In retrospect, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our society, fundamentally altering the way we work. Businesses across the globe have faced unprecedented challenges, compelling them to adapt to a new reality. While some have struggled to recover, others who successfully embraced digital transformation have thrived as we resume normal operations.
In 2021, amidst the escalating pandemic, rockbird media organized a virtual event that brought together esteemed HR leaders from various industries. During the panel discussion, prominent figures such as the CHRO of UnionBank of the Philippines, the Director and Regional Head of Talent & Development at DB Schenker, the Head of the Talent Center of Competence at Nestle, and the Founder and CEO of Hehsed engaged in a conversation on the topic, “Beyond Pandemic: The Workforce in the Digital Age”.
Many organizations adopted the digital shift. The learnings gained from navigating the crisis remain highly relevant in today’s landscape.
Accelerated Digital Transformation
The pandemic accelerated the rise of the digital economy, pushing businesses to become completely digital and introduce contactless channels, whether between individuals, companies, governments, or across borders.
The digital mandate is not a new concept; however, the pandemic has brought it into sharp focus. The shift towards digitization was already underway, but the global crisis has accelerated this transformation. As a result, organizations had to adapt swiftly to this new digital landscape to remain competitive.
Institutionalizing Remote Work
Virtual collaboration, remote, and hybrid work is here to stay. In the past three years, these practices have become the standard. For HR practitioners, this shift poses challenges in terms of establishing effective communication channels and maintaining a sense of collaboration and creativity in a virtual environment. In traditional office settings, spontaneous interactions or the watercooler moments can often lead to valuable discussions and idea generation. Replicating these organic moments in a virtual setting requires intentional effort and the implementation of appropriate tools and strategies.
Moreover, HR practitioners must lead by example, create psychological safety, and acknowledge the lack of control in an uncontrollable environment. Interventions like team-building activities and virtual communities of interest can foster a sense of community and combat isolation.
Skills and Self-Organization
The shift to remote work during the pandemic required individuals to possess self-organization skills to balance conflicting priorities effectively. HR departments should equip employees with the necessary tools and training to manage their routines efficiently. Managers also play a crucial role in understanding the needs of their teams and providing support on both professional and non-professional fronts.
Leadership, Innovation, and Culture
There are three essential factors to consider for successful digital transformation.
First, leadership plays a critical role in instigating and inspiring the team even in a virtual setup. Leaders need to possess characteristics that emphasize their ability to bring teams together, inspire them, and embark on a collective journey.
Secondly, innovation has become a determining factor for the survival and prosperity of companies after the crisis. Organizations that have made significant investments in innovation, incorporating it into their products, services, and human capital, are in a better position to thrive.
Lastly, a culture that is empathetic and supportive, particularly in terms of mental health and well-being, can drive employee loyalty and productivity. Prioritizing employee-centricity allows leaders to cultivate empathy, acknowledge challenges, and embrace vulnerability. This kind of culture is very important in dealing with ambiguous times, and it’s also important for preparing for future challenges, as there will be more crises in the future. Building resilience is crucial for long-term transformation and growth.
The digital era has ushered in a new era of work, propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move forward it is clear that digitization will continue to shape the future of work, and organizations must embrace innovation to adapt and flourish in an ever-evolving landscape.