Work from Home – Now & Future

Subramanyam S, Founder, President & CEO, AscentHRSubramanyam is an entrepreneur with immense experience in Finance, Legal and Business management.

1. What are the implications of Work from home and the role of HRs in this?
Role of HR in the last decade was largely focused on talent acquisition. The current WFH scenario has given a big opportunity in positioning HR as a business driver as opposed to simply managing the employee lifecycle. People practice will tend to get more sensitive and HR is positioned to add value in not just hiring but engaging, inspiring, and mentoring a diverse workforce which is more disparate. WFH demands the person to be a more individual contributor in the role. This ability to be independent was not an expectation earlier and HR should help them transition from a team-player to an individual contributor while staying aligned with the goals of the company.

2. Do you see any shift in gender balance in the workforce post work from home scenario?
There would be a positive shift of gender balance in favour of women workers. The constraints of transport and working late in offices had always hit career progression of women and this change is a boon in disguise. There would be an increase in the number of working women which also would help industry in these times by way of cost arbitrage as well as talent arbitrage.
3. Do you think the work from home to stay longer?
This is mostly a now normal situation, not a permanent new normal as a practice, which may reduce as the fear of the pandemic abates. However, this is likely to last for at least a year or so and by then WFH would be an accepted practice as it is in the US and other developed countries and will remain a method of workspace.

4. What are the critical issues of workmen, wages?
The critical issues for workmen are not wages, but rather how to protect jobs. The impact of COVID would increase dependency on automation and would eliminate transaction level jobs which would have a huge impact by way of joblessness for fresher’s and lower wages or lesser jobs for bottom of the pyramid jobs. Hence, we will see both the extremes of wage rationalisation in all categories of jobs while witnessing a spike in new employee benefits which will be adopted by industry voluntarily to attract better talent.

The critical issues for workmen are not wages, but rather how to protect jobs

5. How can labour laws be made simpler to aid ease of doing business while ensuring worker's rights are protected?
Labour laws have been obsolete and need to be changed given the changing economy and changing practices of employment. Hence, while protecting wage and service conditions in a limited way as a self-regulated practice, the Govt. should eliminate license raj and usher in a self-governance-based practices, with periodic audit by an independent professional, which will rank people practices and make it an adopted regulation, as opposed to an imposed regulation.

6. Job loss and layoffs, hiring trends in this COVID times.
Jobs will reduce in the lower end and entry level and hence chances of imminent crisis in that regard is likely. The government should not panic and encourage entrepreneurship which by itself should drive employment creation and reach stable levels as existing pre-COVID times. Hiring trends will also be seen only in some industries for the next one year but once the economy picks up in a year or so, hiring should resume its normal trends and go on.

7. What do you think the future of HR post-COVID-19?
HR would elevate itself as a business driver and COVID is a huge opportunity for the fraternity in such transformation. Diverse workforce which is fully equipped, aligned, and committed is the need of the hour in improving our economy and is a wonderful God-send for HR to play an active and decisive role in such change.