Returning to Work – Is it a New Normal?
Most of the organizations are going through a phase of restructuring ways of work and the impacted areas would certainly be commercial office space, headcount, and IT Infra. The road ahead is not going to be easy but the adoption of new ways or work is on the top of the taskbar in every organization.
The COVID pandemic has created a fear of what work-life would be once the pandemic ends or is possibly controlled through Drugs and Vaccines?
We live in uncertain times, not knowing whether we would be able to work from office or will continue remote working as we currently do. There is no definite answer to this question, but what appears certain is that there would be several new norms in employment when normalcy returns and they include some of the following:
a) Increased dependency on automation for Non-IT companies: Organisations that cannot undertake remote working would look for automation as its backbone for performance enabling de-humanization of routine or transactional jobs which can be carried out at an affordable lower capital expense rate.
b) Remote working: Working from anywhere – be it home or a different workspace – has been a success and most of the organizations which adopted this strategy in a huff over the past three months have found it an effective means of service delivery. Given this experience, new questions raised in the industry as to whether they're an unnecessary zeal in the utilization of larger office space than required and that whether the people's strength was more than required in anticipation of rapid growth? Most of the organizations are going through a phase of restructuring ways of work and the impacted areas would certainly be commercial office space, headcount, and IT Infra. The road ahead is not going to be easy but the adoption of new ways or work is on the top of the taskbar in every organization.
c) Employee care: The government in India chose to use a very old provision in the National Disaster Management Act in tiding over the COVID crisis and mandated employers to pay wages in this period, irrespective of productivity. This is a paradigm shift of responsibility of welfare from the Government to the Employers completely on wage protection as well as healthcare in a nonchalant manner without any consultations with the industry, bypassing all legislative controls on Labour so far. This has opened up a new vista for an employer to consider being progressive in taking care of all aspects of employee welfare not just limiting to applicable laws and may set a new trend in benefits for the right talent.
d) A second career in non-urban areas as well as for housewives: Another interesting change that could make wages very competitive would be an increase in opportunity for employees in non-urban areas as well as housewives who found commuting and reach as a major hindrance in taking up employment opportunities. This workforce will provide a larger base to choose from and will also usher in flexi-hours based employment opportunities. With India rearing to invite new industries moving out of China with several states adopting more flexible labor laws to facilitate such movement, the industry will innovate flexi-hours based full time or part-time employment opportunities that would give it an arbitrage on resource availability as well as costs.
Having said these, we should recognize that the earliest answer to COVID by way of drugs or vaccines could alter the way industry looks at these possibilities not allowing the trend to be a new normal. However, even the ‘new normal’ extending to another year or so could make these trends a way of life and create opportunities we have spoken above. Either way, COVID appears to have a positive impact in India, given our ability to adapt to new ways in a jiffy, we call it JUGAD.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house