• Thursday, Sep 23, 2021
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OP-ED: Workplace trends in Bangladesh amid Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 10:13 pm July 28th, 2021
Home office or just office?

Technology and innovation in the workplace were always on the table for companies

Times are challenging. Pertinent to the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, daily lifestyles of an individual are in constant change.

People are striving to make amends with this sudden surge of new normal, be it in their personal or professional lives.

Technology and innovation in the workplace were always on the table for companies.

But one never thought that what would have taken years is being done in a matter of days.

The sudden and radical change in the physical dimension of the workplace is being adopted by organizations all over the world. 

In my recent study on the reshaping of the post-pandemic workplace, organizations all over the world have upped their game in workplace innovation.

While a remote and hybrid workplace is a common denominator in the overall process, employers in Bangladesh have to spew out ideas on what is best for their own industrial culture.

We have garment industries, a large contributor to our GDP.

Our workforce is largely dependent on unskilled to semi-skilled workers.

Zoom may have rescued the day for many but yet the quality of our internet connectivity or accessibility still poses a series of concerns.

Employers have to find ways to do right by their employees simultaneously realizing that change is the oximeter for survival of the fittest.

To name a few trends that many companies are or should be aligning their management strategies with are:

  • Maintaining safety and healthy environment - Employers are at a pressure point to maintain a safe and healthy environment. No employer wants to be the source of spreading this virus. Not only is it important to meet the health requirements of the company's stakeholders legally but with this notion they can earn the assurance of its customers that it is doing its role as part of being socially responsible and save the company’s brand equity along the way.

However many companies here in Bangladesh seem to be overwhelmed with this notion and see this as a hindrance especially when it comes to the social distancing factor where it requires spaced out cubicles and distance of 6 feet apart.

We have to  understand that space is not a luxury here in Bangladesh that we can afford and most manufacturing factories, especially the hundreds of garment industries, are built in cramped spaces and  are still labour oriented.

In a country like ours where the majority of the population depends on daily wages and does not have the luxury of disposable income, reducing labour forces from going to work to maintain safety, poses another set of survival issues.

Probably a rigorous stimulus package or a subsidy from the government can help. Just a thought.

  • Remote working and hybrid office - We are interconnected nowadays and during this pandemic what can be done from home should be done from home.

Hybrid office as a way of life is being adopted readily by many companies.  Our culture sometimes sees this as work avoidance and unproductive.

This is where specific communication approaches from the management are required to set objectives and goals as what is expected of the employees. These concepts work mainly for skilled workers. 

  • Training employees to be digitally savvy - Digitalization and virtual company culture was always on the charts for many learning organizations but the pandemic situation has coerced it to be a part of a daily operation.

Online presence is a requirement during lockdown and remote working is necessary.

Companies need to revitalize and instil this thought process in their workforce. This applies to both semi to high skilled workers. 

  • Effective Communication between all - Never has communication been so crucial as it is now. Whether its bottom- up approach or top- down approach, clear communication goals need to be set amongst management and employees.

Whenever there has been any changes whether its economic recession or a pandemic as now, it does give rise to uncertainty and desperation among people.

Calling meetings and discussing matters at hand with employees can resolve many issues.

  • Mental Awareness and Empathy - Job cut and downsizing is rampant and a necessity for many organizations just for its mere survival.

These decisions not only cause mental stress for those who lost their jobs but also have a ripple effect on others who still have the job.

Out of the many workplace trends that are being adopted, mental health awareness and empathy seems to be the humanizing thing at the moment to sustain employees productivity.

Counselling and maybe financial help for those who have lost their dear ones can go a long way in earning trust and motivation of the employees.


 

The author is a lecturer of the business department at State University of Bangladesh

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