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BW Businessworld

The Digital Workplace in the Post-Pandemic Era

Working from home during the pandemic continues to be a challenge even today.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has witnessed the world grappling with a crisis like never before. Governments were compelled to enforce complete lockdowns and social distancing norms, which disrupted every aspect of human life. Enterprises around the world were sent clambering for business process continuity and there was a unanimous clarion call for remote work. Even then, some sectors such as retail, manufacturing and healthcare could not implement remote working in its entirety and had to operate under the confines of the social-distancing directives. 

The struggles of remote work

Working from home during the pandemic continues to be a challenge even today. 

With the dissolution of the boundaries between what is professional and personal, employees are battling to find work-life balance - managing tasks at home, taking care of dependents, parenting and focusing on work all at the same time. This is leading to an increase in employee stress levels and potential burn out.

While some organizations are struggling to provide last-mile computing support, internet bandwidth issues and in some cases, lack of proper collaboration tools or intermittent electric supply are adding to the factors that affect employee productivity and their ability to work towards deadlines.

Among employees in non-technical industries - the education sector for instance, adapting to a new set of technologies are proving to be arduous for the users. Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers need more time to acclimatize themselves with remote working technologies.

Lack of personal connections with co-workers, physical meetings and interactions are making people feel lonely and isolated and giving rise to mental health issues.

Besides, new hires, in the absence of physical introductions and co-location, are feeling a disconnect with their teams.

Embracing a digitized workplace in the new normal

Months into the pandemic crisis, organizations have finally embraced the reality of remote working. Some have quickly upended their technologies while others have found alternative ways of working. The pandemic has been a test for the productivity and efficacy of remote working. Industry leaders have realized that best-in-class collaboration and workplace tools can help remote workers be as productive as they were in office.

Adopting a dynamic, hybrid workplace with a mix of on-premise and remote workers will open up new avenues for organizations to attract talent across geographies. With the help of digital tools that aid remote working, organizations can look at reducing real-estate costs. 

The pandemic has forced organizations to move from legacy tools and technology to new technologies and ways of working. For instance -

Creating a “human-centric” employee experience -

Even as organizations rolled out new digital technologies, user adoption has been considerably slow. There are multiple reasons attributing to this such as the high complexity of these new technologies, scarcity of training resources and of course, employee proficiency. Employee experience has thus arisen as a critical factor for productive functioning of organizations. 

Historically, organizations have focused more on functionality and less on experience for employee applications. This is what needs to change. Designing applications while keeping them human-centric and digital-native like Uber and Airbnb have done, will not only ensure higher levels of adoption but also see a rise in employee productivity.

The pandemic also had a huge impact on every individual’s mental health. Fear of losing jobs, unprecedented workloads, isolation, and anxiety about the coronavirus has left a flurry of stressed-out employees in its wake who are trying different ways to cope with it. Organizations that are leveraging digital tools should identify mechanisms to help employees build social relationships to combat stress and loneliness. They need to come up with support programs and strategies to help employees cope – like generating ideas from within employee groups on what could help them balance out the stress from the current working model. Investing in productivity and wellbeing monitoring tools such as Microsoft Workplace Analytics, and reassessing employee benefit programs can go a long way in mitigating these challenges. 

With the infrastructure for remote working rolled out at scale because of the crisis, there would be an exponential increase in digital nomads in the post-pandemic world. It is critical for organizations to gear up and provide human-centric digital workplace experiences for employees to make the most of on-premise capabilities and remote workers. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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infosys digital workplace

Rajesh Varrier

The Author is the Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Experience & Microsoft Business at Infosys

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