Organizational design for a hybrid future of work

A ‘Future of Work trends post-COVID-19′ study brought out key elements for leaders to focus on as they rethink organizational design in the …

A Gartner study, ‘Future of Work Trends post-COVID-19’, has highlighted, “After the global financial crisis, global M&A activity accelerated, and many companies were nationalized to avoid failure. As the pandemic subsides, there will be a similar acceleration of M&A and nationalization of companies. Companies will focus on expanding their geographic diversification and investment in secondary markets to mitigate and manage risk in times of disruption. This rise in complexity of size and organizational management will create challenges for leaders as operating models evolve.”

Gartner also noted in recent studies that smart companies can no longer just design for the most efficient way to get things done – “they have to design for efficiency AND resilience.”

Where are employers today in this journey of organizational redesign? What organizational structures are leaders planning for in times to come? Let’s find out!

The current status of organizational redesign: Flexible, fluid, experimentative, agile

The overnight rush into remote working sent organizations into a spin, one that caused tremendous panic and accelerated the adoption of tech to minimize damage to operations, communication and in the bigger picture, business. Nine months into the pandemic, global institutions, public and private have found a temporary fix in remote working, however, going by the likelihood of safety restrictions remaining a priority post-COVID, organizations are becoming experimentative and fluid with how they approach work, working environment, expectations and employee relations. In the present day, the key words are flexibility in mindset and agility to transform and adapt.

Upon launching its new ‘Agile Working Models’ policy aimed at moving towards a “trust and outcome-based working culture” and to give more flexibility to its employees, Tata Steel’s VP Human Resource Management, Suresh Dutt Tripathi, said that flexible working not only portrays an organization’s intent to create a workplace for the upcoming generations but also solidifies its intent to cater to the needs of its diversified workforce across geographies. “Flexible working provides greater freedom to choose locations and make essential life decisions such as supporting families, be it ageing parents or spouses with non-transferrable jobs. This will help in retaining and enriching our key talent from across the country and attract workforce for location agnostic roles.”

Sharing his organization’s approach to the post-COVID workplace design, Birlasoft’s Chief Delivery Officer, Shreeranganath Kulkarni said, “As we rapidly adapted to the new normal of remote working, we realized that a new way of working requires more work ownership to deliver seamless services to the client with no disruption.”

“At Birlasoft, we have developed a governance model where large teams are shrunk into microcosms (smaller agile teams) with clear ownership and accountability of deliverables,” noted Kulkarni.

He added that the teams are balanced with feasible and achievable workloads to ensure minimal business disruption and zero downtime for customers, while also not overstressing their employees. “This model will gradually evolve to ‘work-from-anywhere’ in the future.”

Intel India’s Sr. HR Director, Anjali Rao said, “Intel’s workplace transformation is rooted in experience and backed by industry-leading technology innovation that continually focuses on the future. To successfully pivot our workforce while maintaining business operations, we made numerous changes across design site operations, supply chain, sales and marketing, human resources and finance. We have simplified workflows and added new capabilities to support remote working, fine-tuning multiple platforms to both enable and accelerate collaboration, to help employees seamlessly connect, contribute and learn.”

Speaking of the emerging ‘hybrid workplace’ concept, Ruchi Bhalla, Country Head – India Delivery Centers & VP HR (APAC), Pitney Bowes commented, “Modern employees will not be geographically bound, so organizations that embrace the remote/hybrid workplace model, evolve internal structures to facilitate dispersed teams and successfully reskill employees are more likely to be successful in the new normal.” The organization is giving its employees the option of working from office and is focused on transcending the organization’s culture beyond the physical office space. “Backed by advanced IT infrastructure, the new model will give employees options of both physical and virtual interactions, and allow them to seamlessly work in a virtual environment while managing their professional and personal lives. Employees will be multi-faceted and will more readily adopt newer technologies like Cloud Computing; AI & Big Data Analytics; Cybersecurity; Mobile & Web Development and IoT, along with soft skills to thrive in a virtual/hybrid work environment.”

What the future looks like?

A recurring theme across organizations is that of a hybrid workplace, one that allows employees the flexibility to choose between working from home or office, or even co-working spaces and satellite offices, whatever works best for employees, ensuring no compromise on productivity and well-being. Investments are now seeing an uptick in creating ‘COVID-safe’ workplaces, and parallelly bringing in latest tech to streamline processes, and boost efficiency and effectiveness of a distributed workforce.

Speaking of future plans, Sushant Patnaik,  Head-HR at Aeris Communications shared, “Once the situation improves, we plan to look at the staggering resumption, perhaps starting with 10% of employees working from office on need basis to gradually taking cautious steps towards normalization. For us, employee health and well-being remain our foremost priority. We plan to have an app-based advance office seat booking facility, regular health monitoring of employees, daily office sanitization – among other measures.”

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