Work Life Integration, Post the Pandemic
While workplaces have successfully reimagined, reconstructed and restricted practices to welcome back employees, they are also focused on how work-life will pan out post-pandemic.
Urvi Aradhya, CHRO, K Raheja Corp
COVID-19 brought together work and home lives under the same roof with remote collaborations and digital operations. However, with the vaccination drive underway in India it is quite possible that returning to office is just around the corner. The workplace is a reflection of a company’s culture and values, while also fostering a sense of bonding and community between employees.
While workplaces have successfully reimagined, reconstructed and restricted practices to welcome back employees, they are also focused on how work-life will pan out post-pandemic. They are also faced with the dilemma of whether the hybrid way of working will impact how we communicate, engage and collaborate with multiple teams; if the future is digital then the aspect of ethics and responsibilities need to be given a more serious thought. Several companies have already begun opening up their office spaces, albeit in a phased cautious manner, to welcome employees back.
For many professionals, the office space is where they connect for fresh perspectives and this is where ideas transform into successful business projects and hence it is inevitable that they are determined to return to their work desk, with complete safety precautions in place. As per a recent JLL Work from Home Experience Survey, almost 82 percent of employees in India have shown their eagerness to go back to their offices and work — the way it was before the COVID-19 outbreak. While employees look forward to returning to their workplace, they also anticipate arrangements at the work premises that focuses on their health, well-being and safety. It is essential to consider these factors for a smooth transition into work from office:
Acknowledging, discussing and supporting mental wellbeing at work
The inordinate amounts of stress caused in the year gone by due to the pandemic has prompted business leaders to prioritise and focus on employee’s mental well-being. The stigma around mental health and the fear of being judged by colleagues and managers may lead to a certain level of reluctance amongst individuals to open up and to talk about it. For instance, an employee may feel the need to be heard about the job stress or work-life balance or transitioning from work from home to office. Therefore, it is crucial for leaders to initiate by establishing a dialogue and take a proactive role in recognising, discussing and encouraging mental wellbeing at work. This also means making sure that employees have access to necessary resources. For instance, care facilities like a crèche for those with young children.
Adapting to the Hybrid Workplace model
Businesses will witness the emergence of a hybrid workplace with flexible work policies. Along with flexibility though, employees will continue to seek a professional office set-up, which provides modern digital and on-demand tech solutions, along with the human interface, of colleagues. They also expect to redesigning of workspaces in a manner that treads the fine line between social distancing and facilitating employee camaraderie. As a company K Raheja Corp has already become more flexible, offering multi-location options to ease the burden of travelling.
Many organisations are also adapting to the hub and spoke model as it enables employees to work from a strategic spoke location nearby to their place of living, to reduce commute time and expenses. As the employees returning to workplace is reduced, large headquarters seem less viable to some organizations, hence they are shifting towards a decentralized hub and spoke model.
Focusing on organizational and individual development
As digitisation and modern technologies are swiftly reshaping global business practices, it has presented tremendous opportunity for economic growth if leveraged optimally. The change in the way we work is likely to be accelerated by a digital push. An Ericsson IndustryLab report titled The Dematerialized Office, released in October last year, brought forth the expectations of the workplace of 2030. According to the report, nearly six in 10 employees foresee a permanent increase in online meetings and need tools that better support remote interaction. These practices help boost productivity through enhanced time management, accuracy and performance efficiency through data storage and predicting the operational requirements across various teams of the organization.
Investing in contactless operations to build a safer office space
Many companies around the world have risen to the occasion, acting swiftly to safeguard employees and migrate to a new way of working that even the most extreme business-continuity plans hadn’t envisioned. De-densification is going to be the need of the hour prompting a post-Covid design change in offices as a number of amenities will be prioritised by developers.
At K Raheja Corp, we have a designated ‘office-place’, which is a place for congregation, mentorship, learning and camaraderie, something that cannot be replaced with a digital tool. Some other changes that we have brought about include: Strict entry checking – which is connected through an app – which also features the Arogya Setu app, voice command elevators, sensor water dispensers, spacing in the office between employees, shield barriers at work desks, continuous sanitization of the office.
Organisations are also optimistic about providing a safe work environment to their employees and are willing and flexible to address the concerns of the teams if they feel uneasy to travel, for instance during peak travel hours.
As companies march forward on the hope of horizon, the newly implemented safety procedures and technologies are being deployed to increase security. In a post-pandemic world, it is crucial to address the safety needs of employees and establish a business trust climate to achieve the desired outcomes of the overall organisation.
(The writeup has been written and attributed to BW Businessworld/ BW People) by Urvi Aradhya, CHRO, K Raheja Corp)