Covid’s impact on the corporate landscape

What according to you, will the Workforce of Future look like?

While the COVID-19 outbreak has necessitated the need to maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene and social distancing, at the same time it has undeniably changed the standard methods of working for employers and employees across the globe. The lockdown has compelled organizations to adapt to new ways of working/business, which we think will be the new normal. This recently evolved need for remote working may lead to more investment being directed towards such setup, and training of the employees for this may be the norm. We believe that this trend will slowly redefine the workplace and there will be an acceleration in the adoption of fully digitized approaches to re-create the best of in-person learning through live video and social sharing.

Remote working comes with its own challenges, ushering varied emotions each day. We might feel anxious, or overwhelmed, or confused, or lonely or maybe just all of them at the same time. A few things which have helped us in our routines are staying connected, leaning-in to our colleagues, friends and family, sharing and opening-up on how we are feeling, and reaching out for support & guidance. It has, therefore, reinforced the need for emotional and psychological well-being.

When we look at the workplaces post-pandemic, what will the new normal resemble? What are top of the mind issues/priorities for key stakeholders – HR and employees? 

The COVID-19 pandemic is often described as a “once in a lifetime crisis”. From removing close contact scenarios to organizing health awareness initiatives, reducing travel stress for employees to learning new technology tools to support productivity, budgeting for the required resources and its management, will now be some of the most crucial tasks – that each organization will start planning and working in the post-pandemic era.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we at Coca-Cola have focused extensively on reinforcing the health, safety, and wellbeing of our Associates. This includes interventions ranging from modernizing our HR policies – to support flexible working; to creating targeted initiatives around driving purposeful engagement. Remote working is a whole new challenge and now a new normal means new way of managing teams, building engagements, measuring productivity, tracking outcomes, and addressing challenges in collaboration and technology.

For us, early adoption of regular & transparent communications and outreach have played a pivotal role in building a sense of wellbeing, psychological safety, and positivity amidst all the uncertainties and it has also kept us all together. Summary of our key initiatives in this space is summarized as below:

 #stayrelevant, #stayconnected, #staytogether: Sustaining momentum and keeping spirits alive

  • Adopted a much more inclusive approach to reinforce confidence – to keep Associates informed and updated on macro business, environment and community initiatives
  • Created channels for daily team check-ins and 1-on-1 connect with HR to identify differentiated needs and provide a networked community to support one & all
  • Reinforced regular manager connect to provide clarity on emerging priorities, structure and celebrate progress amidst the uncertainty
  • Curated resources, materials and platform to promote wholistic mindfulness – physical, emotional, mental and financial
  • Access to personal sessions to reinforce well-being and address medical concerns through the Employee Assistance Program
  • Interesting and interactive – work from home schedule to create a balance between work, fun and well-being with daily check-ins and identification of Associates & family members with differentiated needs across the organization

What has been your experience with digitization, AI & Robotics in HR? Is India ready for such a huge transformation?

COVID-19 has thrown a daunting yet pertinent challenge upon the corporate landscape – an expedited digital transformation timeline for all, irrespective of their current capabilities. With technology being rapidly integrated into every facet of our lives, we will step into a completely new digital landscape post-COVID-19 with technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Robotics, IoT dominating our daily working lives.

At Coca-Cola, we are continually evolving ourselves to adapt and be available for our employees in every way possible. Leading & adapting to change is at the core of how we operate and therefore our associates are brain-wired with key tenets of agility. During this unprecedented phase, we have piloted and reinforces several initiatives, some of which are listed below:

#staycurious, #stayrefreshed: Leverage Digital platforms for continued learning

  • PowerHour Series for collective learning on key concepts and practices, aimed at strengthening cross-functional awareness and Leadership capabilities
  • Red Talk Series with speakers from varied professional spaces, for re-igniting an outside-in perspective to our Associates. This encourages us to engage with new ideas and approaches that can help us both personally and professionally.
  • Digital learning and byte-sized capsules to promote on the go learning via Linkedin Learning & Coca-Cola university platforms

We are going through trying times and an unprecedented situation for humanity in many ways. It is a crucial time for the businesses and need of the hour is to understand the challenges and cull out an agile & continuous learning mindset to ensure steps are taken to effectively adjust to the circumstances at hand.

Nishi Kulshreshtha Chaturvedi is Head- Human Resources, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia. She leads talent recruitment and advancement, performance enablement, and leadership development functions for the company in India and Southwest Asia. Nishi has 20 plus years of work experience in Human Resources across FMCG, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, and Energy sectors working with Schneider Electric, Cairn Energy and Baxter Healthcare prior to Coca-Cola.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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