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By Nico Strydom

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns irrevocably changed the workplace in many respects.

Different levels of lockdown resulted in people sometimes having to work from home and when they are at the office, masks have to be worn and other protocols have to be complied with. Experts are of the opinion that the impact of Covid-19 will be evident for a very long time in spite of the progress made in combating the pandemic.

“Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns fundamentally changed the way in which we as people live, work, raise our children, do shopping, as well as entertainment and interaction with the world around us,” says Georgina Barrick, executive director at ADvTECH’s Network Contracting Solutions. “And although we hoped in the beginning that the disruption caused by the strict lockdown would have passed by now, we must accept that that some of the things we thought would be only temporary changes and adaptations, are here now to stay. ”

According to Barrick there can be no question of “when things return to normal” as in the first few months of the pandemic. “We now understand that there is no turning back. Although these radical, dynamic and ongoing changes are creating daily challenges to leadership, it is also true that it offers unique opportunities to recalibrate and go forward positively, with an understanding of the changes, challenges and the strategy that is necessary.”

Barrick mentions six clear trends that are now becoming evident and points to the new direction in the world of work.

A hybrid working model

Remote working as seen in 2020 is now gradually being replaced by a hybrid home and/or office work model. Barrick says something should be done to create the right culture for hybrid teams – a culture that uses technology and positive internal communication to get all team members ready and bring them together irrespective of where they live.

Eventually thought should also be given to the creation of “pulling factors” for office space, to encourage social interaction and active involvement, so that time spent in the office deals with cooperation and team-based projects, while tasks that need more introspection and quiet and can be performed alone,  are  done at home.

A flatter organisational structure

As a result of the way in which technology has improved the flow of information, more undertakings are  adopting flatter organisational structures and enjoy the benefits of lower operating costs, improved communication and increased motivation.

Continuous development

Post-Covid-19, continuous and fast changes, developing technology and increasing information, make continuous development imperative, not only to outdo the competition, but also to fill the unavoidable gaps in skills, says Barrick. There must be continuous development of a combination of the right hard and soft skills.

Higher employee turnover

As the pandemic subsides, a long slow-down in the system will cause many people to stop working, change jobs or emigrate and undertakings must brace themselves for a higher employee turnover, is Barrick’s warning.

A non-permanent workforce

Barrick says as the turnover and the skills gap increase, a non-permanent workforce will be pivotal to the talent strategy of the undertaking. Specialists who can handle short-term projects, handle the current issues or can fill talent gaps are in demand.

Sustainable pace non-negotiable

The only real long-term solution to a non-sustainable pace due to the pandemic is to create a sustainable pace. This means choosing projects carefully, mastering the art of saying no, finding time in your diary for a breather and quickly stopping things that don’t work out. The price for a non-sustainable pace is burnout and nobody can really afford it.

“While we continue to try and function optimally in our current environment, it is essential that we identify the lessons of the past year-and-a-half and learn from them to make sure that we smooth the road ahead as much as possible.”

 

Sources

Network Contracting Solutions: https://www.networkcontracting.co.za/

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