‘COVID-19 is a disruptor & a reality checker for decision-makers’: Federal Bank, Executive VP & CHRO


The COVID-19 crisis has brought sea-level changes across workplaces. And as companies continue to navigate the new normal, they are exploring methods to think globally and act locally.

TimesJobs exclusively spoke to
Ajith Kumar K K, Executive VP & CHRO, Federal Bank on how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to transform the future of work and workplaces.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

What dramatic shifts have COVID-19 pandemic caused in the HR landscape?

90% of the workforce was not familiar with working from home. Even though we are all equipped with internet, laptop, and collaboration tools, we believed in the physical space for work to happen. Now teams have become virtual and staying productive. The line managers are rising up to the expectations managing their teams giving hope and a new sense of direction. The HR teams will have to reinvent themselves and come up with this ‘new context’ engagement strategies.

In the wake of COVID-19, three ways how the future of jobs will change?

Remote working will be the new normal. People will get used to working from home for longer periods of time and staying productive can make them and their leaders feel that things can work out even without physical presence. A new sense of responsibility, urgency, and adaptability will emerge and are already happening with many teams. That will encourage them to work from home effectively and a new protocol of virtual work can emerge. Some of the careers can get shifted to a series of projects. There is a huge scope for super-specialists who can work from anywhere in the world and can add niche and extreme value to the Organisation and execute things in a time bound manner. Enterprises will start using more gig resources.

What kind of professionals and skills will be in demand by organisations post-COVID-19 lockdown?

As teams are going to be more and more virtual, a new set of skills will emerge as winners. Virtual collaboration requires a high level of work ethic, robust communication skills, and problem-solving using niche skills. There would be demand for niche skills in digital, analytics, strategy, research, content management, and automation. Learning and development will need content creators who can engage learners and will be a highly result-oriented game. The enterprises mostly would need high-end sales skills and would need managers who can optimise resources by leveraging the gig economy.

How has the COVID-19 lockdown changed the roots of the employee experience mandate?
The physical employee experience of coming to the office and socialising with peers and colleagues would shift to online platforms. The non-verbal communication which contributed significantly to the team bonding is shifting to the matter of fact yet highly expressive virtual communication. Every employer consciously tries to develop a sense of belongingness to the Organisation through so many tiny things that accumulated to the total employee experience. And shifting those to the remote teams would be a big challenge. Even after the lockdowns, because of the stricter social distancing norms, only a fewer set of people can work from physical spaces. That would urge enterprises to come up with new experience models for employees to stay belonged, engaged, and motivated. We will see new habits people developed during the lockdown and the self-reflections they would have done impacting their quality of work and the way they engage with the rest of the people.

Mention the key trends that will drive the HR space in the coming years?

COVID-19 is a disruptor and a strong reality checker enabling decision-makers and teams to reprioritise their businesses and lives. This can lead to a significant shift from physical to remote working. Many tech companies would move completely to distributed teams. The banking sector will see the good talent coming in as the other sectors would have a serious slowdown because of an impending global recession.

Large organisations can become a network of teams focused on the larger goal yet functioning independently leveraging the internet and virtual collaboration.

More and more enterprises will be open to working with specialists outside the organisation even on mission-critical areas like strategy, digital transformation, research, analytics, and change management projects. The gig economy will emerge and can help enterprises to use the globally distributed talent who are cost-effective and timebound.



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