The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many facets of our lives, particularly the world of work. At the height of the current pandemic when economies, sectors, and organizations grappled with an increasingly new and complex reality – digital tools and technology, enabled work to continue seamlessly despite a distributed workforce. While there was no doubt in the pre-pandemic era that there was enormous economic potential, the Covid-19 situation simply amplified the benefits, productivity dividend, and agility that digitization can bring even when there is a great deal of uncertainty. The current pace of accelerated digitization is wielding profound changes in the way people live and work.
Filling talent gapsThe impact of digitization has enforced organizations to rethink and retool everything that they do both internally and externally. The end result is that both workers and companies have to adjust quickly to the new reality and lend their skills where they can be most useful which has further emphasized the need for upskilling and reskilling. Taking advantage of the various online resources available, many of them for free – a record number of employers and employees in their individual capacity have recently invested in the development of their skills and competencies owing to fears of a job threat and to tap to the window of opportunity that these new skills would make them more employable in the future. As a consequence, we can anticipate a reinvigorated drive towards upskilling and reskilling going forward.
Safely back to work
Most organizations are now at a critical juncture as they execute a phased shift from remote work to restart operations and support their employees to return to the workplace. It is not easy to determine the short and long-term strategy within the requirements of the new physical distancing economy. At a high level, organizations will have to go through a systematic planning exercise and review their safe return to work plan keeping in view the financial impact, adjustment of their cost structure, additional investments, and the operational contingencies that need to be considered. In doing so, they should be clear about their expectations of behavior and compliance around physical distancing, hygiene, and the other crucial elements of disease prevention.
Besides, the urgent need to shift to a remote working model during the outbreak to safeguard employees while still continuing to serve customers and maintain business continuity has made remote working the new normal. With the digital workspace becoming a reality at such a large scale, more companies are likely to stick to this as a long-term solution and method of working together. The benefits are manifold – reduction in real estate cost, technology spend coupled with minimum disruption on employee productivity and morale, leaves little reason for companies to move back to the traditional way of working even when normalcy returns.
Massive opportunity to hire great talent
The pandemic has had an indelible effect on the chance to hire talented people at a time when they have trouble finding or keeping jobs elsewhere. The staffing industry can make the most of it, preparing the ground for a quick post-crisis recovery and growth by notably shifting priorities to hire some of this talent. The industry can capitalize on the sourcing potential of picking candidates from sectors affected by varying degrees of severity during this period.
The staffing industry has a vital role to play in helping workers and organizations navigate these massive workforce shifts if we make responsible choices. It is important to bear in mind that any and all measures that we take today will have a lasting impact on economic recovery. To do so we must have a clear understanding of the potential risks and set clear priorities that can be translated to a reliable and agile response strategy. If we succeed, we will turn today’s opportunities into a reality that will make the future work safe, inclusive, and robust.
Marco Valsecchi is Country Manager & Managing Director of The Adecco Group, India. Views expressed are the author’s personal.