Adapting to the new post-coronavirus working world


Adapting to the new post-coronavirus working world

Uncertainty and hope amidst COVID-19 crisis

Little was known about what was to come this year as the foreword to the Global Human Capital Trends 2020 report was being written: this decade has begun amidst uncertainty and we seem to be heading for a period in the same vein once again. Disbelief gripped the entire world in early 2020 with the appearance of COVID-19 and changed life as we knew it. In March, more than a third of humanity was locked up. At the end of April, 1.6 billion workers had no job security.

However, in the midst of tragedy and uncertainty there was some hope. And people and countries have responded with empathy and strength. Companies, although they considered some drastic options, many of them have taken measures focused on protecting the welfare and safety of their workers.

In this year’s report, we invited organizations to question whether people and technology were really in conflict. In each chapter, we show how organizations that embrace a new set of attributes anchored in purpose, potential and perspective can create lasting value for themselves, their team and society at large.

The coronavirus has confirmed that human targets are not isolated from technological advances and can be integrated. As organizations seek to adapt their ways of working to respond to the crisis, they are finding that, in many – though not all – parts of the world, technology is not the biggest challenge. In countries where it is, the crisis highlights the digital divide in some regions and rural areas.

In countries where technology is available, one of the biggest obstacles is the lack of difficulty in developing models to integrate to create new habits and management practices so that people adapt, behave and work in partnership with the tools they have at their disposal. This crisis presents an opportunity for companies to combine technological and human elements.

New labor normality: creating opportunities

COVID-19 has challenged business leaders to do three things at once: organize the return to work, understand and build on the progress they have made during the crisis, and chart a new way forward. Focusing solely on the return to work is not a viable option, as it will not allow organizations to capitalize on all that they have experienced and learned over the past few months. Instead, we believe that organizations should adopt the perspective of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who explains that human beings who want to adapt in an era of acceleration must develop “dynamic stability.” Rather than trying to stop an inevitable storm of change, Friedman encourages leaders to “build an eye that moves with the storm, that draws energy from it, but creates a platform of dynamic stability within the adversities.”

Leading organizations will have the opportunity to get back to work designing new ways, employing lessons and practices they have built during their accelerated response to the crisis. Below, we offer insight on how to begin that process by leveraging this year’s human capital trends, a set of thoughts, recommendations and frameworks that we believe are more critical than ever as companies head toward recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point: an opportunity to consciously reflect on what has happened in recent weeks and months.

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