The Evolution of Workplace Culture in the COVID-19 era
The pre- and post-COVID-19 eras are drastically different. The way of life before the pandemic set in now seems so far removed. Many things that were part of everyday life, such as restaurants, shopping places, stadia, and more, are all shuttered, and thus a lot of people are bereft of employment.
The crisis has massively altered how work is done, which has, among others, had a bearing on the work of HR professionals. There is no longer a question of whether work can be done remotely, because as has been seen across verticals, most are operable on a remote basis with employees not congregating at a single workplace. There has also been some discussion on whether and for how long this will continue, and if and when operations will revert to the old way.
What HR leaders must realize is that the way of work does not imply a binary choice – either remote or onsite. There is clearly no one right, possible way, even though history may suggest otherwise. Looking ahead, the wise choice would be to combine both options in a balance that is tailored to the particular needs of each employee. Work from home could be the norm, but then again, people could be allowed to work from office if that suits them better.
In the course of their HR careers, professionals will also see that though often the value of work has been seen to lie in personalized advice to clients often offered in face-to-face interactions, digital environments are also conducive to letting such relationships thrive. Technology can facilitate – and has facilitated – creative ways of staying in touch with clients, with advantages that may be hard to let go of if at all things return to the way they were.
Undoubtedly, this will lead to the evolution of workplace culture to very different forms, with marked improvements. The different changes are explained below:
Work and home life cannot be strictly separated
Tradition may suggest otherwise, but work and home life are very closely connected. Team video calls often see unplanned interruptions from either background noise, inadvertent entry of family members, or other factors. These may detract from a 100% smooth flow of work, but HR professionals must realize they help team members know each other better, and thus such interactions should be encouraged.
Employers must show more empathy
The crisis has shown HR leaders even more closely that employee lives outside office matter, and significantly so. There is a need to support those aspects of their lives, so that they can discharge professional responsibilities even better. This could include flexible work schedules, enabling work from home for more employees, mental health support, and care for children and elder family members.
There is a new dynamic of trust between employer and employee
Work from home has become a necessity, and along with this, the workforce has become multi-generational, comprising Generations X, Y, and Z, among others. Different factors drive and motivate different generations within the same workforce, and as part of their HR careers, professionals must facilitate the discarding of preconceived notions and the establishment of new lines of communication and reporting. And because all such options could not be tested before implementation, employees will need to be trusted to get the job done.
This also implies employers must be trusted to provide all requisite support to employees. This would include different aspects of their well being, their job security, and other considerations. Well-settled employees are critical for both company and individual success, and they are intrinsic to the right business output.
Appreciate what was taken for granted
With the new normal settling in, there are no more face-to-face interactions with office colleagues, no jovial office atmosphere, and no feeling of possibility that would come about with multiple minds working together in the same office space. HR leaders must recognize the true pluses of office environments, and arrive at a prejudice-free viewpoint on work from home vs at office.
Focus on the purpose
Authenticity and purpose have been key focus areas for companies. HR professionals have had to contribute to aligning the brand and values of the company with those of individual employees. In the current situation, there is also newfound appreciation for public health workers and for communities coming together to fight the crisis. The purpose for companies and individuals now also encompasses – perhaps most importantly – surviving the COVID-19 crisis with minimal scarring. Working together toward this end will ensure a stronger relationship between the two.
The future is dynamic
There can be no certainty in defining the future, which is why HR leaders must work hard to bring together a multi-generational workforce when marching in the direction of common purposes. The new virtual workplace still requires conversations, creativity, ideas, and inspiration, and regular, clear communication plays an indelible part in facilitating and attaining these goals.
The aforementioned considerations imply multiple demands upon those working on their HR careers. A great way to bring skills and know how up to speed with these is to pick one of the best HR and talent management certifications. A certification shows that the candidate possesses the most current knowledge in the field, and also is able and desirous of growing in his or her career.