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

Working Businessman

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

The future of work was already being redefined by 2 major forces viz. emerging Technologies and changing Workforce demographics with many visible changes in the design and delivery of work processes through rapid automation and broad adoption of cognitive technologies like AI/IoT/ML etc. The recent Covid 19 pandemic has undoubtedly emerged as yet another major disruption and given its far reaching social, psychological and financial impacts, it has the potential to reconfigure work and the workforce of the future in many different ways. The workforce of the future should therefore be envisioned in the context of these major disruptive forces. A peek into the composition of this workforce could look something like this:

  • Far higher share of workers who are off balance sheet to complement the retained/permanent workforce. These could include freelancers, work from home talent, temp workers etc all of which will truly accelerate the growth of the Gig economy
  • Usage of virtual communities that come together for specialised programs and projects needing very specific problem solving skill sets
  • A much more distributed workforce i.e. not confined to a single physical location or office premises
  • A workforce that quickly learns to work independently while collaborating virtually

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

Given the nature of this pandemic which is characterised by community transmission and its implications on workplaces in terms of ensuring strict social distancing, hygiene practices, addressing psychological well-being of talent and virtual ways of working etc some of the practices that we have followed thus far to ensure the safety of our employees and continuity of business are likely to remain front and centre for extended periods and contribute towards shaping the new normal. These will include – remote working for at least a part of the workforce even after resumption of work, complete reconfiguration of the workplace logistics, no/very limited travel, greater investments in innovative collaboration tools and enterprise technologies, all major external/large scale events with client, employees and communities either being postponed or conducted virtually. Some of the immediate challenges for HR and employees in the new normal are as follows:

For HR

  • Ensuring that remote working practices are clearly understood and adopted with appropriate enablers in place i.e. tech platforms, training and communication
  • Maintaining similar or better levels of employee engagement, productivity and top talent retention in the new normal
  • Positioning employee well being more centrally in the people agenda
  • Supporting the business stand back on its feet and seizing newer opportunities while simultaneously embedding the culture shifts needed to thrive in the new normal

For Employees

  • Placing the interest of their organisation above other considerations
  • Adapting quickly to new ways of remote working
  • Being open to reskilling/retooling for continued relevance and value creation. Learning to learn will be key for success
  • Effectively managing their own stress and that of their co workers

How can leaders strategise a way forward in these trying times?

Covid 19 is an unprecedented humanitarian challenge which has pushed individuals and businesses alike into completely uncharted territories. Navigating this crisis successfully and seizing the opportunities it presents to emerge stronger could well be the difference between Good and Great companies of the future. None of us have ever experienced an event like this in our lifetime and for the HR practitioner community in particular, helping to define what success could look like is vitally important. An interesting comparison that I came across suggested that while the global financial crisis of 2008 was a CFO challenge, Covid 19 is a CHRO challenge!!

The views are that of Amit Vaish, Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Kotak Life. He will be speaking at The Economic Times Workforce of the Future Summit, where the evolving nature of the workplace, and the evolving nature of work amid the continuing march of technology, AI, and automation, and more will be closely analyzed.  To know more, click here.

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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