A think piece from an HR professional’s perspective.
Who would have thought we will be facing a pandemic in our lifetime?
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. The large-scale transmission of the pandemic across countries has given a big blow to the global workforce and the economy in general.
Companies already started to furlough or even lay-off their employees. Some companies started to close their business due to being unable to run anymore. All plans for Q1 & Q2 2020 seem no more feasible.
So what to expect amid pandemic, as an employee and as an employer?
We know life and business eventually will return to something resembling normality in due course. While we don’t fully understand what the new normal will look like, we know it is not going to be easy. Companies need to be ready to manage the new realities and capitalize on the opportunities. Because right now, we are in the midst of the most massive remote-work experiment ever, with office professionals around the world trading conference rooms for Zoom and their suits for sweatpants! WFH (working from home) is the new normal for many employees amid the coronavirus outbreak.
So, when all of us get back to the office, how we are going to behave will be different. Let’s say when we have a new-client meeting, shall we handshake? Should we wear our face-mask most of the time? How about the cleaning protocol? Wash your hands with “two times singing happy-birthday-song”? Maybe also screening for fevers and other symptoms at the entrance to an office? Should the company ask for Covid19-healthy-clearance from their employees? Et cetera, et cetera.
Sooner or later, companies should now not only focus on remaining agile and acting responsibly during the storm, but also ensuring they have a long-term plan and the best resources in place for recovering afterward. Everything will change. Each of us will be part of that change. And we all agree it’s impossible to run an utterly risk-free work environment. However, companies should be doing what they can to reduce risk.
What are the options, for now?
- Companies have been forced to embrace remote working amid stay-at-home orders for all nonessential positions and businesses. In the process, corporations are seeing proof that productivity does not suffer, and employees may not need to return to offices to be productive and accomplish their work tasks. After this pandemic is over, I’m sure companies will give more options to WFH (work from home) for their employees. (A Colliers survey found that 82% of office professionals would like to work remotely at least one day a week after the end of the crisis).
- Amid coronavirus pandemic, almost our habits in our life change. And most likely, we are also evolving. Some of our duties usually require a lot of paperwork so that it will change into paperless documentation, and we will do everything through technology. Like it or not, all documentation needs to be digitally stored.
- A meeting is no longer needed physically face-to-face because meeting virtually is doable as well. Also, when living in a hectic city, this will be another option to minimize traffic and pollution.
- Since we all are seeing proof that productivity does not suffer, and even if employees may not need to return to offices to be productive and accomplish their work tasks. This ability to adapt to inevitable changes is the crucial point for each employee.
Catalyst Strategy, a strategic narrative consulting firm in Jakarta, had started the WFH amid coronavirus pandemic since March 16th, 2020. We start to adjust our ‘new’ routine by having Zoom or Tandem calls during the day, not only just for meetings, but also for our daily conversation/discussion/sharing, etc. We manage to evolve with the current situation. Each employee needs to be responsible for their job-tasks and duties. We do what we have to do in order to get our job done.
But most importantly, we take this opportunity to rethink our way of working. Asking what really matters? How can we work better? How can we have a more productive meeting? How can we tidy our schedule so that we have our designated focus time instead of endless Zoom meetings? What else can we offer to the world? Are we doing enough to give our best? Have we challenged ourselves to make the most out of this trying time?
Those are the questions that both employee and employer could ponder. What we do hope for the future is that all of us will survive going through this crisis and everything will be better than before!
Martha Manurung is an HR & GA Director in Catalyst Strategy, a strategic narrative consulting firm based in Jakarta. Catalyst Strategy helps leaders and organizations create a better world through better narratives.
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