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Flexibility : The future of work

Enterprises are now aware that business continuity can be ascertained only through an asset-light model where employees are afforded the flexibility to design their remote-work schedules

Published: Jan 8, 2021 11:59:43 AM IST
Updated: Jan 8, 2021 12:08:23 PM IST

Image: Shutterstock

Can you believe we survived seven months of lockdown! – This is a common comment I receive during my interactions off late. Billions of people managed to make it through the disruption caused by Covid19 pandemic - converting one’s once private abode into office cubicles, lecture halls, fitness clubs and opening up for scrutiny one’s home environment during virtual conferences. Many less fortunate had the added challenge of losing their jobs. In many ways, Covid hastened the unthinkable – normalized remote work, improved employer-employee relation, and individualized a social animal.

Flexible working hours: In a way, the Covid challenge has motivated people to relate their job purpose to a higher call of duty. Companies seem to be convinced on the idea of work from home. Furthermore, they are sensitive to their employee’s inability to clearly separate work life from family life. Thus giving rise to the idea of working flexible hours. We are now moving towards an outcome based agile KRA model instead of the passive activity based model. Companies must offer all assistance in order to maintain employee well-being (physical & mental) and avoid burnout.

Hybrid Model: While Covid forced ‘work from home’ upon scores of professionals, surprisingly it has bode well for the companies. In fact work from home has actually improved productivity in many companies. On-site employee requirements are getting scrutinized. In order to accommodate only the essential staff and optimize costs, physical presence of employees will become more fluid in nature. Organizations are trying out various models on accommodating only those workers on floor who are physically required while remaining workforce can log-in remotely. Of course, regular team meetings whether virtual or physical should be organized to facilitate employee engagement. But if trends are to be believed, companies may very well have accepted the practicality of the fluid workspaces model.

Gig Economy: From fluid workplaces, let us consider the idea of fluid workforce. While many organizations have frozen recruitment, they can move to a fluid workforce model. Herein, one can hire services of freelancers, contractual workers and even consumers. Such hires are not permanent recruits with their cost-to-company being lower and more justifiable in current times. With professionals waking up to uncertain times, they may not be wrong in wanting to work across multiple projects from different contractors. While the professional world pivots towards an investment-intensive existence, Gig Economy may finally breathe into life in India.

Re-skilling: With unemployment rate expected to remain high for next few months, companies should look to reskill their workforce rather. It will not be wise to lose one’s investments in HR by doling out pink-slips left, right and center. With businesses increasingly warming up to automation, big data & Internet of Things; we are at the cusp of another digital revolution. It will be a shame to not prepare one’s workforce for the upcoming challenges. In these uncertain times, workers themselves have become more aware of the importance to improve their profiles through online certifications and eLearning modules. Thus, it is necessary to empower employees to re-skill themselves in order to stay relevant in a fast-changing world.

Though we are unclear about the availability of a vaccine, companies are getting more immune to the disruptions caused by Covid. Enterprises are now aware that business continuity can be ascertained only through an asset-light model where employees are afforded the flexibility to design their remote-work schedules. We will witness an increased investment in aspects like data security and other technological arenas while real estate investments by organization could see a steep decline.

Author is Country Manager at EDHEC Business School and can be reached out at nilesh.gaikwad@edhec.edu.