Earlier this month, a circular made
rounds in the area I live in. This singular piece of virtually shared
information made what was physically impossible during Covid-induced lockdown a
possibility. Alleviating the shared agony of all residents in just five clearly
articulated bullet points, it stamped the re-entry of house maids after government
restrictions were lifted! Victory was ours, after all.
After having worked from home and “for” home for over 2 months, this news was the brightest spot in the Covid-19 darkness. I could now focus on productive things, while outsourcing self-peace-depleting tasks to another human who not only managed these tasks with flair and efficiency but did it because it helped her run her house. For her, coming ‘back to work’ meant ease in putting food on the table, giving her kids a decent shot at life and living her life with dignity.
As with all other things (education
included!), the coronavirus pandemic created a digital divide so deep and steep
that it affected the lesser privileged, taking away their only source of
income. Relaxing the terms on allowing a person outside of your family into
your home was akin to restoring the balance of the world (for this side of the
world at least!). But when the same was replicated in organizations, the
sentiments ranged from fear to anger.
About one-third of businesses in Canada surveyed by the CFIB reported that they are struggling to get workers back into their pre-pandemic jobs with some people doing a risk-reward calculation and comparing getting $2,000 to stay at home or making $2,500 to go to work full-time, according to CTVNews. In Singapore, almost one in three employees don’t feel safe returning to work, as per Circuit Breaker. While in another extreme, the Manitoba government is willing to pay residents up to $2,000 if they go back to work and stop collecting federal COVID-19 benefits.
But go back to work we ought to!
Back to work
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath is one of the biggest business challenges of our time. Amid mounting economic turmoil, executives are increasingly guarded in their outlook—only one in five chief financial officers surveyed by PwC said they believed their companies could resume “business as usual” within a month if the crisis ended today.
New reports, OSHA guidelines have been issued to suggest how to safely get employees back to work. Further, to sensitize the workforce, Know Your Rights empowers workers on know-how about what employers are required to do to keep them safe on the job, as well as what to do if they’re sick and how to report violations of state and federal rules.
One way or the other, our love
affair with digital seems to have come to an abrupt end as organizations implement
a return to work policy. After months of digital skilling and training on remote
working, the workforce now sets upon an unlearning journey to wean themselves
off all things tech!
“Illiteracy in the 21st
century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn,
unlearn and relearn.”
COVID-19 forced millions of workers to change their daily routines and adopt new digital tools. A significant investment – in terms of time, effort and cost – made towards upskilling for the digital transformation seems to be flattening as the workforce resumes working from office, forgoing the need for digital in every aspect of their work-life.
Let’s take an example of Dave. A
Sales professional who adopted digital for client meetings during the lockdown,
now has to be the feet on the street (literally!) choosing a physical meeting
space over a virtual one. You may argue that he commutes in Uber, logs customer
details in Salesforce, communicates with his colleagues on WhatsApp or MS Teams,
uses Outlook for mailing and hence has a huge dependency on technology. All
taken! But let’s not forget that with all things constant, including the latter
set of technology and tools, unlearning his newly acquired approach for client
interactions (over virtual conference) is critical for his work performance in
post lockdown, back-to-work era.
A word of gold from Margie Warrell, Forbes Columnist & Advisory Board Forbes School of Business & Technology: “Unlearning is about moving away from something —letting go— rather than acquiring. It’s like stripping old paint. It lays the foundation for the new layer of fresh learning to be acquired and to stick. But like the painter who needs to prepare a surface, stripping the paint is 70 percent of the work while repainting is only 30 percent.”
But do we really have to unlearn
According to Live Mint
India, “The pandemic has accelerated transformation manifold for
businesses in India. Organizations are re-imagining their business models,
relooking at talent management strategies and fast-tracking digitalization
efforts to be more resilient to disruption. Simulation, automation and remote
everything is becoming a reality with the move to a digital first world.”
Accenture says that
organizations will want to build competencies they wish they had invested in
before: to be more digital, data driven, and in the cloud; to have more
variable cost structures, agile operations and automation; to create stronger
capabilities in e-commerce and security.
For the workforce, it’s now about skilling for resilience. Companies are investing in tools, platforms and training (content)that facilitates accelerated learning for nurturing and fostering shared resilience.
Overall, it’s the making of a new mindset. Companies are starting to evaluate how digital channels can be used to support business continuity through the crisis and beyond. Companies are also considering the impact of these changes on the way they design, communicate, build and run the experiences that people need and want.
Spilling a hot cuppa after a day of working from home (for me) and work from office (for the hubby), I sigh, “How I wish I could outsource cooking to a robot!”
“Oh sure you could, just tell me! You anyway order me around on other things,” he says with a smirk.
are a human, you know. A bot doesn’t grump when told. You would,” I reply
“I could at times. But at least you would have piping hot food ready to be devoured. Imagine what would happen if the bot malfunctioned or broke?” pat comes the question.
I stop abruptly as my mind does a
mental math of having to unlearn the dependency on a bot, coping with the added
frustration of fixing the technology and mechanics, re-honing my cooking
skills, summoning up the motivation to get into the kitchen,and, finally,
cooking – MYSELF!
Now that’s one learning and
unlearning path I could gracefully avoid!
that was’ is a monthly column covering the hot and the happening in the
eLearning, L&D and learning technology space presented in a light,
easy-to-digest format. While the aim of these posts is to keep the HR and the
Learning & Development fraternity abreast with the latest news and views,
it is a vent out for the author, Pranjalee Lahri, who deals with a
one-and-a-half men pair – her hubby and her 6-year old son – as she moonlights
as a wife and a mother.