Today, as most organizations and businesses are coping with the pandemic, one of the pressing questions is how is the new normal going to be like. Over the last 12-15 months, every sector has seen a shift in consumer behavior and have been forced to restructure their business accordingly to survive. Moreover, organizations have also experienced a fundamental shift in the expectations of various stakeholders including the employees, shareholders and regulatory bodies. Organizations are therefore, looking to accelerate towards making themselves more agile and resilient to navigate the impending volatility with greater stability for their stakeholders.

Before COVID-19, the term ‘future of work’ was nebulous, intangible, hard to measure, rife with buzzwords and yet void of an end date. Many firms did not see future of work as a problem they needed to solve. However, the distress triggered by the pandemic caused the biggest catalyst to workforce change in the shortest amount of time in recent history. Around the world, organizations were forced to adapt to a future of virtual working more quickly than they could have imagined.

As we imagine a path towards recovery, organizations must identify critical job roles that will help them navigate through uncertainty and the long-term implications of having a remote and dispersed workforce.

The need of the hour is to explore the concept of change and what it means for corporate India the workforce and hence, the custodians of people policy, Human Resources.

HR will play an important role in long-term planning. Leaders need to think beyond cost-containment exercises and consider transformational changes to the ways of working afforded by this opportunity. HR can help develop a thoughtful and targeted approach that optimizes people costs while also positioning organizations to come out of this crisis stronger.

• Structurally, the proportion of work done by pivotal roles (usually 5%-15% of the organization) is usually significantly higher than the other roles that serve the core business. Identifying this will enable organizations to determine the degree to which they are enabling pivotal roles relative to non-critical roles.

• With artificial intelligence, robotics and cognitive technologies continuing to overtake routine tasks, organizations are forced to consider which tasks are better done by humans (knowledge tasks) and which are more efficiently accomplished by machines (routine tasks).

• As companies roll out their return-to-workplace plans, they need to make assessments of which employees can and/or will want to continue working remotely now.The percentage of employees that continue to work remotely following the pandemic remains to be seen but most business leaders and economists expect the remote work factor to permanently increase for many organizations as a result.

• The future of work is not only going to impact the location of the workforce but also the composition with many organizations expected to rely increasingly on the gig talent economy to manage their work streams.

Managing people costs effectively and planning the future of the workforce is dependent on an organization’s ability to track data, turn that data into metrics, and know which metrics to prioritize given the business’ unique circumstances. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that none of us know what new challenges the future will bring.
What we can do is prepare our organizations tobe resilient and agile – today – to respond nimbly to future crises from a position of strength.
Jatin Kochar
jatin.kochar@assocham.com
+91 9711904890