Sunday, May 03, 2020

Covid19 and new normal

Few years back when the central government amended the company law for CSR spend, there were a lot of NGOs started mushrooming to support corporate & help them to manage the CSR fund. Everybody wanted to support organizations without much having any competencies to manage projects under CSR. Few of the NGOs even didn’t have any knowledge about the spend. On the other side, few suppliers and consultants were trying to relate everything with CSR and approaching companies. I remember when one of the English language training institutes approached me about English speaking courses for villagers and people in rural areas. In another case, Children story book publisher approached me about selling books for kids in the school. These people were not aware about priorities of the societies and companies. There is another set of NGOs who are managed by designer social workers. Unfortunately, this is a social engineering business model. Somebody’s donation is somebody’s business. During the Covid19 situation, today those people on the ground supporting the poor are small foundations or social workers in a true sense. I have not seen any designer NGO working at ground level.

I remember this because of Covid19 situation. The Covid19 situation is the same, where everybody is trying to relate their actions with Covid19 situations. I have seen some products which are proposed to en-cash the moment. I get marketing mails where they are trying to relate everything to Covid19 situation. They are assuming that everything is because of Covid19, from payroll to training and health & wellness. Very few are adding value to our business and knowledge. 
Take an example of digitalization. We have been speaking about the digitilization & the new ways of working for the last few year. We already knew that automation, digitalization, artificial intelligence is part of life. Covid19 has given us the opportunity to test where we stand and how much we are prepared for this. There are companies which have already been working from home for the last few years. Surprisingly, companies which call themselves modern companies (IT) don’t have enough IT hardware to manage this situation. There are a lot of companies where employees are working from home either with their personal desktop or laptops are shared among them. But there are organizations who have all infrastructure ready & they were forced, they started to work from home with few hiccups and now it is well settled. 
But does it mean that in future everybody would like to work from home? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. totally depend upon the personal choice and organizational needs. Human beings are social animals; they have their psychological needs. Employees and organizations need to find ways to keep them engaged. Working from home for a few days is ok but working from home permanently has its own consequences. It is very fancy to say about it, but organizations need to devise futuristic policy how they will ensure engagement, productivity and also have right controls.
There is another fad nowadays and it is about expert comments on the consequences of Covid19. Do we really need to tell us that Covid19 will have a bad impact on the economy? It is common sense. Few years back, when MS office was launched, people were fascinated by making fancy presentations. There is one presentation on the SlideShare which speaks about “Death by PowerPoints''. It was too much. Slowly people got it habituated and matured enough to make sensible presentations for the audiences and they realized that presentations are just to compliment the speaker while presenting something to the audience. In extreme conditions if you face technical issues and your ppt doesn’t work, you should be able to speak without that. Today, it is the similar fad of using apps like Zoom for webinar. I will say that people will die because of webinars. There should be some sensible topics. I fully understand that such webinars are good to keep engaging people. It is also assumed that people don’t have anything to do hence it is a good opportunity to connect. But the problem is relating everybody as a consequence of Covid19. Few topics and of course I am also the culprit of speaking on one or two forums. Initially for a few days, it was OK to have some sessions, but I have seen few people speaking and giving their opinion which is not an expert opinion and doesn’t make any sense. They are not giving any new knowledge about the “how” part.  Covid19 will have a new normal which will be different from normal. That’s it. 
One thing which I like about this situation is that organizations are challenged and without much discussion everybody accepted the change of working from home & new way of working. In a normal situation, there would have been a lot of excuses for not doing it. Another change is mindset change. In a normal situation, it would have been the change management project with a big team and perhaps 1-2 years project. In this situation, it is just fast. What I feel is that this situation is extraordinary, a once in a decade event. We should enjoy this and find out some positives from this but don’t be carried away with what it means. Is it perfect? No. Still employees have a lot of challenges & organizations have to work on this. 
My take about this situation is as under:
Create an urgency & Just do it: During normal situations, we tend to discuss a lot and delay a lot of projects, ideas & decisions just because we are not sure about the same. Most of the time, it is just courage and confidence which lacks. Ideas are discussed, but not implemented because management doesn’t create the sense of urgency. During Covid19, this urgency is created by the situation and of course by the government.      
Digitalization is not because of Covid19. Covid19 just forced you to use this. Organizations can spend more on the infrastructure now.
Work from home is again not because of Covid19, most of the companies have their work from home policy. Companies like yahoo withdrew work from home policy in 2003. However, Covid19 just forced it and challenged organizations. It is a high time to invest into infrastructure to make it effective.
Work from home does not mean work life balance. Few employees tend to work more, and supervisors may take you for granted. Your availability is always expected.  In fact, work from home needs more professionalism and discipline. Organizations need to work on how to manage this.
Work from home is not always productive. Manufacturing companies can’t work from home and neither do their supervisors & managers. Lot of things happen on the shop floor.
Till we get the vaccine to fight the Covid19, we need to work on developing our immune system. We also need to change our habits and need to be more hygienic. Social distancing will be the new norm and naturally this will have the impact on few businesses. Possibly this will also increase the consumption of foods & consumables at home. People may use their own vehicles and it may help the economy to grow in 2021.
(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)
Please read the print replica of my latest book written for leaders on amazon kindle; Vitality in Human Resource


Lalita Vasu said...

Very well written. I can connect a lot with the CSR part !

Avdhut Musle said...

Yet another practical article in a row. The point I liked the most in the article is, "Create an urgency & Just do it."

Vishal Bhange said...

Very Nice Article. But (unfortunately) Vocal/Non Verbal communication is impacting badly on virtual connect. People have changed their tone, pitch, volume, Pace, Phrasing etc. This is may be we (Manufacturing companies) are not familiar with such virtual connect. There is huge improvement I can see in this type of communication.

Nitin Shinde said...

Well elaborated..... 👌👌👌

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