1. What are we heading for?
Since March 2020 the world is under the rule of pandemic. That means staying home, wearing mask, washing hands and feet every now and then, disinfecting yourself, your clothes, your guests, and abiding by many others health rules prescribed by WHO and your government. In my company in Noida, Kolkata and US locations, people are largely working from home and after nearly a year got more or less accustomed to the WFH mode. There were initial fears and hiccups aplenty, still young software engineers complain about loss of human or peer contact, boredom of staying home like a bird in a cage, but the delivery to the clients have not failed for a moment or a day, no escalation happened due to WFH. Of course, during a local storm called Amphan in Kolkata a few months back, many people had to come to office to work since many localities lost their power and internet network for one to two weeks’ time. In short this is the situation the world over. The question that hangs on our minds is that, where are we heading for? Shall we get back to our normal mode of operating hour based office again, after vaccines are successfully used and tested, or there will be more surprises to come?
2. Work From Anywhere
This would be incredible or absurd to think of such a concept before 22 March 2020 isn’t it! Today we are living in a “brave new world” – borrowing from Aldous Huxley – and we are not scared of adventures and new ideas. If you have your tools and infrastructures in place, at least in IT you can work from anywhere in the world, and this is acceptable for any domain of knowledge industry. You can work from town or village, seaside or hilltop, the office becomes portable and dynamic, flexible and “smart”. There are tools to monitor, track, collaborate with individual workers from the end of managers or clients. Of course, the “new normal” is a term which has the seed of change into it, the future will evolve as the business needs are stitched along with the situation of pandemic, which is still far from abetted, despite recent vaccines and optimism in some quarters, many MNCs are seriously planning downsizing of physical infrastructure and office space, new rules and practices are evolving according to client needs.
3. More digital, more online:
The cry from the beginning of the lockdown has been “more digital, more online”. It is one of the most visible and important outcomes of the “new normal”. Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Meet and a whole bunch of connecting modes are there to help us tide the storm. This is helping to reduce the digital divide, empowering people in many sections and domains in new communication modes, promoting mobile and digital connect across classes, genders, social strata. This is a revolutionary impact of the pandemic on the whole world. This is fueling the growth of three important, AI & BI ( Artificial and business intelligence ), Smart life and IoT ( Internet of things ). Pharma and clinical labs are working overtime to create, hone, improve effective vaccines. Similarly,information technology R&D centers are pouring over creating new ways of understanding and connect, defeating physical distance and even time by bringing out new unique solutions to the pandemic challenges. These solutions will indeed long overstay the pandemic, changing pre-pandemic world and workplace into a completely new identity.
4. What are we looking for?
We are looking for a world free of pandemic where both work and social life may flourish in a collective manner. This longing is going to be met or helped by AI, BI, IoT and Smart technology. The price we pay for this is the anxiety of health and job cuts, salary reductions, loss of lives of some friends and relatives, a pain resulting from enforced isolation and social distancing all over the world. The economy took a long and steep dip from February 2020 and is still under the clouds but there are signs of recovery both in India and the global markets. 2021 is predicted by market experts and economists to be a significantly better year which will probably witness a new beginning, seeing a horizon of knowledge and industry which had not been imagined by us till 2020.
5. The new Human Resource Management
The writing on the wall is – farewell old, conventional employee management and employee relation and replace it with a new one, like replacing a cart drawn by bulls or horses by a supersonic jet. Yes, the change may very well be that much dramatic. We may not realize this impact or the implication of the new era in 2021 itself but I have no doubt we will see positive signs of the stage turning, new trends emerging, disturbing the status quo, upsetting the stagnant, starting a trickle which probable become a flood of new experiences in 2022-23. We are on the brink of a new era, and we must prepare ourselves for it.
The new era employee has to be someone who not only leverages new technologies but is a person who takes complete responsibility for whatever he produces. He will be A+, he will have to be equal to the needs of the new growth engine. Managers will be replaced by Leaders. Employees will be self-driven and need not be managed. The remote workforce will be norm. HRM and management will not monitor and supervise him, but rather will get from him innovative ideas and a partnership. The new workplace will be – independent of location – something where there is no clear cut demarcation between employee and manager, both will sync up in win win and both will function as stakeholder in client satisfaction and revenue earning.
I just tried to give you an outline of what strikes me as a probable future after pandemic, I may like to answer if you have any thoughts or reactions to this little article in this publication. Wishing you a very good 2021.
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