesigning our own new normal for our work-life. The current hybrid model of working, combined with a digitalised culture allows us to rebuild company values and culture. Sure we miss the water cooler talks, office parties, events, whiteboard brainstorming sessions and also the evening of coffee catch-ups with colleagues turned friends. Those are great memories, however, it's important to accept that things may not completely go back to normal and hence the new normal. But nothing is keeping us from creating such interactions online. At Fynd we have been trying out the virtual team lunch dates to facilitate team bonding. We have dedicated days for fun activities where people can play trivia, crack random jokes, debate over irrelevant topics and just have fun.
Another major challenge is to ensure that new joiners feel embraced by the company from day one. In simpler times, all it needed was a lunch with the entire team to make a dozen friends on day one. In a digitized culture, senior employees can buddy up with new recruits, and will be responsible for their training, learning, performance and engagement.
Work - life Balance -
At the onset of remote working, we noticed the boundaries of personal life and professional life diminishing. Everyone started to feel like they are working 24*7. This raised a lot of concerns about the work-life balance and several companies making some drastic changes to their work culture. I believe the most important changes in the new normal would be strict adherence to the log off timings, no meeting workdays and an added value on empathetic leadership styles. Working from the office, be it a head office or regional office, for a couple of days every week will help employees stay emotionally engaged, make friends and develop a sense of belonging and loyalty towards the company.
In conclusion, the new normal has and will continue to remodel our work life. There are a million ways to make remote work exciting and effective. For the first time, there is a shift in the business mindset that brings focus on people and their well-being. The new normal for work-life is all about building a better life for employees, ultimately leading to more productivity and business for the organisation.