The Future of Work could actually be a popular pop-culture phrase right now, what with the endless debates, discussions and brouhaha about how human beings will ultimately adapt to a social distancing scenario and start working more from home. How will modern workplaces adapt? How will the ongoing and devastating COVID-19 pandemic change the way we work in the future?

There are several other issues integrated within the future of work question. One of course is the fact that automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning could impact overall work processes and jobs. Another is the fact that how much will working models and structures change and of course, the overall opportunities for the freelance/outsourced/gig economy thereafter. The biggest question is whether people will be able to sustainably work again in the future while taking on major challenges and earning decent salaries at the same time. There is one thing though; machines are now being built not to assist any function but rather, in a reverse pattern, they are now about doing things differently. Abilities which are repetitive, administrative and time consuming can be taken care of by machines, freeing up human resources to focus on more productive and valuable aspects and that is where a major part of the debate is going to hover in the coming months.

How does the pandemic change our ways of working?

We’re still not in the loop about what’s going to ultimately pan out from a professional perspective. At the same time, in a post-COVID-19 scenario, the world will no longer be the same; offices, traveling, entertainment, functioning of businesses, etc. will all change drastically in fact.

Here are the few things you should be aware of –

  1. Work From Home (WFH) will be a regular thing – No longer an incentive for employees or occasional practice, WFH (it’s a trending hashtag these days!) will become the new normal. The number of people allowed within office environments will reduce dramatically at least for several months after the pandemic subsides to an extent. Studies found that more than half of Indian companies do not have the proper infrastructure to enable employees to whole-heartedly work from home. Hence, companies are expected to offer better facilities for employees in order to enable working from home. This includes laptops, reliable internet connectivity, backups and microphones among others. When employers and employees join hands in creating suitable conditions for WFH, it will naturally become a new way of working in the future.
  2. Offices will be more technology-driven – Technology will be a key operations driver for offices across the country. Video conferences and meetings will be a normal affair across the spectrum. Companies will be investing in new technological tools that enable better work from home and higher productivity. The new equipment will find more takers and security and data investments will naturally go up in the bargain. There will also be video-based exit and entry systems for ensuring the safety of employees.
  3. Offices to seem completely different than before – Workplaces will naturally sport new looks. With a majority of the population working from home, real estate requirements will naturally go down as companies look to save costs in the bargain as well. New social distancing regulations will be enforced for all employees and offices will be frequently sanitized as well. Cubicles may be spaced better and employees may have to sit at considerable distances, even in conference meetings and board room discussions. Co-working spaces may also space out desks and other shared facilities in the near future.
  4. Employer Support May Increase Exponentially – Work from home will be a regular affair and that means that employers may also be more considerate towards the needs of employees. HR (Human Resource) teams may find it hard to boost and maintain morale and team spirit virtually although companies may be coming up with video/virtual sessions/consultations for their employees along with counseling sessions to ensure suitable mental health and wellness. Employers may be more supportive in a post-COVID-19 scenario, while emphasizing on taking care of the mental and physical well-being of their employees.

Whatever it is, our ways of working will naturally change like everything else. What we should ensure is that we remain flexible, alert and adaptable in terms of going with the flow.

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