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Covid changed work culture for millennials, Gen Z. Companies need to step up

Campus Voice is an initiative by ThePrint where young Indians get an opportunity to express their opinions on a prevalent issue.

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Everything has changed after the Covid pandemic. It has been one of the most seminal events in everyone’s life, almost similar in impact to 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, or even 26/11. But I think, Covid has had and will continue to have much more impact than all the rest.

The most important factor that ‘favours’ Covid is how deeply it has impacted the lives of millennials and Gen Z. They are or will be the employees of the world. The pandemic forced the world into a lockdown that was unprecedented. More importantly, the pandemic has changed the way how the newer generations look at life in general. And that has forced firms to look at new realities.

Hybrid work, work from home, work from anywhere, or digital nomadism wasn’t on the minds of anyone before the pandemic. But in the post-Covid world, these aspects have become an integral part of what employees want from their workplaces. Most people in the older generations thought of work as an entity separate from their identity or original self and weren’t concerned about how working conditions will affect them. But today’s employees are much more assertive and want work to be more than a source of income. They want to be associated with firms that take other aspects such as climate change much more seriously and do something about it.

Today’s employee wants more flexibility and is cognisant of how the job fits their personality. The employers, especially after Covid, had to take into account how employees want their work to be, and the companies that forced employees to come back faced mass resignations and a higher attrition rate.

Concepts such as JOMO or joy of missing out and dual income, no kids are becoming more prominent, and HR professionals have to consider these while designing employee policies. Autonomy has become a keyword in the workplace and not another buzzword.

Also read: Here’s why hybrid working means more stress for women

Impact of Covid on workplaces

Covid has impacted how organisations are structured or how they carry out different projects. The pandemic forced organisations to go digital and embrace new-age technologies such as cloud computing, which help them become more agile and nimble. But one cannot be agile just by embracing technology, you need to employ different frameworks to fulfil consumer demands and come up with new features every day. The old ways of long meetings and hierarchical structures aren’t compatible with new-age product development requirements. To accelerate the product development process, teams are given more autonomy and some firms even consider having a flat hierarchy wherever possible.

Covid forced people and organisations to go digital, which massively changed consumer behaviour. People rely more on apps than ever before. It means organisations have to focus more on digital service delivery, which can only be possible if they adopt new ways of product development. This also means creating job profiles such as product managers who in reality don’t manage a team but are responsible for the end-to-end product development process.

Today we live in a new normal, which is drastically different from what it was pre-Covid. Before Covid, kids weren’t in the background while their parents attend meetings; Zoom was something that represented the noise of an automobile and not a video conference platform; managers use to frown upon the request to work from home. Visiting Manali, Ooty and other tourist destinations were only for picnics or honeymoon, but today they have become brainstorming destinations where critical digital ideas are discussed. I have tried to embrace everything that the pandemic has thrown at me and have been reasonably successful, the only thing that has remained constant in my life is how I like my morning cup of coffee.

The author is a student at IIM, Kozhikode. Views are personal.

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