Following the second wave of the novel coronavirus in India, the second lockdown has altered lives and livelihood at a colossal level. As businesses continue to struggle to stay afloat, a recent report by Nomura said the second wave of the pandemic is delaying business normalization. Various sectors like tourism, hospitality, and travel, which had just started recovering and opened backed up, have been hit hard again.
With the pandemic stalling economic recovery, many businesses have shrunk substantially. The most formidable challenge now is how to continue business operations in an environment where the economies are still at stagnation and expected to be slow to recover. Making a turnaround will require innovation, resilience, imagination, reform, and a cohesive team. Business leaders need to rethink strategies and should be open to change given the current challenges.
Re-evaluating structural changes and embracing technology solutions
Bringing in structural and managerial changes into the organization is crucial to bolster business continuity in this uncertain environment. These changes must encompass both long-term vision and near-term tactical response. Businesses need to hurtle forward and fast-track trends like digitalization, cloud transformation, and automation. With remote working becoming a new reality, many businesses are considering making work from home a permanent practice. As the inevitability of flexi-work takes root, organizations are waking up to a new set of challenges, with a growing need to craft new organizational policies.
While the future of work points towards remote working, some organizations still would require resuming physical office operations. Those businesses would need to devise a return-to-office strategy carefully. Office spaces will need pandemic-proofing, which involves short-term fixes and long-term design upgrades. Collaborative workplaces with more open areas are likely to become more common in the future.
The future of work will always blend closely with technology. Embracing technology is no longer an option but the need of the hour. With terms like webinar, virtual chat rooms, and collaboration becoming part of an everyday glossary, organizations need to scale up their tech infrastructure to ensure smooth productivity and enhanced security.
Businesses should work towards building a better infrastructure for their homebound workforce. While many will be working remotely for the first time, there are some vital infrastructural challenges that businesses may face at some point such as cybersecurity, connectivity, lack of technical knowledge, and support. Many companies are still at a nascent stage of adopting technological solutions. Working towards building a better IT infrastructure is going to be crucial for businesses going forward. Additionally, investing in digital safety measures, better collaboration tools, cloud services, and building a more efficient IT team is equally essential. While the pandemic accelerated everyone’s digital leap, these technology trends will continue to influence lives, both privately and at work.
Focusing more on maintaining overall employee wellbeing
Apart from re-looking at business strategies, organizations need to also rethink their HR policies to ensure holistic employee wellness. The world now recognizes that COVID-19 is not a brief aberration; this “new normal” way of working may last for years. With a direct relationship between employee health and business success, wellbeing should be considered the center of most human capital conversations. Amidst the rapidly unfolding health crisis, an organization’s HR policies should emphasize concerns like COVID leaves, taking care of employees’ mental health, empathy, and corporative communication. According to the ‘Covid Benefits Survey 2021’, conducted by ANSR, 8 in 10 companies have prioritized employee welfare programs.
Organizations should realign their strategies and think of measures to safeguard the physical, emotional, and social health of their employees in the long haul. At the same time, they also need to ensure the workforce remains productive, innovative, engaged, and loyal. Organizations should also consider increasing employee engagement during such uncertain times and investing in physical and mental wellbeing programs. Initiatives like free mental health services and regular wellness sessions, including physical and emotional exercises, employee relationship-building activities, and encouraging employees to take time off, should be considered. When wellbeing is upheld effectively, it can very well be the engine that drives cultural change. It can also assist in workforce reskilling and transform how and where the work gets done.
Wellness is not a singular pursuit. Businesses must also prepare their employees to cope with the constant and abruptly changing environment. Conducting regular reskilling and upskilling programs can help employees keep pace with the changing business dynamics.
Implementing these changes requires vigilance and perseverance. With changing times, the organizational structure needs to continue evolving. Businesses adhering to the traditional structure may no longer meet the rapid pace of innovation and change employees’ needs in the post-pandemic future.
By Nikhil Arora, Vice President and Managing Director, GoDaddy India