Partial work from home may be the new normal post Covid-19

Work from home (WFH) will be a new normal for many organisations post Covid-19, albeit partially, even as fresh hiring and hunt for good talent would continue at the same pace as earlier, experts from the field of HR said at a global webinar “Covid 19- Jaan bhi; Jahan bhi’ , organised by The School of Management of Bennett University, which is part of the Times of India Group, on Thursday.
Speaking on the session `Making the best of Human Resources at the time of Crisis’, Rajorshi Ganguli, president and global HR head, Alkem Laboratories, said the new kind of normal would settle down somewhere in between (workplace and work from home) depending on the sector an organisation operates in. “30-35% of employees – or may be more – could shift to work from home, but those working in factories, laboratories and distribution would continue to operate as they did earlier,” said Ganguli, while adding that new opportunities for good talent will always remain open.

A Stanford study found that remote workers were 13.5% more productive than onsite employees on an average. A Gallup study, too, found employees who were allowed to work remotely were 60-80% times more engaged than the others.
Ganguly said HR challenges arise out of running the operations and the role played by the senior team of the organization, the leaders and the CEO.
At the online conference, where Darwin Industries was the presenting sponsor, experts put forth a positive outlook on normalcy, which they believe, should return soon.
In response to a question at the conference, Ritu Anand, chief leadership and diversity officer, Tata Consultancy Services, said: ”Fresh hiring will not stop. Work is coming in and this normal is the new normal.”

At the CXO level, R Suresh, MD, INSIST Executive Search, said hiring has been impacted as “nobody is hiring and incurring higher costs for now”. However, Suresh added that certain industries like pharmaceuticals, ecommerce, automobiles, government jobs, are reinventing their models and that’s where the requirement for leaders and talent will originate.
“There’s big requirement in regulatory and patenting areas. Companies are keenly looking to hire now and that talent may not be available in India. We could repatriate talent back to India. Another area looking at new generation talent for new chemical discoveries is chemicals, agri chemicals, among others,” said Suresh.
Suresh dentified three sectors which would witness a dramatic change in its leadership dynamics. “The foremost sector or industry that is going to be recasting their leadership architecture because of the opportunity that the post-Covid world will provide is the pharmaceutical industry”. He expects that the pharmaceutical industry will aggressively lookout for talents that are experts in the area of research and development, chemical formulation, patent filing and regulatory affairs. Chemical industry and technology sector are the other two sectors where he expects change in leadership skills.

“Several public services, healthcare, all of them are looking at tech support in deploying the advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics area and making them more equipped to take decisions to support their end customers,” said Suresh.
Giving a psychological perspective on how humans behave at the times of crisis, Anand said, “Stress is good. Stress is important”. According to her optimum amount of stress should be accepted and should be used positively. In the current scenario, she talked about positive partnership wherein one moves ahead with positive attitude. She talked about intentional inclusion of employees with diverse backgrounds.
Emphasising on empathy, Anand said it should, however, not be unidimensional. “It should be balanced, whether it is profit or loss, work or home. Take ownership of life, find your areas of strength, highlight and utilise your strengths, honour your struggles and look for positive stress,” said Anand, while concluding that one must appreciate, acknowlegde and celebrate.

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