As COVID-19 started to impact our lives and changed the way we operated, WFH became the new normal and most of us had to hit the ground running to accommodate our attitude and habits. When a crisis like this happens, the pace of business is different. We have started to see work with a completely different lens. We are suddenly having to accept the fact that telecalls will have children popping in or one needs to align the office schedules to address the pressing needs at home. There is a lot of human element that people have started to accept and work around that, which has led to a lot of patience been built in either while working on something important or attending meetings over video conferencing. So is it here to stay, I presume so. This has given every organization to have a plan B and be prepared with it to be able to transition better in similar kind of situations. Moreover, even traditional organizations have faith now that WFH can work and people can be productive. End of the day in my personal view, if an employee is delivering on time should I bother whether they are in office, home, or even the cafeteria? Frankly, no. Certainly, WFH provides greater flexibility and our time can be better utilized and specifically where people have a longer time to commute or need to be at home for any pressing needs. On the other hand, does this model hamper my ability to connect with my teams and maybe have a corridor chat or quick coffee break and would it matter? The answer is yes. So effectively, I feel that it has got to do with the role one has in the organization and there is no single right or wrong answer.
This model is ideal for those who have elderly parents and very young children at home. They can optimize their time and efforts. Moreover, we have access to a greater talent pool as the physical location does not matter any longer. We can hire from anywhere in the country. It also allows us to stay close to the customer at all times.
There’s a strong element of human connect that I personally miss today – the non-verbal aspect of communication, observing behavioural traits, etc. Technology is so powerful today that it almost provides an experience that is as good as face-to-face interactions.
Not everyone has the same level of self-motivation. Some need more handholding and arguably, remote working may not necessarily suit them. We can’t ignore the fact that we are creatures of habit and some people can only function effectively when there’s a definitive framework in place, such as an office environment. Also, some managers value face-time a lot and would prefer the traditional approach over remote working. The more granular your engagements are, the number of touchpoints also increases proportionately. In some cases, a hands-off approach works, and in others, it doesn’t. In certain instances, the element of de-motivation cannot be ruled out entirely. The WFH model is entirely dependent on TRUST and, a very high degree of self-discipline is required to make it sustainable in the long run. So, a SWOT might not exactly fit in here as the demarcations have very thin lines and roles, job profiles and the organizational culture drives a lot of the decision-making process.
With respect to your question of the hiring process and the interviewing challenges, remote interviews are probably as good as 95% of the real thing – technology is powerful today. Even a few years back, it wasn’t the case but now things have improved and there’s a very little difference today. An interview gives us an opportunity to study the behavioural aspect of candidates under stress. Particularly, the non-verbal aspect of communication. Technology on this front is improving continuously and giving us all the necessary cues. Today, there are so many virtual meetings that it has almost become a regular feature. With time, we’d have perfected the mechanism and there’d be very little to separate from face-to-face meetings.