There were already speculations and subtle upheavals concerning the future of the workforce and the way works will be done. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic started, a fundamental shift was underway that upheld remote work. But now, for the next few months, this will be a test of the future of our white-collar jobs as thousands of IT employees are called for self-isolation.
Working remotely or from home is more or less a common happening in the USA or other countries with IT or tech-oriented jobs. However, it has been fully functional in every part of the world owing to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Tackling the Outbreak
In order to tackle the outbreak, the nation is now giving away work from home facility to the Chinese employees. Myriads of showrooms and outlets of global companies like Nike, GM, Walmart, have all been shut down. Tech giants like Facebook, Workday, are considering their paid-time-off policies and giving out cash bonuses for their employees to cope with the fallout.
Such is the time we are in right now. These are the things that major companies are doing to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. Working remotely being the prime shift, which has been incredibly escalated. This outbreak has already brought a significant change in work culture and will continue to bring a further paradigm shift in the global work culture. Although, if not for the virus, we all are heading to a future where jobs in the ‘offices’ would no longer be the assertion.
Also, it can indeed be said that this is an opportunity to test the efficiency, productivity and dedication of employees. And the current situation is a boon to the HRs and executives to help their companies navigate through this unprecedented circumstance. For the whole world, this is new. Events like this have never occurred before. So the better organized we are, regarding the new wave of work culture, the easier it will be to cope with.
Whether or not Coronavirus creates a lasting workplace change, one thing is for sure – that the remote work trend is here to stay. The current situation is an inflection point where it is just a matter of a few weeks that the way the world connects, lives and works, will change forever. As the work from home model is becoming more of the norm, work itself is getting more distributed. And technologies and solutions that were seldom used, are now coming to the forefront.
The Changing Face of the Global Work Culture
For the last 50 years, all of us have been trained on how to be productive in the office. But now that the scenario is different and has given way to the workplace of the future. To enable a digital workforce, companies and business owners must focus on virtual solutions and keep the work process running. Cloud servers like VMware is offering free trials of Workspace ONE while extending free trials of Horizon and VMware Cloud on AWS.
Several organizations have created their crisis management teams or committees to appease the employees and their queries regarding their health. These crisis management teams develop policies to safeguard the well-being of their employees and generate awareness and hygiene practices. As of now, most of the IT sectors and tech companies have requested their employees to work from home.
However, there has been a steady debate over the productivity and efficiency of the employees during this novel phase. And whether or not, this new wave of work culture will be followed after the outbreak is controlled, is still a question. Nonetheless, companies and HR managers can now see beyond the workplace culture and office banters, that employees can actually be more productive when they work remotely.
In China, which is a strict Communist country with no or less remote work options, employees are now hurdled to their homes and requested to do their official tasks indoor. In India, too, most of the IT companies and MNCs have taken their shot in declaring work from home with fast action. It is the only viable option now for both the business owners as well as the employees.
So honestly, it can be predicted that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought significant changes in the way we used to work. And of course, there has been an enormous paradigm shift in the overall White Collar jobs.
Was the New Trend Already in Process?
What we learn or do in the next few weeks or months, might have been inevitable since the advent of the personal computer, or when telecommunication got more potent than ever. Or when finally video conferencing became the norm. Just when Skype so drove the world, we cemented the future of our work culture. Thus, the seeds of a remote workplace had already been sowed. It’s just that the Coronavirus panic has triggered the trial run.
For many years, managers and business owners, IT and Tech gurus, Marketing Influencers were in the talks regarding a digital workforce. And with the advancement in the latest technologies, there had to be some change in the mode of work, by 2020.
So the digital workplace we were all dreaming about, might be this. The current situation, though not applicable to determine the future of work, is a groundbreaking revelation to that futuristic projection we envisioned. People will inevitably lean more on the video conferencing apps and tools. And we can already see a surge in demand for the apps like WeChat, DingTalk, Zoom, and other virtual apps, enabling seamless video calls.
These video conferencing provider companies have already seen their stock rise amidst the Coronavirus fear. This pandemic is a chance for managers to re-evaluate the company-employee relation and create a more feasible corporate culture. Interaction with actual people rather than clicking on their thumbnails definitely boosts creativity and thought processes. After all, we humans are “social animals” and need to actually “talk” to someone.
The Shift from the Traditional Office Environment is Challenging. Initially.
We are used to our colleagues or teammates sitting beside us and taking a few coffees or smoke breaks, and talking about here and there. That’s the inherent work culture that is implanted within us. Office gossips, corporate talks, silly jokes, these all comprise of the fundamental work culture we follow. And breaking from that norm all of a sudden on a continuous basis, might create some impediment in the initial days.
But we can surely get over that and adapt to the newness of working indoor. As we can see, the 21st- century economy has already reshaped retail, mass distribution, shopping, advertising, communication. It is now a matter of time that it will reshape work and management.
After all, working from one’s home means extended time with family and more time with oneself. So it is a sort of a win for the work-life balance as well as for individual productivity. Nevertheless, managers and employers who are still on the fence about the new work culture must understand some basics. For e.g., the remote form of work is indeed a different kind of work form altogether. Here things are virtual; and personal interactions, meetings, real-time supervision, are less.
How to make it Win-Win for Employers, HR Managers and Employees
That said, managers have to judge the productivity of the employees by monitoring and setting specific goals. Thanks to the virtual apps, e-meetings are easy. Through an inter-connected server, a whole bunch of employees can stay connected in real-time, without even being at office. There are tools that set proper task milestones. So by leveraging these tools, the corporate honchos can well keep a virtual “eye” on their employees.
At the same time, employees must also show dedication and conscience while working indoor, document every work they do, timely report generation. This will empower the team leaders to know what’s going on “down the hall”. These new habits will take some time to sink in, but it will happen eventually. With tracking tools and software available, working from home is here to stay.
The Growing Surge in Online Recruitment and Remote Hiring Process
This outbreak has spurred remote hiring and online recruitment processes. As the pandemic continues to grip all the sectors across the world, some companies have totally frozen their hiring process. But many others have shifted to online recruitment and remote hiring in a bid to stop the business slowdown.
Tech hotshots like Amazon, Google, PageGroup, Facebook, Robert Walters, all have moved to online job interviews during the duration of the outbreak. Most of those interviews have been moved to telephonic or video calls.
Virtual platforms and screening environments are leveraged to conduct the interviews, and these intelligent automated systems empower the HR managers and recruiters to run a seamless recruitment process.
Thus, in an attempt to reduce the long-lasting and adverse impact on the global economy, and to make things win-win for HRs, employees and employers, online assessment platforms have lent their much support.
Though some may complain about loneliness, the moment they understand the time and money they can save by avoiding commutes, remote work culture will gain further popularity. Determining the current time of crisis as a turning point might not be appropriate, when thousands of people are in constant quarantine and economies have shut down. But work from home or digital workplace is that considerable shift, which has been pre-determined.
So whether or not we are ready to accept the change, the change is inevitable. And instead of debates or rosy predictions, it is a time when tech companies must come up with solutions that could make remote working more manageable, even after the crisis period. That way, white-collar jobs will involve more productivity and fewer commutes. This is a time when we must leave our prejudice and notions behind and support each other as never before.