2020 has been all about change. Embracing the unexpected and adapting to move in tune with time. As the entire world of work dealt with the repercussions of COVID-19 outbreak and faced one of the greatest challenge ever, there were several lessons learnt.
The pandemic taught us how technology can actually hold us together and benefit us but not without being human. Working from home is not just a benefit but it can be the way of working. Being in the office has nothing to do with the employees’ productivity. With the right passion to work and sufficient resources in place, work can be done from anywhere.
The global health crisis also reinforced the importance of investing in employees’ well-being. It reiterated people as asset and people leaders as most critical to business.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the key workplace lessons from 2020 which we shall take along with us for many years to come:
1.The benefits of remote working
Work from anywhere! Save travel time, work at your own pace with less distraction. We sure missed those coffee and smoke breaks, we may have also missed the metro or car rides to work but most the workforce is enjoying working from home .In the initial phases, many working professionals did face some challenges, especially the ones with children or elders to take care of. But eventually most of the working professionals adjusted to the new way of working and now it seems it may be tough to go back to old ways of working.
While there was a time that leaders felt working from negatively impacts productivity, the pandemic came along and busted the myth. Interestingly, most of the polls and surveys highlighted how productivity has gone up during the pandemic. In fact many companies like TCS amid the pandemic decided that some of their functions can permanently become remote.
Let’s see how this trend of remote working stays on for 2021 and beyond.
2. There is no room for rigid policies: Agility is key
The goals were set. The blueprint was ready. But the pandemic arm-twisted every leaders to relook at their business goals and priorities. There was not much time for long meetings and discussions, the decisions had to be made at a much faster pace.2020 taught all professionals across sectors that the best policy is to move in tune with time. Agility and adaptability have become key competencies employees and even the company culture must hold.
With this lesson in mind, working professionals would be more prepared for any black swan event to arrive in the future.
3.Trust is core to organization’s culture
2020 required the decision making process to be quick. Employers could not monitor their employees. The face to face discussions were replaced by virtual calls which were often disrupted by bad network. This year urged all leaders to embrace trust and give more ownership to their employees. The trust that employees will do their important tasks and make the right decisions for business.
The year left no room for micromanagement and the leaders who realize it will be more successful in the years to come.
4.Technology is here to help us
Automation was a scary word. Technology was deeply criticized. But in 2020, technology held everyone together like a glue. It kept people closer and made possible the little business that could be done across the globe. Had it not been for technology and innovation, the business and work would have literally come to a standstill. Even traditional organizations which were not tech-savvy realized the benefits of technology and increasingly started to adapt it.
The rise of tech adoption is definite for 2021 and beyond.
5.Communication is key
Things were changing quite rapidly in the initial phases of the pandemic and there were new developments almost every day. Some Business leaders had even to take some tough decisions. In such difficult circumstances, communication became key.
Consistent communication with compassion and empathy became essential for businesses to continue business as usual, maintain employees’ trust and also ensure their health and well-being. 2020 taught us that no matter where all the employees are regular communication is of utmost importance to keep the culture and the bond intact. Communication also strengthens trust. It is also necessary to avoid any ambiguity and ensure that everyone always has a clear picture of where the business is headed.
6.Employees’ well-being is critical to business
The most important lesson of 2020 was that no business can survive and thrive in the long run, if it compromises with people’s health in the short term. Workplaces shut! New types of leaves like quarantine and wellness leaves introduced! Business leaders became more aware and considerate to employees’ well-being. The entire concept of well-being was already gaining importance, among the workplace but it was mostly restricted to zumba and yoga classes. The pandemic helped get a deeper understanding of how well-being goes beyond just a few initiatives. It is about investing in each moment that matters. It is about being more mindful in every conversation.
With more and more organisations investing in employee assistance programs and taking innovative approaches to enhance Employees’ well-being, many other new trends are sure to follow in the years to come.
7.The role of HR takes a center stage
2020 is being called the year of HR! And why not? Whether it was sailing through a crisis, adjusting to new changes, redeploying resources, ensuring employees’ safety and health, or changing work policies for the new reality of work, HR teams had a key role to play everywhere.
Now as 2020 shook the old ways of working and businesses now relook and rewrite the policies for the New Year, this is the prime time for HR to shine. The HR professionals have both the power and the responsibility to write a better future for work. Let’s see how that shapes up!