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BW Businessworld

Human Connection Top Priority In Digital Workplaces

As the nature of work changes, reskilling will become a crucial priority. More importantly, leaders are required to relook and reshape how to help keep human connection a priority in an increasingly digital workplace

Photo Credit : ShutterStock

Today, the workforce is witnessing a fascinating transformation, fundamental changes to the way people live and work. This combination of development in the work model incorporating technology and behavioural changes toward work is confronting the conventional management strategies. Business leaders and CHROs are required to infuse the culture of ‘smart working’ or ‘agile working’ to get the best results.

The last year’s major transformations reinforced the need to upskill and relearn like never before. A recent survey by PwC has reflected that 40 per cent of workers say their digital skills have been improved and claim they will continue to embrace training and skill development. Around 77 per cent are ready to learn new skills or completely re-train themselves. Nearly 74 per cent see training as a matter of personal responsibility and 80 per cent are confident that they can adapt to new technologies entering back to their workplaces.

Hybridisation Of Workplaces

Will the employees rejoice or would be sceptical to be in-person post-pandemic? How would employees react if the choice of work from home would be given to them? Let’s dig deeper to know the outlook of the future of work. “After experiencing a year of successful work from home, employers and employees equally do not believe that it is important to be in physical office space to be productive and successful at work.” Says Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer, Randstad India.

Interestingly, on the plus side, there is more freedom, more flexible hours of working, and no morning office commute. But on the minus side, lack of human interactions, more distractions at home, and much digital fatigue. Organisations are up to remodel the office space in order to offer a safer, healthier, less-rigid, and collaborative workplace. More women workforce has contended with flexible work opportunities as they are able to give valuable time to their homes as well.

CHROs and leaders from across the industries have strongly indicated that certainly, the future of work would be hybrid. McKinsey's report on Future of Work 2021 reveals that about 20 to 25 per cent of the workforce in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week.

Job Market Trends

The recent major shift from conventional to digital has propelled growth in jobs like delivery, warehouse, IT, healthcare, insurance but severely impacted the jobs in hospitality, travelling, tourism. A recent prediction states that IT companies are set to slash three million jobs by 2022 due to automation, to save $100 billion in cost. The major job losses during the pandemic were concentrated in the middle-waged occupations showing a continuous rise in automation and high-wage jobs. According to the McKinsey's Future of Work 2021 report, across the eight focus countries, more than 100 million workers; 1 in 16 employees will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in the post-Covid-19 scenario.

Going forward, these are some areas and skills that have been listed as the demand areas; frontline e-commerce workers, business development, sale professionals, digital marketing experts, digital content creators, education professionals, mental health specialists, Cybersecurity professionals, and more.

CHROs In Spotlight

The recent outbreak has given the power, voice, and influence to CHROs like never before to be able to navigate the organization through these unprecedented people challenges. HR leaders have gotten the opportunity to prove themselves to the business stakeholders and the executive team helping to direct their organization through this widespread uncertainty.

“Yes, adoption of technology has made it easier for recruitment professionals as they proactively lead the digital transition for their companies. Yet HR practitioners should supplement digital with an occasional personal touch in their own unique way,” asserts R Nanda, CHRO, Tata Chemicals. Adding to it further Nanda mentions that it is important to hire the right people & the recruitment team has the responsibility to find candidates with the right skillsets as per the requirements even in the face of constant challenges.

CHROs from different industries during the panel discussions and keynotes have indicated that agility and adaptability are new-age drivers of change. Throughout the pandemic, they have had to act with utmost agility, resilience, flexibility, and swiftness to address the challenges. Being people leaders; HRs not only addressed people issues rather embraced the opportunity to act as a conductor to collaborate with other functions with a holistic view in order to make things happen with the least hassle.

Strategizing Ahead

The pandemic has surely changed the way Human Resources functions today and demands Chief people officers to become ‘Chief Hope Officers’ or ‘Chief Empathy officers’. “A year ago, organisations were forced to adopt new technologies across the gamut of key HR processes in order to harness the potential of their resources critical for their growth and competitiveness,” adds R. Nanda. The future of the workplace will value the relevance of experience over mere qualification - the value created by an individual in his experience will be most critical for hiring. “Competencies like resilience, emotional intelligence, creativity, collaboration, and agility will be valued and sought after,” mentions Raghuvanshi while sharing her thoughts on the way forward. The biggest learning is that the future can be anything. Business leaders and especially people leaders are expected to be ready to face any kind of disruption and make a plan of its own.