‘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 talked to us on how organizations across industries have dealt with the new normal way of work and maintained their effectiveness at the same time.

We also discussed how advanced technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, are disrupting workplaces and how various organizations are trying to adopt it in some interesting ways.

Sujata has about 23 years of experience as an HR Practitioner & Consultant. 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 and 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

There are two very interesting trends that both seem to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. So on one hand, it has been found that organizations have made a lot of effort to become more sensitive, more inclusive, connect far more with people, have far more dialogue, modify policies to include care about wellness. These organizations where people have gone out of their way.

On the other hand, there are major issues of rude behavior by the managers, non inclusive behavior, struck, struggling through creative and intuitive aspects of working. So there are two distinct trends. Hence, there is the pain of managing to work and getting space, especially in cities where we don’t have dedicated workspaces. 

The whole situation forced people to look at what is important. It’s 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. 

So by and large, it’s been positive. But there have also been cases of employees struggling with lack of personal time, or the fact that meetings keep going on and on and they’ve been sitting at their desks for 12 hours a day. 

Inducting freshers & new joiners into the new culture is challenging

Sujata thinks if the old timers and the tenured people make an effort to share stories and share experiences, then there are forums to make newcomers feel, but the time it takes for people to get friendly has definitely gone up. 

Inducting new people into the new culture will be different. But it’s a bigger challenge for talent heads to think about what culture really is. Is it about the place or how we do things? And if your culture is that you encourage disruptive thinking, then even in a virtual meeting, are you encouraging people to speak against the motion? 

So it’s also challenged leaders to think of solutions about how am I going to explain this? or how am I going to induct people into it? 

Different organizations dealing differently with the new normal

The smart organizations have had crisper meetings, shorter meetings times where there will be no calls and meetings and making sure the outputs are far more structured. So for those managers who are very structured and used to being very top down, they are able to control it well. 

But for those who need to talk and discuss and have a feel, they’ve struggled a bit. So by and large, most of us have adapted to this new way of working. But there are still blind spots that exist. And employees just deal with it passively by saying “well, I’ll just go off video and take a break”. And then sometimes the video or the audio is on and you can hear a lot of things in the background. 

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

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

But that’s only for the white collar people. Factory people or people who work in hospitality, hotels or healthcare industries, life hasn’t changed for them at all. So, the airline person still has to come to work and work shifts. 

People have the flexibility to continue working from their hometowns

Sujata shared that she met a lot of people who after the age of 50, whether men or women have chosen to move away from the city if they are unable to get their aged parents to come to the city and live with them. They have also taken a hit in their careers to go there. For such people, there is a little bit of regret that I can’t really hit because there are only regional roles available in this city and that job. So for them, to be able to continue doing what they’re doing will definitely be a big bonus. 

Since a lot of organizations are allowing flexibility or allowing people to sit in Coimbatore or wherever and deliver to some company, this becomes a differentiator and a lot of talent might be attracted. So this becomes a talking point or employer value proposition. Therefore, it’s about making the best of what is there.

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Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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