New normal: The need for a new blueprint for managing future of work

Uma Ganesh | October 4, 2021 |

Every dimension of work which we have been accustomed to for multiple decades has to be thoroughly reviewed

COVID-19 has brought in its wake a hurried set of series of actions in the corporate world, most of which have been centered around survival of the business to service the customers or are aimed at short term measures to address the immediate needs and in some cases have been meant for opportunistic scaling seizing the advantage of the pandemic for their business. The core of these actions has been the capability of digital technology facilitating better connectedness with key stakeholders leading to interactions like never before, increased surfing resulting in soaring businesses for those who had already put in place a digital strategy even before the pandemic arrived and for others, presenting eye-openers on the potential that could be reaped with a robust digital approach.

Most of the focus has been so far in the realms of customer domain naturally, resulting in the rest of the organisation making changes to adapt with many of them.

However the reality is we have the new normal at hand and it is going to be very difficult for most businesses to go back to their old ways of working. Digital era and automation have brought in their wake the urgency to rethink work definitions, review roles people are currently performing and most importantly, the organisation design required to support and supervise new ways of working. AI, sensors and cloud technologies have been invading the workspaces and have begun to disrupt the processes and workflows. Further, employee expectations of their digital experiences and the heightened social media impact on the business are some of the key factors that help in shaping the organisation view inside and outside the organisation.

Work, workspace and roles are forced to change as new digital tools evolve. Therefore, every dimension of work would have to be thoroughly reviewed in the context of the changing business paradigm and the ramifications resulting in new value propositions, new business models and new businesses. With fresh talent coming into the organisations equipped with digital skills and flexibility to learn and adapt, we should expect a sea change in the work environment. New work and social contracts would emerge and businesses would need to cope with diverse set of workers—full time, part time, freelancers, virtual workers, assignment based specialist workers working alongside robots. As a result, new work ethos and environment that are emerging would also require to be nurtured very differently from the culture built over a period of time. The new organisation design has to move away from topdown approach of centralised decision making to democratic decision making with flows of actions likely to be more transparent and decentralised.

Employees at middle and lower levels would be more empowered to develop outside-in perspectives and enhance value to the stakeholders through their enagements thus building the ability to facilitate the much needed agility in the business functioning. Priorities around impact on society, sustainability and social equity would form the basis for the choice of organisation that employees prefer to be associated with. The need to champion these principles will direct organisations to assess their current organisation design and adapt to the emerging business paradigm by incorporating appropriate digital tools.

Originally appeared in Financial Express