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Unlock and Re-framing the rules of engagement

Unlock and Re-framing the rules of engagement

Globally, 2020 has become one of the eventful years in the history. The pandemic has brought life to a halt as never before. It has brought economies to a stand-still with a severe global recession that has come to be accepted mutely.

As we end the year and look forward to the dawn of a new year, it is the wish that the new year is also the dawn of a new era – post-pandemic era. As we look forward to emerging out of the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19, will life be the same?  If not, what is the new life post-COVID lockdown is going to be?  How to prepare oneself for it?

The pandemic lockdown has impacted the organization significantly, but not everything has to be in deep-grey. The grey clouds could also have a silver lining. The pandemic lockdown does offer its own silver-lining. It is up to us to either focus on the opportunities that the post COVID scenario offers and bring in restructuring and reforms in the operations and ways of working.

The lockdown brought life to a near-halt. Organizations have been forced to look deep into their pockets and innovate new ways of engagements to circumvent the situation. Having adopted new ways of working, can this not provide a flip to the way we engage as the world gets ready to Unlock. I do not want to propose a detailed plan here, on how every organization should go about the unlock. On the other hand, when the organizations do plan their unlock, how could they use this opportunity to re-create some of the engagements and make them the new normal?

Adhering to the safety precautions and mechanisms, including maintenance of social-distancing, touch-free operations etc. will help in reinforcing the confidence in the employees. It is very important to re-ignite their minds and show that the company does hold their safety and health as the highest priority.

Besides, there are some areas that the corporates can reflect on, to assess the ways of working and examine how it could be enhanced. How can the experience of 2020 be used to optimize while re-energizing the workforce?

Work from Home

Many organizations had their employees working from home during major part of 2020. Very many activities that were thought not feasible remotely, were being worked on remotely this year.  At the same time, it was not all rosy through the way. The line between personal life and office life greying quite a bit was one of the major complaints from the employees. For the managers, it was re-inventing their skills to track tasks and activities remotely; not all were very successful at that.

The Work-from-Home (WFH) has its benefits. If organization can effectively mix WFH with Work-from-Office (WFO), it could be a motivator for the employees. 

  • A Lot of time that is spent on the road commuting is converted to productive time.
  • Employees, particularly women employees, whose mere presence at home could be very useful for them, can get their work done even while being at home. 
  • To the company, less real-estate is required for more staff. And, the operational overheads can also be reduced substantially.

Personally, I have also observed that at office, there are number of interruptions that are not anticipated, but not avoided, which is completely missing in WFH.  

At the same time, there are certain very conscious practices to be put into practice to make WFH effective. A few of them are listed below:

  1. The first complaint with WFH has been the greying of the line between family time and office time.  Certain strict time has to be maintained during WFH; any calls or meetings should be permissible only during that time. This will help in preventing burn-outs. During WFO, this is observed in a very significant way.  The same must be extended during WFH.
  2. WFH will work well, only when mutual trust is built between the leadership and the employees.   When a common goal is agreed upon, and everyone is working towards the same, there is a strong possibility of building trust.
  3. Project management requires new ways of handling remote management and tracking. Traditional methods may require some enhancements to enable them.
  4. It is very important for everyone to meet in the office as a team as often as possible.  This overlap in WFO has to be consciously planned in order to bring the team together every week. 

Re-shaping the organization

Traditionally, we have been used to having our team-mates all sitting together in the same work area, all within a calling distance; the rules of engagement and employment were very similar.  Though this had served its purpose in the past, with the availability of the technologies of today, do we want to stick to the same or can we do anything different?  

Wait till February 2021 to read “Reshaping of Organization”.

About the Author

Dr. Anand Lakshmanan is a Senior-Member of IEEE, a Technologist and an Organization builder. He is currently pursing advisory and consulting roles for EdTech companies, and member of curriculum committee and Senate in Institutes of National repute.