The Covid-19 Year and its Impact on Our "New Normal" at Workplace
2020 is the Year of Changes. We change the way we see international relations; we see technology enablement differently, people interaction with is now very different from a year before, and how people – customers, employees, business persons, literally everyone on this planet – view life& death, career, money, relationship, and priorities in life have changed too.
Even though businesses did a lot on digitalization in the past decades, nothing strikes as big as the COVID-19 war. Face-to-face interaction is no longer feasible during lockdowns. Working ‘together’ in one single location is not workable, talking with a group of people? No way. Why bother wearing make-ups when everyone is wearing a mask. Why bother to buy fancy clothes when all are working from home most of the time. People were hoping for more work-life balance, and now many are struggling with how to continue their work at home when their kids are also home all day, pleading for their attention. How about engaging our customers and people assets when we cannot see each other for weeks if not months?
The fact is that the world has changed.
Key Considerations for the New Normal Workplace Arrangement
To cope with all these, businesses (that still survive) and everyone are changing our ways of working. A good lesson for us is that we can engage our customers and employees even though we cannot see them in person. The only thing we had to figure out in the past few months was: How?
The “Theme” – One of the most important things we did to enable our workforce and customers to engage with each other mutually was to provide a common platform & a “theme” so that we are facing a “common challenge” we will go through it “together.” Our digital platform for our customers and our digital platform originally designed to train our frontline staff became so crucial that we invest heavily in them.
One of the most important things we did to enable our workforce and customers to mutually engage with each other was to provide a common platform
Be Considerate– Not all our customers and employees have a 1TB internet connection at home or mobile plans. Materials with videos & colorful graphics are NOT a good thing. Unless your company is paying all these extra costs or providing additional support like this to your audiences, don’t fall into the trap of providing fancy but useless materials to them.
Bite-Size. Make It Simple – Use bite-size messages & training instead of lengthy dialogues. Remember, our customers/ employees are now flocked with messages all day long during COVID-19. The last thing they need is tons of lengthy materials they need to go through to get a straightforward thing done. Your communication platform must also be simple enough so that kindergarten kids with a handful of ice-cream on their hands can load and use it in 10 seconds. Yes, in our 5G-internet world, patience is a scarce commodity, and no one will wait for more than 10 seconds for a video to load without pressing the skip or back button.
Fun, Fun& More Fun– Work can be fun. So should be its training or communication materials. Gamify them, add in rewards or point system, learn from online games. Make it fun. The rewards will be way more significant than the effort we put into developing these channels and systems.
Custom-Make Your Offerings– If we had all the resources we needed to develop each of them, it would have been the best case to have custom-made our training, teaching, or communication materials to every person to develop their full potentials and get the message across. Companies have been standardizing for decades to make things easy, but it is never the best approach for people development or engagement. We know that people have different learning speeds, preferred modes of learning, strengths, and weakness in schools. But in the past, we had to resort to a group-based, standardized education approach due to limited resources and time. With technological advancement, however, now we can use bite-size, mobile-based technology supported by A.I. backbone to custom-make our employees/ customers communication to the next level.
Think Out of the Box? There Is No Box– One of the main differences between the retail industry and traditional corporates is that we are very open to different work arrangements and reward schemes. As long as “it works” and “get the results we want,” we are all for them. So, forget about a 5-day work week or a 9-hour workday. Forget about full time/part-time differentiation. Forget about providing a fancy office space with a table tennis corner or massage chairs.
Think about something completely different and personal, e.g., digital nomad work arrangement, think about FWFM (Forever-Work-From-Home), think about the fact that nowadays, no tasks are really office-bounded if you have the proper system access. Think about hot desks arrangement even for support functions, etc. etc. The choices are limitless. You will also be able to unearth talents pool that were hidden initially and attract a big chunk of the new generation workforce who loves a flexible and personal work approach.
One Last Word
The above actions are by no means exhaustive. We can always do something more and innovative. But one thing is common for all of us – the first person you need to convince is the leadership team. Your journey to a new workplace culture and work style will be much smoother if you have your top management team onboard. Aiming big is good, but aim small, and pilot run a few small action items will work even better and show your leadership team “these are possible!”.
Stay safe, everyone. We will stride through this worldwide challenge together and come out even stronger. Bless you all.