By Rahul Sharma, MD-India, LogMeIn
Certain developments in the global business landscape were in slow but steady progress throughout the past decade. Concepts such as remote and flexible working were increasingly gaining currency amongst organizations, especially with the entry of millennials and genzennials in the modern workforce.
Now the spread of coronavirus has taken its toll – and to say that the pace and scale of adoption of remote working has escalated since the viral outbreak would be an understatement.
As a preventative measure to fight the pandemic, the initial wave of lockdowns forced people to social distance by staying in their homes. Businesses, in turn, latched on to anything that helped them maintain continuity amidst this unforeseen turbulence. No longer a matter of choice but of necessity, companies enforced work from home plans and leveraged remote connectivity and digital collaboration tools to enable seamless communication within the organization.
Therefore, the transformation to working from anywhere accelerated, supported by cutting-edge digital communication and collaboration solutions. However, the mass migration of business processes and operations to the cloud brought with it a fair share of challenges on both individual and organizational levels.
Adapting to the new, challenging normal
Routines that people had thought of as part of the “normal” way of working became obsolete almost overnight. Gone were daily commutes, watercooler conversations, and post-office group hangouts. With digital collaboration replacing in-person interactions, all communication began taking place either on emails, texts, phone or video calls.
Besides problems with burnout from working too many hours from home, , many employees living with families, especially young children, have not found it an easy transition and for those living alone, managing their mental health suddenly becamea challenge exacerbated by the pandemic-induced isolation.
Needless to say, companies as well as employees have persevered. This was made possible thanks to employees and their senior leadership coming together to decide strategic policy changes that accommodated the requirements during this extraordinary period. The shift towards increased flexibility and being able to work from anywhere has been a product of this development. Its goal is to protect the well-being of the employee mindscape without compromising organizational productivity.
Meeting a post-pandemic necessity: Towards a flexible work culture
The key to ensuring that employees—both existing and those who will join the workforce in the future—adapt well to this fairly new work culture is to address and overcome the real challenges that the work-from-home mandate brings with it. Unlike in an office setting, employees working from home need to juggle between professional and domestic responsibilities. People need to look after their children and family, and after themselves.
The new work culture needs to pre-emt and understand issues like exhaustion and encourage employees to develop coping mechanisms and to use the right tools at work to help their productivity and manage work related stress in a healthy manner. Flexible working is therefore an effective and indispensable solution.
Instead of subjecting employees to strict, short-term deadlines, giving them space and time to work at their own pace to generate quality output can prove beneficial on multiple accounts. For one, it will save employees from dealing with unnecessary pressure, especially in case an emergency crops up at their home. Simply setting realistic deadlines can help provide the peace of mind necessary for satisfactory execution of tasks. It will also reduce the likelihood of them suffering from prolonged burnout which is detrimental for both their mental as well as their cardiovascular health.
There’s another long-term benefit to adopting a flexible work culture. Genzennials, who will comprise a majority of the workforce of the future, expect more than a good salary package. Work culture is, and will continue to be, a major focal point for them when looking for a new job. Since the workforce defines the culture at any organization, prioritizing the needs of its employees with a flexible work policy can help businesses establish themselves as a caring employer and attract top talent.
A remote-centric workforce is going to be a mainstay of the post-COVID-19 business ecosystem. Hence, even as technology innovations improve the technical aspects of the remote working strategy their effect on cultural aspects also neeed to be understood. By providing a work culture that is conscious of the employees’ pains and actively seeks to mitigate them, organizations can protect their employees, allow them to be productive and happier and enable a more prosperous future for all in the post-pandemic world.
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