The New Normal
- Riya Nathe
“From cubicles to industry valves, bistro to clothing boutiques, shops to corporate offices, businesses around the world are dreaming of creative ways to reinstate, seeking to start revenue flowing again; minimizing the risk to customers and employees at the same time.
”A global, novel virus has kept us contained in our homes, may be for months, is already redefining our relationship with the governments, with the outside world and of course; with our family.
The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled almost all of us to balance our work and home life under one roof.
The struggle to manage it all is not only evident but is also on a rise. Some employers are forced to shut their doors while others are making their employees work from home. Some are ensuring job safety while some are carrying out lay-offs. Many are receiving their pay cheques, while many are not.
These changes are unsettling and unfamiliar and raise many questions in our minds like What will the future hold? Will touch be a taboo ? Will companies recruit ? What will happen to the workplaces ? What will the transition period back into the office environment be like ? or Are we looking at the beginning of the end of traditional workplace setting ?Today staying at home is no longer an option, but a rule.
But given a thought, how long will it last ? The long-established way of conducting business can be temporarily shifted to remote working by strategic navigation but will not last for long.
As the adage goes, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, it is very much possible this pandemic may force us to look critically at our present workplace scenario and bring in more relevant and welcome changes, while many organisations come up with Reboot Strategy.
Here are few steps that firms will take up to overcome the unprecedented challenge at workplace post Covid-19.
Most of us spend majority of our time in our workspaces and hence it becomes mandatory to maintain hygienic working environments. Hygienic environments contribute to a healthy workforce thus increasing the productivity of the office.
Every workplace will demand its own way of sanitization however certain measures would remain common like sanitizing, wearing masks, observing social distancing, etc.
Distance Sitting :
This pandemic has created lot of challenges to numerous people across the globe. Places of work which call for shared desks and common areas have temporarily lost their allure.
Distance sitting would thus be one such measure which could be implemented at different levels. Some of these ways could be:
Reallocation of desks :
The vacant spaces which were not in use or probably used for a less important activity can now be allocated to the employees to prevent risk arising from sitting close to one another.
Flexibility of working :
With limited area for re- allocation of people, organisations can plan different working shifts for the staff based on the work priority which would render to be an effective way of working and managing the workforce.
Reducing one to one interactions :
Another trend that the workplaces will witness would be the shift from having physical interactions to virtual meetings. Work will happen through Zoom, Webex Meet etc. This will also boost up the digital marketing sector.
Diversity at work :
The WFH policy has created a sense of acceptance amongst the employers towards the differently abled people who were otherwise not considered a part of the traditional working system. This would thus open up views in seeing how people can contribute in different ways and give the best in their work.
Compassionate Leadership :
The leadership qualities of individuals would improve as during such tough times, leaders who are effective in their decisions will come up and those who aren’t would get an opportunity to improve. People look up to the leaders for guidance as to what and how to do.
During uncertainties and fluid times, it is very important to have a compassionate, trustworthy, calm leader. Managers will now be more empathetic and considerate towards their team-mates.
Delegation of work :
Hierarchy exists in every organisation and work distribution happens accordingly. The top authorities were always the decision makers and the same was being followed even during the pandemic, which created stress and pressure amongst them. Thus post pandemic the change most workplaces will see is delegation of tasks for efficient working.
To create a positive company culture and involvement of the employees in work, transparency plays an important role. Pre-covid, the employees had a leverage of not disclosing their minute details but now certainly the scenario will change and every background information will be registered.
Relationship and Touch :
Isn’t it very difficult to imagine a workplace without Fist bumps, hugs or handshakes ? Probably it would feel bizarre for a couple of days but eventually it would be a part of you. There would be no more discussions over chai-sutta, no more cursing the boss or discussing the work pressures over lunch breaks. There’ll be a new culture that’ll get added to the workplace – “Namaste Culture”.
Workspace facilities :
Organisations have always emphasised on break areas where employees spend time away from their screens or the pressure of work. Breakout spaces will now be abided with a set of rules. Social distancing would be observed in common spaces like elevators, washrooms, cafeterias etc. to prevent spread of the infection.
Though this pandemic has posed tough times for everyone, it has at the same time opened up new opportunities for many. Presently, it may be quite difficult to hold a sense of optimism towards the future, considering that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
But as they say, “this too shall pass”, and when it does, we all need to be prepared to embrace the changes and incorporate them in our workplaces for it will be the ‘new normal’.