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Redefining Work Culture in Covid Era

WebdeskAug 02, 2021, 01:49 PM IST

Redefining Work Culture in Covid Era

 Stuti Sardana


As COVID-19 continues to create havoc across the nation and the world, businesses are trying to stay productive in the face of unprecedented challenges. Managing staff procedures, increasing or decreasing headcount and maintaining workloads has become a remote process for many businesses as they look to protect their workers, customers and the public


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about major changes in work culture. It is not just the business pressure caused by the uncertainty. At a fundamental level, it has transformed the way we work. The concept of the workplace itself has evolved so quickly that even the most traditional firms have had to adapt to the changing trends in order to survive. The rapidity of these changes is a problem. Organisational culture is defined by the collective norms of behaviour exhibited by individuals within an organisation. Generally, workplace culture does not change very much or very fast. Rather it adjusts slowly, over a long period of time in response to an accumulation of multiple small encouragements and the occasional epiphany. But the Covid era will always be remembered as a tremendous exception to this.


Work from Home is a New Normal


The COVID-19 pandemic has had tremendous and swift effects on workplace culture. The global lockdown and travel bans have upended assumptions about the nature of work and corporate interactions. People have discovered that they don’t have to be in an office, that they can get most things done remotely. They do not need to commute to work. Others have gone from jet-set to home-bound with little effect on their business. This provides organisations with more lead time to work through issues related to post-pandemic work and the workplace, including their remote work strategy and workplace redesign.


A silver lining of the pandemic is that it has forced the rapid and widespread adoption of remote work practices that otherwise would likely have taken years or even decades to unfold. Companies are therefore well positioned to implement remote work practices quickly in the post-pandemic environment.


The past year, work has been tougher than it has ever been – both for those who moved online at home and for those who continued to step out of the house. Remote work is hard; working with people we have never met in person. Around the globe, people have been onboarded, transferred, and promoted; all while being on video calls and emails. Productivity dipped in phases, mental health took a toll, and work culture during Covid became harder to sustain. Companies have realised that this concept of work from home is a drastic cost saver for them.


Flexible Work Environment


Following the pandemic, a large-scale workforce shifted their work to remote locations, and employees ditched their commutes and large office spaces and switched to working from their homes. The corporate culture faced casualty as companies lost their tangible aspect of business. Starting from the perks that the companies offered (free coffee, restrooms, gyms) to socialised meetings, the corporate world lost it all. However, companies need to brace themselves, as the post Covid era will be the new normal.


For decades, 9 to 5 has been the official norm of work. This rigid structure changed in the COVID-19 era as companies gave up unnecessary meetings and office timings. Looking at this from an employee’s perspective, they are now allowed to make flexible choices about the working conditions, and they can get their work-life balance on track. Businesses who will be able to adapt to this new model of corporate culture will definitely gain a competitive advantage in the industry as they will be able to maintain agility in the organisation along with the spirit of teamwork.


Getting ready early in the morning, finishing household chores, rushing towards work, cutting through heavy traffic and overloaded public transports, have become the less seen practice now.


Employees Becoming Tech-Savvy


The accelerated adoption of digital tools has emerged as the need of the pandemic hour. Certainly most professional jobs can be done remotely, with the help of technology. Modern collaborative technologies — video conferencing, screen-sharing, digital shared file storage, simultaneous multi-authoring of documents, digital whiteboards, smartphone chat groups — are freely available at the ease of user. Organisations have dropped the dogma and comfort of face-to-face. The focus is shifting towards technology and virtual activities have become the new trend these days.


One of the most important takeaways from the pandemic is that it has served as a catalyst for cultural transformation. For example, companies have witnessed an increase in trust, a flattening of hierarchies, and more rapid and agile decision-making. The companies that will be most successful in the transition from the pandemic to the post-pandemic workplace will be those that find ways to sustain these cultural benefits and avoid a “cultural retreat.”


Companies will continue to need a workforce that is diverse in terms of skills, abilities, traits and qualities. The key will be to determine which model of work is the best fit for a particular employee so they are able to fully express their unique talents.


Video Conferencing the In-Thing


In the past, many companies adopted video conferences only in the preliminary stages of hiring, usually to screen large numbers of candidates before bringing in their shortlist candidates for in-person interviews. However, since the pandemic and social isolation started, businesses have had to manage the whole process, from initial interview to final offer. The benefit is that hires can include more geographically dispersed teams. Video can also work to build relationships and evaluate people, including their own skills at adapting to the new remote workplace. In short, Skype, Zoom, and even WhatsApp interviews are here to stay and have to be made a part of our routines.


Last year was tough on recruiters. The pandemic and its repercussions devastated some talent acquisition teams, heaped new demands on others, and proved to be a historic change agent as virtually recruiting and onboarding a remote workforce became the norm for many. More companies will adopt virtual recruiting technologies; shift talent attraction efforts to remote candidates; consider internal talent pools; and focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The best recruiters will take the opportunity to add new skills, adapt as needed and show their value to the organization.



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Delivery boys are important manpower for online food providers


Challenge to Stay Productive


As COVID-19 continues to sweep the nation and the world, businesses are looking for ways to stay productive in the face of unprecedented challenges. Managing staff procedures, increasing or decreasing headcount, and maintaining workloads has become a remote process for many businesses as they look to protect their workers, their customers and the public.


The pandemic has shifted a major sector of the workforce in ways we hadn’t anticipated. For organisations that are able, recommended social distancing measures have made remote work the new norm. Staff members are transforming living rooms into workspaces, often simultaneously managing children and personal obligations. Businesses are facing difficult decisions about how to adapt and survive this seismic shift, and hiring practices have changed overnight.


While some industries are being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, others are ramping up hiring to meet demand. Healthcare providers may be the largest sectors looking to increase staffing levels as systems prepare for worst-case scenarios already being seen or anticipated. And as people turn to online shopping, delivery drivers, warehousing and distribution are also hiring at scale. Essential retailers who remain open during the pandemic, like grocers, pharmacies and online food providers are hiring at scale to meet demand. In addition to maintaining staffing levels, many are rapidly increasing headcount to allow for more downtime or flexible schedules for staff members.


The travel, restaurant and hospitality industries are among the most hard-hit by the virus. From international hotel and restaurant chains, to airlines and the local family-run restaurant, the pandemic is forcing layoffs around the world. Entertainment Venues have also seen a huge impact because of the virus. Considered non-essential, most have shuttered their doors during the outbreak. All these sectors had no other option but to downsize the staffing. In order to decrease their headcount, these sectors laid off many jobs, which make this workforce easily available in the market.


Emerging Workforce in Pandemic


Healthcare Staff: Doctors, Nurses, Lab Technicians, Clinical Pharmacists have been in the highest ever demand, because healthcare has been the only sector that boosted up because of Covid.


Pharmacy and Medical Devices Workforce: Whether it is manufacturing of the medicines, medical devices and vaccines, or the distribution and selling of the same, manpower related to Pharmacy has been high in demand. This has been the second most benefited sector in the pandemic.


IT Professionals: Buoyed by the increasing demand, the IT sector/Software Services sector has grown significantly in pandemic and are at an all time high. With the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, Indian organisations have been relying heavily on digitisation in order to sustain and overcome business challenges. Whether it is home based entertainment through OTT, Digitalisation of Banking, Apps and Online platforms required for Digital office space and education setups, IT people steal the show with their efficient inputs and helped the laymen to sustain this pandemic.


Delivery Boys


For E-commerce set ups, online grocers and online food providers, the most important manpower has been their delivery boys, without whom, their business has no meaning in this pandemic. E-commerce has been the fourth most benefitted sector in the pandemic, because of Stay at Home concept.


Tutors and Coaching Mentors


Because of the new concept of E-learning, students have stopped going to schools and colleges. This has boosted up the demand of E-learning tutors and coaches, who are required to counsel and teach the students in a smaller group size so that the individual focus can be increased. This has been the fifth most benefited sector in the pandemic.


Overall, the new digital culture has allowed companies to move from an office-based delivery culture to an anyplace delivery culture. Businesses have used recent months to figure out how flexible they can be at delivering products and services, often coming up with innovations that will far outlast the pandemic. Companies have adopted the best of rewarding strategies to retain their critical workforce. This dynamic is about more than remote working, or the role of automation. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era. 




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