How will we work in the future?

A commentary by Reshma Ramachandran, Group Vice President at Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

A little over 6 months back, a tiny little micro-organism upended the way we perceived the world. What was thought to be a problem of the country where it originated, China, soon spread across the world. There is not a single aspect of life that this pandemic has not impacted. And without any warning COVID-19 disrupted the work sector and paved way for the future of work.

Reshma Ramachandran
... is currently A commentary by Reshma Ramachandran, Group Vice President at Hitachi ABB Power Grids. She has extensive experience in business transformation & change management and is a champion of diversity & inclusion. Born and brought up in India, she prefers to be identified as a global citizen, having lived in 13 countries across different continents.

What is the new workplace going to look like?

  1. Flexible working – the new normal. There will be flexibility both in terms of hours and location. At the core it means to break the traditional norm of a rigid 9-to-5 or fixed work hours, 5-day weeks and in the premises of office or a home. This translates to trusting the individuals to perform their responsibilities and deliver the outcome without prescribing a way to work.
  2. Redefining office spaces – collaboration centers. The office space will no longer be a working space. The better use of office real estate is to redefine it as collaboration spaces, where teams come together to hustle and collaborate on projects that are fast paced and requires to build strong teams to innovate.
  3. Automation – digital acceleration. The most disrupted area of work due to COVID-19 is digital transformation. The most downloaded app in the past few months is Zoom. However, this also presented the dark side of digitalization when Zoom was faced with security issues. Organizations will need to accelerate the investments in digital technology to enable flexible working. This will also include investments in robots and algorithms that enable the reduction in human capital for repetitive tasks.
  4. End of business travel -rise of virtual connectivity. The pandemic presented an interesting opportunity for businesses to reduce carbon footprint in many ways, one of the most striking being reduction in business travel. Data shows an 80% reduction in business travel globally. Virtual collaboration and hangouts will be the new normal.
  5. Reinventing rewards & recognition – fixed, variable & stipends. As many organizations like Google did, home office stipends will be a part of the workplace perks. Virtual workplaces will also need to redefine how promotions and rewards are decided – extroversion and productivity in physical interactions are way different from virtual collaborations.   
  6. More equitable workforce – return of women. One of the main reasons for women to stay in the professional workforce is their role as primary care givers and the lack of flexibility currently organizations have. Virtual working and telecommuting will allow more women to remain in the workforce as well as create more equity at home.

Businesses will bounce back, with a new normal. All these changes will not be all at once and not all will be permanent. Country and government regulations will continue to play a significant role in defining the future of work. However once thing is certain – the future of work is different.

Author: Reshma Ramachandran

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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