The impact of the pandemic has caused disruptive progress in the workplace, welcoming an era of uncertainty that has forced companies to revaluate their workplace policies and embrace concepts like remote working. With an increasing demand for flexible working and a progressing vaccination effort across the globe, businesses need to consider a workplace transition with a hybrid and human-centric approach in the times to come.
THE CHANGE GOING FORWARD
The idea of a ‘human-centric’ workplace makes even more business sense when you consider that creating the highest level of productivity will require the business design to be human and simple; aligned to employee values. Even our industries, clients, customers, partners, etc., are responding to this shift by proving that they are loyal to organizations that promote sustainable actions and holistic workforce development, not just to good products or services.
The office will see a resurgence in its purpose as a space for collaborative and productive work experiences. The modern workplace design needs to strike a balance in its design between individual and collective enhancement, going beyond just safety and flexible augmentations. Employers need to take a renewed approach toward retaining talent in this new normal. As mentioned before, employees are paying much more attention to aspects such as work-life balance, remote working and integration over just professional growth. A stark change over the previous generations of our workforces.
A GLANCE INTO HISTORY
Organizations across history have borne witness to the gradual changes in workforce behavior across generations. However, this pandemic and the advent of remote working or the digital workplace has thrown a spotlight on the gaps that current workplaces have with their employees.
Traditionalists and the ‘Baby Boomers ’ carried themselves on values revolving around conservative views, working long hours, being reliant on authority figures, deriving self-worth from their work ethic, etc. Skill development was seen as an investment into the job and the company rather than the individual. Dedication to the job and time spent working in a modern workplace was a source of self-actualization for these generations.
The generations that followed, i.e., Generation X and the Millennials, have a substantially different perspective toward their employment. Ideas around personal ambitions, remote working and prioritizing greater output over longer hours have become prominent. Authorities began to be viewed as partners and skill development is seen as a means to a better job/opportunity. An idealistic lifestyle emphasizing a symbiotic relationship between employment and personal life has become a top priority for the younger generation.
The modern digital workplace needs to cultivate a morale-positive structure around employees who may have different expectations from their work. This requires compassionate leadership. The ability to be compassionate and connect with others is critical to our lives, both personally and professionally.
5 factors that will define a ‘human-centric’ workplace:
Focus on wellbeing: Emotional health and mental wellbeing of workforces have categorically taken a hit in the recent times. Situations of isolation and demotivation are becoming a common occurrence with the lockdowns and the imposed work from home arrangements. As our lives look to emerge out of the pandemic phase, it is increasingly critical to keep a check on your employees and ensure their expectations are being met as we move forward into a future workplace.
Flexible Work: A majority of our workforces have enjoyed this opportunity since last year -- to spend more time with loved ones, balance domestic jobs, and spend less time commuting. The value of the office, however, will remerge as a repurposed future workplace away from home to collaborate with colleagues, and accommodate different working styles and tasks that can’t always be done at home.
Interpersonal Relations: Remote working, while with its positives, has brought some impediments toward building positive relations within teams. The hybrid, future workplace that employees will return to shortly needs to provide for dynamic interactions and focused group activities that encourage workplace banter and incentivize coming to the office.
Internal and External Growth: Organizations that wish to retain and nurture their workforce will create opportunities for skill and job growth within their hybrid workplace. Organizations that believe in the holistic development of their workforce will encourage their employees to develop skills that might go beyond their enterprise but would serve them well in the future.
Encouraging Self-care: Our workforce needs to believe that their employers have vested interest in their wellbeing beyond the confines of the hybrid workplace. Providing facilities for our employees to work upon their physical and mental health isn’t enough. Positive reinforcement through linking healthy wellbeing with workforce KPIs is a forward-looking signal in the organization’s relationship with the workforce.
Demonstrating empathy in the workplace– a critical element of effective leadership – is bound to improve interactions in general and can lead to more effective communication and positive outcomes. A workplace designed around similar values while retaining productivity and flexibility will go a long way toward building the model workplace of the future. It’s important to acknowledge how this transitionary period between new workplace transformation trends needs to embrace the ‘human’ in human resources more than ever.