‘Is the new normal really normal?’ with Sujata Deshmukh

We bring to you ‘The Shape of Work’, a Podcast series that brings to you insights from top People Managers across the world on the future of work and how it’s shaping our workplace. Anything goes conversation with our speakers about their journey, insights and thoughts. Most importantly their ideas and visions for the workplace of the future. See all posts here

We interviewed Sujata Deshmukh, Founder of Tutul Consulting, where she shared her views on how organizations across industries have dealt with the new way of work post pandemic and maintained their effectiveness at the same time.

We also discussed how advanced technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence are now a major part of workplaces and how various organizations are trying to adopt it in some interesting ways.

Sujata has contributed 23 years in the field of Human Resources and Consultancy. She advises, coaches and co-creates powerful transformation strategies at individual, team and organizational level. Her areas of expertise include Top Team Effectiveness, Leadership Development & shaping Culture.

She is a TedX speaker and has worked with more than 1000s of leaders worldwide. She possesses a powerhouse of knowledge when it comes to building an organization effectively. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations at XLRI Jamshedpur. 

Let us walk you through some of the important key takeaways from our interview with Sujata Deshmukh!

Organizations have dealt with the new normal by maintaining their effectiveness

Sujata throws light on  two very interesting but opposite trends that she observed. On one hand, a few  organizations have made a lot of efforts to become more sensitive and inclusive towards their employees. They try to connect and converse  with them. Many organizations  have modified their policies to include  wellness factors as well. These are the organizations which have gone out of their way for their employees.

On the other hand, some organizations are facing major issues of rude behavior by the managers and non inclusive behavior. This results in employees struggling in the creative and intuitive aspects of working.  In these cases, managing work and getting space, especially in cities where we don’t have dedicated workspaces, has become difficult. 

The whole situation forced people to look at what is important. It has forced leaders to be far more inclusive, caring and sensitive, allowing for flexibility. It’s got leaders to change the way they have done business. 

By and large, the overall outcome has  been positive. But there have also been cases where employees have been struggling with lack of personal time, or just attending meetings and working for 12 hours a day. 

Inducting freshers & new joiners into the new culture is challenging

Sujata explains that the old timers and the tenured people making an effort to share stories and experiences, can make the newcomers feel welcome. But the time it takes for people to get friendly has definitely increased. 

Inducting new people in the new culture will be different. But the bigger challenge for the talent heads is to think about what culture really is. Is it about the place or the pattern in which organizations work? And if your culture encourages disruptive thinking, then even in a virtual meeting, are you encouraging people to speak against amotion? 

So it has also challenged leaders to think of solutions about how to explain this or  to induce people into it? 

Different organizations dealing differently with the new normal

Smart organizations have started keeping meetings short and crisp during remote work and made sure the outputs are far more structured. So, managers who have been structured with streamlined processes are able to control the situation well. 

But for those who need to talk and discuss physically, they’ve struggled a bit. So by and large, most of us have adapted to this new way of working. But a few blind spots still exist. And employees just deal with it passively by saying “well, I’ll just go off video and take a break”. 

White collar people are leveraging flexible timings, whereas life hasn’t changed for factory people

People who work in a corporate culture have one or two days of flexibility in terms of staying at home or coming to the office.  Maybe some flexible timings as well.

But that is only limited to white collar people. The pandemic did not change the work pattern of factory workers or people who work in hospitality, hotels or healthcare industries.

People have the flexibility to continue working from their hometowns

Sujata shares that she has met a lot of people who, after the age of 50, chose to move away from the city when they were unable to get their aged parents to come to the city and live with them. They also take a hit in their careers to go there. For such people, there has been a little bit of regret that they can’t really go for it because there are only regional roles available in a particular city and that job. So for them, to be able to continue doing what they’re doing will definitely be a big bonus. 

Organizations allowing flexibility or allowing people to sit in any corner of the country while working,becomes a differentiator and attract a lot of talent. So this becomes a talking point or employer value proposition. Therefore, it’s about making the best of what is there.

Follow Sujata Deshmukh on LinkedIn

Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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