Reinventing the future of work: Changing profiles of a remote workforce

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By Sean Narayanan

The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the Indian economy in the past year. Nationwide lockdowns and an imperative for a new normal propelled adoption of rapid digital transformation by businesses across the country. While 2020 presented attrition and lay-offs, 2021 seems to be exhibiting a rapidly recovering pace in hiring opportunities. The world has been moving at a rapid pace and is witnessing a natural rise in demand for technology along with a boom in skill-based hiring to meet the demand.

As the recruitment process evolves, Human Resource teams will be equipped with new better technological tools and required skill sets. Emerging and evolving technology like bots, AI, analytics, and others will eventually replace most functions that HR teams have been performing all these years.

Changing profiles of a remote workforce

Nothing can beat a self-propelling workforce in the current context. To deliver in a remote set-up, attributes such as self-discipline to meet commitments in an unmonitored environment, proactive communication skills, a keen interest in self-learning, agility, empathy, and the ability to adapt to evolving pandemic situations are extremely valuable.

Managers need to be comfortable with ambiguity, compassionate towards colleagues, and have the ability to create connections. They must value collaboration over command, consultation over coordination, career over compensation, and be intrapreneurial in their approach. These qualities can help accelerate engagement levels between the organisation and employee. HR has a pivotal role in creating frameworks to enable this.

Hiring tools and talent engagement tools can leverage AI/Cognitive Computing technologies to identify, nurture these behaviors so that it becomes a way of life for the organisation.

Multigenerational teams working from home

Indian organisations have now accepted the hybrid Work from Home model, which brings with itself productivity, possible maximised turnover, and competency.

Today, most workplaces consist of four generations of employees who happen to prefer different workstyles. Older colleagues find it difficult to shift to a purely technical atmosphere to execute day to day activities that were otherwise performed in person. However, organisations continue to hire remote workers irrespective of geographical locations. This is resulting in diversity within the organisation and teams, higher productivity, minimal business costs, increased employee retention and reduced exposure to health risks. The focus has also shifted for the younger managers who now create engagement models for optimum productivity.

Changing employer-employee relationship

With a remote workforce becoming a way of life in India, organisations are reinventing the way employer brand recall is being established and how employee engagement levels are being enhanced. Organisations are updating digital collaboration tools, exploring remote learning platforms, and establishing well connected learning communities and self-help productivity platforms. Leaders are using tools such as video blogs to connect with employees and their families. Rewards and recognitions have been adapted to cater to a remote workforce.

Reimagining an ‘as-a-service’ economy

An ‘as-a-service’ economy encourages diversity in talent and enables preferred outcomes as organisations begin to look beyond geographical limitations.

Today, client organisations are seeking partners with a consulting mindset to not only drive productivity gains or cost arbitrage, but also proactive systemic advisory built into the ecosystem of building platforms and solutions. This is where a remote workforce plays a key role with multicultural ideas stemming from experiences of different business scenarios. We at Apexon are uniquely positioned to provide this as a key differentiator.

Future of work sets new normal

India’s current gig economy is rising, and this emerging culture seems to benefit both the organisations and the workers. There are several organisations and platforms in the country that provide opportunities to freelancers, contractual workers, or gig workers as they are popularly known. The Gig economy coupled with “As-a-Service” economy when put together with Platforms and solutions will be icing on the cake for clients to consume. This also leads to global hiring or boundaryless engagement of talent.

Over the past 18 months there has been minimal travel across countries but still we see technology outsourcing thriving at its peak. The future of the Indian workforce will be tech empowered along with remote hiring. Digital tools for video interviews and online assessments are shaping the hiring trend currently and will ultimately be an integral part of future hiring. Organisations and employees alike are using productivity enhancement and tracking tools. The icing on the cake is that remote working is enabling employees shift from a ‘Work-Life-Balance’ paradigm to an ‘Integrated-Life’ or ‘One-Life’ setting, allowing them to coexist and function along-side their families with clear focus on personal health while meeting organisational objectives.

The year 2021 is discussing the different possibilities that can be incorporated into a hybrid work model to suit unpredictable global events. Organisations today are aware of the value of a hybrid approach derived from past experiences of working on-site, and the more recent experiences of managing a remote workforce. As global organisations return to work, companies strategically plan the use of technology incorporated with the flexibility of a hybrid workforce for mutually beneficial experiences.

The author is the CEO at Apexon.

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