Kalyan Duvva

Covid-19 is the worst ever crisis the humankind faced so far, having dramatically changed people’s lifestyle, altered the dynamics of human interaction and last but not the least, changed the work culture of organisations.

The pandemic, which lasted for two full years with a caution of ‘avoiding physical contact’, has necessitated transformation of organisations. The small and medium size companies, representing 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment across the world, were severely impacted during the pandemic forcing them to adapt a new work culture.

During the pre-pandemic period, there was a strong advocacy of process-driven culture which insisted on team work to deliver on their strategy and fulfil customers’ needs, to help the organisation win more customers.

Once Covid-19 spread its tentacles, use of technology, flexibility of working hours, upskilling and wellness of employees rose to prominence.

Use of technology: Compelled to handle the operations with minimum workforce during the lockdown, the industry had to make the best use of technology by incorporating it at all stages of the manufacturing chain, to capture growth and profitability. Digitalisation and mechanisation of some operations would not only reduce dependence on workforce but also ensure efficient production.

Flexibility: The ‘physical distance’ norm insisted during Covid-19 necessitated organisations to reduce the number of employees attending work during every shift. The managements switched to innovative practices like alternate day attendance, allowed a few who can work online to work from home and also opted for hybrid model which mixed physical attendance and online support alternately. The flexibility in working hours and shifts led to employee satisfaction and improved production.

Upskilling: During the pandemic, remote working and digitalization of the business operations emerged to be the need of the hour. In tune with the demand, organisations had to upskill their workforce as per the requirement. Designing ways to improve the virtual ways of working remained to be the priority of the organisations which needed conducting live video sessions, providing social-sharing tools to train the employees in digital, cognitive, emotional and adaptability skills.

In fact, the industry leaders were of the opinion that the workforce will have to acquire a new skillset by 2030 when automation and artificial intelligence would disrupt jobs. However, the pandemic had pushed this need much earlier.

Wellness: The pandemic showed newer areas of focus for the organisations which opined that their task of employee welfare ended with a pay hike.

Covid-19 made the managements understand that wellness of employees also mattered for improved and efficient production of goods and services. The highly infectious virus set the priorities right and organisations focused on protecting and safeguarding the health of the employees. To ensure employee wellness, yoga session and classes on mental wellbeing were organised online. At the same time, social gatherings were replaced by virtual get-togethers to develop a sense of belongingness among the employees and also with the organization.

Business leaders were of the opinion that the new norms adapted by the organisations during the pandemic had to be replaced with the old practices once the crisis recedes but in fact, the new work culture was found to be a blueprint which could be continued for a long term. They believe that the new skillset acquired by the employees and transformed business operations would certainly keep the industry ready to face any crisis or disruption in the future.

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