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

Future workplace_1

In these times of COVID-19, to protect ourselves and our families from the virus is the foremost priority, a reality we now have to deal with. However, an additional priority is to ensure the survival of businesses and their continuity, to keep incomes and jobs protected.

With the fight against COVID-19 nowhere closer to ending, it has become necessary that we embrace this “new normal” in the way our society is organized and the way we will work hereafter.

As we make attempt to return and resume work, our policies and legislative frameworks need to uphold a human-centered approach that puts peoples’ rights at the heart of economic, social, and environmental policies. At the same time, enterprises can sustain productivity, only if the workers feel safe at their workplaces, from the direct risks related to COVID-19, and the indirect risks such as psychosocial and ergonomic risks. While technology is helping some to continue work, it needs workers to be equipped with required tools including digital skills.

This re-organization of modalities for carrying out economic activities in the new normal, yet again draws in the importance of ‘Social Dialogue’. This practice brings together government, workers’ and employers’ organizations in formulating policies that reflect the world of work realities. In times of crisis, only this process can build much-needed trust for safe return to work.

Developing assurance of being protected in work and adopting flexible work modalities will determine the sustenance of enterprises and should be the priority for HR Managers. ILO’s guidance note on a safe and healthy return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and  10-point, Practical Guidance action checklist for employers and workers, could be handy for employers in planning safe return of employees.

With the advent of technology, the future of work was already witnessing unprecedented changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has further pressed for the adoption of IT solutions at workplaces.  Looking at the critical nature of these challenges, the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work adapted in June 2019, calls for a ‘human-centered approach’ to the future of work. It is an agenda that recognizes that human welfare and leaving no one behind, have to be the ultimate aim of all public policies. The Declaration essentially points to three critical areas of investment:

    • Investing in people’s capabilities
    • Investing in the institutions of work
    • Investing in decent and sustainable work

 About the Author

Dagmar  Walter,  a  Swedish-Swiss  national, was  appointed  Director  of the International Labour Organisation  Decent  Work Technical Support Team for South Asia and Country Office for India as of 22 February 2018. Prior  to  her  ILO  career,  Ms  Walter  worked  with  international  development  and  human  rights, primarily  for  the  International  Federation  of  Terre  des  Hommes  and  Amnesty  International, as Consultant and Deputy Representative to the various UN human rights bodies in Geneva.

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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