The future of personal services in the post-pandemic world

When it comes to human resources and organizational development teams, there are big questions to be answered in the post-pandemic, write Gera Patel (partner at Campbell Tickell) and Ian Wright (CEO of the Disruptive Innovators Network. ).

As time has passed since the coronavirus pandemic first appeared last spring, there is a growing sense that the world we come back to will not quite work out. the same way as the world we left. The ways we all work are at the heart of this; and if you are an employer, now is the time to seriously think about how you structure your organization.

How should we try to digest what we have all been through since March 2020? To what extent will what has changed become a distant memory? And how many will mark a moment in time, from which there is no turning back?

As the world – to a greater or lesser extent – begins to tentatively return to some sort of stability over the remainder of the year, organizations of all sizes must come to terms with how the past 15 months have changed the way they work. functioning.

When it comes to HR and Organizational Development teams, there are some big questions to answer: What will the post-pandemic world office look like? How should we think about productivity when our understanding of work-life balance has changed? How can people get down to business now that we’ve all seen each other in each other’s living rooms? And how do you maintain close-knit teams when some people can operate remotely and others have to be on site?

The future of personal services

In an attempt to answer some of these questions, Campbell Tickell and the Disruptive Innovators Network commissioned a report on the future of human service functions in light of the coronavirus pandemic. We spoke to HR and organizational development professionals, consultants, leaders and managers from different disciplines and from the public and private sectors – including central and local government, retail and technology – to map out a picture of what this new landscape might look like and what we can learn from our collective experience.

What we found was enlightening and should provide important lessons for leaders in all sectors. One of the key messages that came out loud from our research is that no employer can afford to stand still. Doing things the way we’ve always done won’t be an option if you want to recruit and retain talent.

Another lesson the pandemic has taught us is that if we want – or need – to change, we can do it quickly. Organizational development and human resources teams need to harness the spirit of initiative that has emerged in response to the lockdown to make the kind of fundamental changes that can make them not only better employers, but also better and more efficient companies for them. their clients.

A recurring theme throughout our research is that the role of human function has evolved. It may have happened in any case, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated it. Contributors to our report have consistently emphasized that the leadership and HR functions of organizations need to develop a more symbiotic relationship with each other.

This could mean bringing more HR people into leadership teams so that they can influence the organization’s strategic thinking and decision-making. Regardless of how the change is made, it must be recognized that looking after their employees is something employers need to put at the forefront of the “new normal”.

In practice, this shift in the way we think about HR could and should have profound effects on organizational behavior.

On the one hand, employee well-being should not be seen as an optional supplement but absolutely central to the way organizations structure their working practices. This impacts everything from office layout and core working hours, to employee value proposition and productivity expectations. In essence, if the line between “work” and “home” blurs, responsible employers have a duty to rethink what they ask of their staff.

One area where this collapse of the line between our work and home lives must make a difference is how we think about diversity and inclusion. The remote working revolution brought on by the pandemic has not only made us more aware of the reality of each other’s lives, it has also shown too clearly the inequalities in our society.

It is clear that working remotely does not create a level playing field. On the contrary, the inability to get to our workplaces reinforced some of the inequalities that we may have been experiencing, but which weren’t always visible in an office environment.

If there’s one foremost message we need to hear from the past 15 months, it’s that we need to rethink diversity so that it is an exit from what organizations do, not an entry. In other words, inclusion is about truly understanding what creates inequalities both in the workplace and outside, rather than putting in place checkbox policies.

As one of our contributors put it, this would be “the ultimate change agenda,” but she added that employee response to the pandemic has shown us how quickly we can act when we think about something and “This begs the question of what other things could we have speeded up if we really wanted to?”

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