By Shveta Raina
In the past decade, there have been many disruptions in the way we work, learn and communicate. With an unprecedented increase in full time workers working side by side with gig workers and digital assistants or bots, we all agree that the pace of change has never been this fast.
However, none of us would have imagined being working exclusively from our homes while struggling with homeschooling and trying to figure out how to manage Zoom sessions and virtual meetings. The Covid-19 pandemic has become the accelerator of one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. How we work, shop, learn, exercise, communicate, everything has changed dramatically.
The virtual world
The digital world is fast and delivers results quickly. The unprecedented technological innovations in learning methodology followed by the global crisis have triggered the already rising ecosystem of remote learning and training. Remote learning offers numerous benefits – higher calibre pathways for future, competency-based learning, traceable learning, reduced distraction, flexibility and familiarises learners with advanced technology. The learners also get benefited with the addition of relevance, context, and personalisation to their learning experience.
Remote learning has become quite popular among professionals as they spend more time on online learning as a response to remote working. Also, the shrinking job market has accelerated the need for upskilling and to stay mindful through these challenging times. Moreover, a recent LinkedIn study predicted that 6 in 10 Indian professionals will increase their time spent on online learning, which highlights optimism towards future opportunities for online learning.
The transformed workplace environment
Work from home, which began as a rescue from the global crisis, is dramatically transforming the way corporate functions. There are organisations that have reported improved productivity during forced remote work and also, employees have become more interactive and communicative. As a result, many established companies, traditional brands and even start-ups, are switching their focus towards flexible working arrangements.
In the last few months, with employees working remotely, the corporate world has realised the power of virtual meeting platforms and how they can replace in-person meetings. Gradually, people are also realising that daily to-do’s can be discussed and addressed online, rather than travelling to far off places to be physically present. The management is now, more than ever, focused on developing new ways for co-workers to interact. Some methods that have been adopted are zoom coffee breaks, regular team bonding activities and other ways to improve company morale. With easy access and availability of video conferencing tools; workplace collaboration and communication platforms that provision email, calendar, voice notes, and more, it is true that technology has made a virtual switch possible yet effective.
Moreover, the pandemic has taken a toll on mental health worldwide. While the earlier focus of companies was on the physical health of employees, new initiatives are emphasising their general well-being, which is inclusive of mental health. Companies are more focused than ever to build resilience and strength in employees to get through these times.
Leverage the time as an opportunity
The newly introduced culture of work i.e. remote work is here to stay, even when the economy eventually reopens. The new normal isn’t necessarily remote work, in fact, it is much broader yet simpler. It is a world where we focus on work rather than office space. As companies adopt new ways of working via virtual workplaces, asynchronous communication, and results-based tracking, there will be an increased focus on the immense contributions that employees are making to their companies and industries.
As the looming threat of COVID-19 eventually dissipates, the organisations will explore and adopt advancements in learning and development (L&D) to keep their workforces skilled, productive, and competitive and also, to pace up recovery. Hence, this is the best time to invest in upskilling and internship.
Moreover, virtual training ensures learning and growth as a professional while working from home. It can be a boot camp for the skills one needs to communicate effectively, operate as part of a team and so on. This new learning landscape fosters teaching new skills to employees, wherever they may be. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of fully digitised approaches to learn new skills and grow through live video and social sharing.
Summing it all up
What is perhaps the most traumatic experience of our lives will have a drastic impact on us as individuals, as a society and as a workforce. After the pandemic is gone, some things will go back to the way they were, but, for others, there will be a new normal. When an event that poses an existential threat happens, it leaves a huge impact on many norms of life, changing them in the short term or long term.
As companies act quickly to build up critical workforce capabilities, it has accelerated a trend in workplace dynamics and changing workplace roles. This transformation to the virtual mode makes it possible to scale learning efforts and permits greater personalisation for learners, thereby resulting in greater effectiveness.
(The author is Founder, and CEO, Talerang)
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