5 Challenges in the Changed Workplace
For some people, things have not changed much despite the pandemic, lockdown and social/physical distancing. I am talking about the white-collar jobholders who are still engaged in an active work life. After the initial hiccup when the management found ways around lockdown to continue the workforce, they shifted from the physical world to virtual. The transition may have been challenging in the beginning but by now these professionals have improvised and are most certainly used to working in this new environment.
While many people are losing their business or getting laid off, working from home has guaranteed these employees some financial security. However, the shift in workspace comes with its own set of challenges and they are fast adapting and adjusting to this new working environment. Both employers and employees are struggling together to maintain a balance between keeping the business afloat and ensuring the personnel’s mental wellbeing. Here we are discussing the 5 challenges people could face in the new working environment.
You may want to read this article: 10 Lockdown Self-discoveries
5 Workplace Challenges
- Communicating with the team: All communications are happening virtually because of which human elements are missing from the interactions. During a face to face conversation, a person does not only communicate verbally but non-verbally as well. The nuances in their tone of voice, facial expressions, and change in their body language – all these are vital in understanding a person’s reaction. The online platforms are taking these nuances away from communication. Therefore, the management must be careful not to create misunderstanding or miscommunication. Perhaps, after a group meeting, they could break into a smaller cluster to clear any communication gap and they could also have a one-to-one conversation with each team member.
- Acknowledge the difference: It is important to understand and acknowledge that things are different, both for employees as well as employers. This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented measures and although the leadership must take the bigger chunk of responsibility, the smooth running of an organization will not be possible without the support and assistance from the subordinates. Both parties must understand that even though the organization is open for business, business is definitely not as usual. This is a crucial moment where employees, as well as employers, must use empathy and understanding, as the situation is new for all, to support one another and work towards the common goal.
- Genuine leadership: This is a testing time for leadership in every organization. Not only do they have a challenge to keep the business alive and healthy, they must also ensure that the employees too stay alive and healthy. Many organizations are conducting online workshops for stress management and mental wellbeing. Even with the best of intentions, if the leadership conducts such workshops without consulting with the employees, it may feel more like an imposition than good intention. This could create more stress and the very purpose of “stress management” is defeated right from the beginning. Genuine leadership requires empathy and authenticity which comes from transparent communication and understanding of what the employees are in need of instead of assumption. Therefore, before organizing any training or workshops, the management could do an internal survey. Such a simple gesture could bring out positivity in the workers as this shows genuine concern and the willingness to help.
- Expectations and Outcomes: Since people are working from home, their family members might invade their workspace and also disrupt their workflow. The family, the household, and other domesticity could cause distractions which could affect the productivity of both employers and employees. Therefore, expectations, targets, and outcomes must be weighed and calculated keeping the new environment in mind. Expecting the same result when the modus operandi has shifted from office space to home-sweet-home can lead to disappointment. Therefore both the employees and the employers must keep their expectations to an achievable level and be prepared for changes in outcomes.
- Trust: This is a frightening time for everybody with the virus threat ever hanging over the heads like the Sword of Damocles. To add to this fright, there is the usual fight for survival. While many people have already lost their livelihood, some who are still employed have their own share of struggles. Therefore in this trying time, the most important concern is building and maintaining trust. This is, of course, a two-way trust, both employers and employees must trust each other. Only then the business which may be faltering now will flourish soon. Keeping in mind all the challenges above, trust is that one key that can help tide things over. Employees must trust the decisions the management is taking perhaps with a pinch of salt. The employers on the other hand must trust that the people are putting in their best effort even when the outcome may not be as expected.
The novel virus has created novelty not only in the way people live but also in the way they work. The new normal has forced people to adapt to different ways of living and working. The work-life has changed and while it is important to have a job for obvious reasons, it is important for organizations to acknowledge the immense threat that is affecting everyone physically, mentally and financially.The burden on mental health as a result of the change in the physical environment and financial insecurity is increasing every day.
It is indeed a testing time for the workforce – from the perspective of both employers and employees. With a little empathy, a little concern and enough goodwill, this threat too shall pass and with a little trust and a little compassion let us hope that business will resume as usual.