Prior to 2020, responding to a global pandemic is unlikely to have been a top strategic priority for businesses. Companies have had to adapt quickly to ensure business continuity and survival, with both the human and economic impact of the current crisis growing.
Alarmingly, a recent research from a leading IT service management company, said that 54 per cent of the companies in India did not have enough technology and resources for employees to work from home in the early days of pandemic, with no crisis plan or remote working policy in place.
IT departments have had to ride the rescue in quickly rolling out remote working capabilities at scale due to the lack of strategic planning, driving a work from home revolution, and therefore providing a unique opportunity to reset the way we work. Businesses now need to rethink the challenge ahead and create a better blueprint for the future.
A higher level of collaboration between IT and HR departments is required in doing so, to ensure that where old patterns are broken, newer, more beneficial processes take their place. This creates a greater emphasis on the balance between increased operational efficiency, business agility and employee well-being.
The strategic approach to current challenges can be broadly defined in three key stages, each with clear goals for the short, medium- and long-term sustainability of the business: Firstly, consolidate in the short to medium term, and ensure that the company is foundationally sound enough to thrive in a post-pandemic economic reality.
Second, is by reinventing the employee experience to deliver greater engagement, productivity, and efficiency and lastly by investing in digital transformation and innovation as a key strategic priority driving new growth potential, in the long term.
Consolidating Business Continuity by Bringing IT and HR Together
A recent EY report said that, around 70 per cent of the organizations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity. This means that as new workflows are introduced and companies get used to operating with a predominantly remote workforce, collaboration and strategic planning from both IT and HR is needed in order to support business continuity and manage employee well-being.
From an IT perspective, with a shift to a more remote working focused environment, employees now need the right digital tools that allow them to work efficiently while establishing open lines of communication across teams, departments and clients.
Driven by evolving technology and buy in from the wider workforce, HR will be a crucial player in ensuring that performance, productivity and engagement remains high and that work-life balance remains healthy.
Reinventing the Digital Work Experience To Feel More Human
We have an opportunity, particularly in knowledge-based sectors, to redefine what work means, decoupling the relationship between employee and physical workplaces, as we’ve moved towards a more cyber physical model, with evolving technology like 5G, AI and cloud computing.
To counter the ongoing business disruption, employee experience needs to be reinvented to deliver greater levels of engagement and efficiency, while creating working environments that feel more human.
It is as important to offer employees the right tools to do their work remotely, as issupporting a positive work culture that feels inclusive and having open lines of communication to encourage collaboration.
Managers and leaders can also play a key role in engaging directly with employees, helping employees manage expectations, understand responsibilities, using collaboration tools to help bring teams together, encourage productivity and create a sense of purpose and structure. Even socializing will need to be mapped out and finessed.
Future Proofing Operations and Digital Transformation in The New World Business Environment
At its core, the fundamentals to future success lie in investing in a new working model with technology, employee wellbeing and wider business agility. Greater collaboration between IT, HR and employees will help better support the adoption of new tech,build more empathy.
Working processes with tech partners who can provide forward-looking digital infrastructure will be crucial in maximizing newer opportunities and helping optimize new workflows.
As working environments evolve and employees spend less time at physical company locations, a new form of code of conduct will also need to be reviewed. Access to better digital tools will ensure that workers have the space to work more efficiently and collaborate better with the wider business.
Finally, with both HR and IT helping to make the digital workspace a reality, employees have an opportunity to strike a far healthier work/life balance and improve the overall employee experience.
- Ravindra Kelkar, Area Vice President, Indian Subcontinent, Citrix