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Covid-19: Supernova 2X as we re-invent businesses and re-define teamwork

Covid-19: Supernova 2X as we re-invent businesses and re-define teamwork

By Keshav Murugesh

The year 2007 presented what Thomas Friedman famously called the ‘Supernova’ – a technology revolution that saw unprecedented advancement in software, storage, silicon chips and networking. It was the year we were introduced to the iPhone, Android, Kindle, GitHub; the year that forever changed the way we engage with and consume technology.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us yet another, and what I believe, a far bigger Supernova moment – a massive explosion that has nudged us towards a transformation we never knew could be achieved in such a short span of time. It has completely changed the way we live and how we work. Supernova 2X is what I would like to call it, as it literally brought the future forward in days, if not hours!

At a time when businesses could have easily fallen into a decision paralysis, the crisis has, on the contrary, led them to an unprecedented celerity and unison in decision-making. What forward-looking business leaders had predicted about the future, has unrolled in mere weeks.

We saw how most organizations managed to quickly move a bulk of their workforce to work-from-home without compromising on data security and keeping up with the social distancing imperative. The pandemic forced this huge logistical shift to be implemented on a war footing, something we had never done before. Now, teams are remotely working and high-impact decisions are being taken on spreadsheets and video-conferencing calls. The numbers say it all — the video conferencing app Zoom’s daily users surged from 10 million in December last year to a staggering 300 million in April 2020.

This has given way to re-defined teamwork, a virtual collaborative environment, which has been the anchor to this transformation. Businesses have started looking at the advantages of this culture which could provide them an opportunity to create new streams of talent and mainstream a huge untapped workforce, at optimized costs. Think undergraduates who can effectively contribute as part-time employees or women workforce who worry about being able to balance work and home. It has also led organizations to gain insights into the functions and processes for which remote working possibilities can be considered even after we emerge out of the pandemic. Organizations will be willing to invest in effective holding environments for such workforce to ensure productivity and consistency of delivery.

As businesses quickly adapt to this change, the importance of ‘working as one’, even in isolation is starkly evident. Harvard University’s emeritus professor Michael Beer in his book Fit to Compete stresses on how efforts to transform in times of uncertainty will fail if the transformation strategy does not involve the whole organization. He goes on to say how people affected by these changes need to feel involved in the process, and encouraged to discover problems and find solutions together. The need for teams to break organizational silos and work in unison has never been this critical. It is the organizations that keep up with this way of working that will thrive this year and beyond.

Covid-19 has effectively blurred the lines between personal and professional, in a positive way. The pandemic has changed the definition of business values beyond just the profits and ROIs but something that is much more human. Businesses have adopted a ‘people-first’ approach as business prerogatives and personal impact have blended. When the crisis struck, employee safety became paramount and corporates went out of their way to take care of communities.

Also, businesses are paying better attention to going digital. Strategic investments in building digital capacities remain, and will continue to be, a priority. Creating a robust digital roadmap will be key to achieving targets and enhancing customer experience besides cost reduction.

We must remember that we have experienced digital adoption, speed and efficiency like never before. Our response time for urgent action has significantly reduced. We are embracing a work culture which is anchored in redefined teamwork, virtual connectivity, digital transformation and unprecedented rapidity.

We don’t know what the post-Covid era will throw at us, neither can we accurately predict the consumer behaviour or the market dynamics. What we do know, however, is that businesses will have to expunge the traditional ways of working and keep up with the agile and flexible processes that this crisis has made them incorporate into their core strategy. This is the time to pivot business models, to be open to flexible work options for employees, to enhance capabilities for accelerated roll-out of productivity solutions, to increase digital capacities and to continue ‘working as one’. With this, we are already positioning ourselves for sustenance and growth in the phase of recovery and revitalization post the pandemic.

(The author is Group CEO, WNS Global Services, and Past Chairman, NASSCOM)

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