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5 Lessons for Indian Corporates from the Last 2 Years of the Pandemic

“I think that this pandemic, in terms of implications, will be as big an event as World War II,” said former SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar in an interview with McKinsey back in July 2020. 

The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was dying down, and luminaries like Kumar were already conscious of the “shift” that was on the cards for businesses in the country.

Fast forward two years, and it’s clear that the pandemic had shaken up the business world unlike anything seen before in history. Indeed, Kumar’s words have come true, with seismic changes becoming the norm in every sector and across companies of all sizes.

As such, we take a look at five critical lessons from the last two years of the pandemic to help Indian companies better prepare themselves and get ahead of the curve in the radically transformed business environment.

1. Well-being of Employees is Paramount

Almost a year into the pandemic, “The Great Resignation” became a common phrase to describe the phenomenon of employees resigning in hordes from their jobs. However, a granular assessment of the reasons reveals that they were the same — employees not feeling content in the workplace.

An analysis by Pew Research Centre reveals that great resignation is driven by dis-content, low engagement, lack of leadership, and poor workplace culture. The same study reveals that the employees who are in the thick of the great resignation experience the following:

  • 57% of the employees feel disrespected at work
  • 63% complain about pay
  • 48% complain about work-life balance
  • 45% complain about inflexibility

A simple analysis of these metrics reveals that organisations have to prioritise workplace wellness to counter great resignation. The average Indian employee today works around 9 hours a day (national benchmark), so their physical, mental, and emotional well-being require attention.

How can this be achieved? In the current scenario, leaders can focus on the following:

  • Conducting mental and physical wellness programs for employees.
  • Implementing a performance appraisal program that focuses on both hard and soft skills. 
  • Providing support and structure for employee upskilling in dynamic times.
  • Encouraging non-work-related activities like volunteering and sports for a more holistic approach to employee wellness
  • Providing health and well-being resources, including recreational facilities, to boost employee engagement

Some reference links on powerful tech tools to help empower employees in the hybrid workplace:

2. Hybrid is Here to Stay

Often touted as the “future of work”, the wave of hybrid workplaces has become a reality with the pandemic. Thanks to factors ranging from increased telecollaboration and increased virtual connectivity to proliferating creative flexibility, etc., Indian organisations are now exploring options to modify their workplace policies and structures.

As per a NASSCOM survey, about 70% of the Indian organisations are eying some form of hybridisation. The survey attributes this inclination to the notion of flexible work timings, better work-life balance and enhanced virtual communication.

As with any change, there have been many who have questioned the viability of a hybrid workspace. However, the survey reveals that the benefits far outweigh any perceived challenges — multiple reasons cited include better employee engagement, higher employee satisfaction, reduced travel costs and increased productivity.

It’s noteworthy that the concept of a hybrid workplace isn’t new. In fact, a study dating back to 2008 elaborates on “groupware technologies” and their influence on collaboration. Video conferencing and messaging applications like Zoom, Meet, Slack and Discord are, in fact, a result of the increased need for collaboration and transparency in business.

Some reference links on powerful tech tools to help enable the hybrid workplace:

3. Tech Adoption is Imperative

The pandemic demolished assumptions like:

  • Customers only prefer interaction with humans
  • Digital-only solutions aren’t monetizable
  • Managed IT services don’t cut it for remote work, etc. 

Amid the long-running lockdowns, customers didn’t shy away from engaging with digital methods — they came to expect it and were quite willing to pay for it. The projected 84% growth of the eCommerce sector by 2025 is a testament to this fact.

Moreover, the pandemic led to a more normalised acceptance of remote work, with organisations subjecting to tech interventions to support distributed teams and reduce overheads. According to PwC, around 52% of companies accelerated the adoption of AI-powered technologies to drive digital experiences.

Such inclinations effectively translate to enhanced digital competencies for the future. These competencies will be instrumental in enabling organisations to harness the potential of AI and ML while also leveraging the power of digital media, wearables and IoT-enabled solutions to build more effective business processes. AV solutions played a powerful role in driving communication, collaboration, and communication across enterprises as new use-cases emerged.

Overall, the tech narrative is not going away anytime soon as the growth of digital mediums continues. That said, the concepts like cloud, data interoperability and cybersecurity should be at the heart of how Indian organisations operate and enterprise AV solutions will keep evolving.

Some reference links on powerful tech tools to drive organizational excellence:

4. Enterprise Agility/Flexibility is Everything

Organisations have long been seen as entities that possess inertia — unable to change or adapt to new situations and circumstances. However, this notion is changing with organisations seeking greater agility for long-term sustainability.

The pandemic’s impact on the Indian economy was an eye-opener for businesses, making them realise that agility matters all the time. The perceived disruption has forced organisations to re-evaluate their business processes and adapt to a rapidly changing landscape.

The ways in which flexibility can be effectively channelised across the organisation include:

  • Promoting hybrid work structures that support both traditional and virtual teams
  • Conceptualising organisational design, with more focus on cross-functional teams and decentralised decision-making
  • Advancing information sharing through digital collaboration platforms
  • Cutting down decision-making time through automation and programmatic solutions, etc.

Some reference links on powerful tech tools to drive flexibility and agility:

5. Social Impact is Undeniable

During the several peaks of the pandemic, millions were hit by the realisation that humans are vulnerable.

With the exception of a few, most were forced to go back to basics — dependent on human support for survival. In fact, the pandemic served as a wake-up call for many individuals and corporations alike — leading to a greater sense of responsibility and movement towards making a difference in the world.

The new-found impetus is not just limited to corporate social responsibility initiatives — it is now being translated into actions like volunteering and charitable giving, which have always been significant features of Indian culture.

Going forward, the social impact will emerge as a significant factor in career considerations. Organisations would effectively position themselves as “purpose-driven” entities by creating awareness of the greater good.

In a Nutshell

The pandemic has revealed that change is inevitable — businesses need to be agile and ready for disruptions. The changes are happening, and now they need to be proactively managed.

These times are not just a reality check; they are a call to action for Indian organisations. With the tech narrative continuing to grow, organisations must expand their visibility and evolve their workforces and mindsets accordingly.

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