How work culture is getting reinvented, and women’s important role in the new normal

In the run-up to Women’s Day this year, Adgully has been coming up with a series of articles, feature reports, interactions and #TwitterChat episodes highlighting the achievements of our formidable women in the workforce as well as women leaders who have been successfully steering their teams and organisations through the uncharted waters in the post-pandemic world.

The last two episodes of Adully’s #TwitterChat dealt with women centric topics – Essence of a true women leader and Empowering women leaders of tomorrow.

As part of the #TwitterChat discussion held just before International Women’s Day on March 8, the focus turned to “Creating A More Conducive Environment For Women In Post-Pandemic Times”. While women have been breaking through glass ceilings at the workplace, the overall women workforce in the country – and even globally – remains a dismally low as compared to be the male workforce.

The new normal is beset with new challenges as well as opportunities and navigating through uncharted waters. Even as offices reopen, albeit with new norms and new equations in place, a sizeable chunk of the workforce continues to work from home (WFH). Indeed, throughout the last year, our homes converted into offices, and with that also entered all the issues attached with the usual office life.

While in the pre-COVID era, there was a clear demarcation between work and home life, in the WFH era the lines are blurred. With the office now entering our homes via virtual meetings, constant calls, long work hours, family life has been disrupted, especially in homes where there is paucity of space. There is no respite from work and a fatigue is setting in somewhere.

Along with this, there is also a very worrisome reality that many may not be open to talk about – that of harassment in the virtual work place. Earlier, one’s home would provide a refuge from office stress, but in the new normal the harassment has followed women home. A safe workplace is every employee’s – men or women – right. So, how do organisations ensure a safe work workplace for women in the post-pandemic times?

Along with providing a safe work environment, a conducive workplace that offers ample upskilling and growth opportunities that will prepare the women workforce for the new normal is also the need of the hour.

Adgully’s #TwitterChat on ‘Creating A More Conducive Environment For Women In Post-Pandemic Times’ delved on a host of new issues that are going to face the women workforce in the coming times and how organisations and leaders need to address these issues and prepare for the future workplace.

Taking part in the discussions were:

Suma Nair, Vice President, Head of Marketing, CNBC Cluster, CNN-News18, Forbes India

Atul Sharma, Managing Director, Ruder Finn, President, PRCAI

Esha Nagar, Managing Director, Nepa India

Sunchika Pandey, Founder, HAT Media

Shankar Iyer, Head - Customer Success, Infobip

Dr. Subi Chaturvedi, Chief Corporate Affairs & Communication Officer, Zupee

We began the conversation by asking the panelists about the challenges they faced in creating a condusive environment in post-pandemic times.

Iyer began the round of answers and said, "One major challenge I see is women in a particular section of the society have to find the right balance between extended work hours and managing daily house chores for being at home. In fact, more so for women with young kids!"

Giving her perspective, Pandey says, "Not sure if it’s a challenge as such since we are of online, by online, for online kind of setup but lack of face to face interactions, discussions over a cup of tea, being able to understand right intention behind a reaction- that’s tough virtually"

Speaking on the aspect of home and work life balance, Nagar says, "Absorbing the balancing visual of home and work. Now that WFH normalisation is here to stay, we had to add sufficient and required flex to our HR practices."

Adding to this, Sharma says, "Getting everybody to tune into the hybrid work environment; WFH and OFO (Operating from office) will be the new norm; maintaining high levels of hygiene and safety in line with government guidelines."

Talking about physical and mental well being of employees, Chaturvedi says, "It'll have to be making people feel safe outside their houses - physically & mentally. This is an opportunity to start afresh with work environments that promote physical and mental well-being of the employees. Creating safe spaces that are inclusive & diverse."

Nair brings an end to the first round of answers and says, "While work is happening efficiently, technology has enabled a lot of it. How to handle the personal interactions such as motivating people, judging their emotions ,addressing concerns, the finer nuances become a bit challenging."

We then move onto a very interesting question and ask the panelists about the effect of the new normal on work culture.

Talking about empathy and trust, Nagar says, "The new normal is bringing in volumes of empathy & trust in leadership styles I would say. Also making diversity, adaptability and inclusion “non-negotiables” in a company’s work culture."

Chaturvedi adds to this and says, "Work culture : Finding the right balance between agility/ flexibility and output while also making the workplace a safe space for all employees innovation is no longer just a product/solution it is also how a company like Zupee functions reinventing repurposing."

Iyer talks about the effect on Infobip and says, "At Infobip Flexi hours, Trainings, socializing were some of the makeshifts which kept the force motivated. Being considerate, empathetic and have trust. An annoying phone ring in a meeting and a kid peeping in the videocall is not at the same level of distraction anymore!"

Sharma talks about hybrid working cultures and says, "The new hybrid work environment is here to stay, at RF we leveraged technology to collaborate and engage across offices; the millennial workforce is super charged, we can see them shuffling between the two worlds with super ease."

Pandey gives her perspective and says, "The new normal has prepared us for a work culture that was due to arrive in the years to come, but was brought forward due to pandemic. A positive, that we are learning to discipline ourselves even when working from comforts of our home or ‘destination working’."

Nair talks about reinventing work culture and says, "Entrepreneurial spirit, agility & contributing towards a larger organizational goal is how work culture is getting reinvented. Also, the ownership of delivery is higher as the metric has changed from number of hours of work to tasks competed."

Catch the complete conversation on Twitter and follow @adgully for our weekly #TwitterChats every Friday from 3pm to 4pm.


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