‘We need multidisciplinary teams for the workplace of the future’

Team FactorDaily November 29, 2016 3 min

The Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility are taking over our lives, and work. Workplace walls are breaking down and work now happens anytime, anywhere. What do individuals, managers and organisations need to do to rise up to the human capital challenges that the new workplace will bring?

Well-known strategic human resources advisor Hema Ravichandar said the key to creating a successful workplace of the future lies in building multidisciplinary teams comprising people with wide-ranging skills. These teams will require hardware and software engineers, marketing and user experience professionals as well as neurologists, anthropologists and psychologists apart from behavioural scientists and others.

“We will need teams that have both depth and breadth of knowledge, because only that brings appreciation of another’s domain. Without appreciation, there can’t be collaboration, which is crucial for innovation”
— Hema Ravichandar, HR advisor  

Ravichandar said this during a brainstorming session — ‘HR Playbook in the New, New World’ — with FactorDaily editor-in-chief Pankaj Mishra at the Future of Jobs in India Summit, organised by FactorDaily in association with CareerNet in Bengaluru on November 21.

She divided organisations into three phases — those working in the conception-to-design or design-to-prototype phase; the prototype-to-customer phase; and the customer-to-scale phase. Human capital challenges will vary across these phases, she said.

To begin with, companies will have to create multidisciplinary teams and then ensure that these teams perform, in terms of both collaboration and innovation. “We will need teams that not only have depth but also breadth of knowledge, because only that can bring appreciation of another person’s domain. Without appreciation, there can’t be collaboration, which is crucial for innovation. Communication is also going to be critical and we will need people who are able to communicate ideas to different types of people in different ways,” said Ravichandar.

Customer will still be king in the marketplace of the future. To cater to the demanding new-age customer, employees will have to develop learning agility and ingrain swiftness. “We will need individuals who are comfortable working in a beta world because response times have to be very fast when you want to be customer centric. Managements will have to rely on the intuitive intelligence of such teams rather than on consultants.” Going from customer-centricity to scale will require companies to implement good management — of execution, risk and diversity.

Job satisfaction and productivity are higher when people work from home, feels Hema Ravichandar

When asked how will organisations and individuals cope with this new work environment, where people are increasingly working from home or other remote locations, Ravichandar said: “I believe that if you set up good systems and processes, good behaviour will follow. There are three key stakeholders here — employees, managers and the organisation itself — each of whom have an important role to play to make the new work environment successful.”
Job satisfaction and productivity are higher when people work from home, said Ravichandar, adding managers need to trust employees for the new system to work. And they need to reward results and not effort.

As far as employees are concerned, they have to have good intent and be sincere about their work. They also need to inculcate discipline — of space and time — whether they’re working from home or from a co-working location. “Thirdly, you have to set expectations, you have to say that I will not be available between this and this time — these are my blackout times. This will help the employee build credibility. And, finally, one must deliver,” she added.

“For companies, it is imperative to communicate with remote workers — they are lonely and tend to feel alienated, so encourage them to join in, to be parts of hangouts (online) and meetings. And listen if they have a problem,” she said.

To cover any cases of misalignment between the company and the individual, it is essential to have well-drafted organisational policies. “You have to have the entire philosophy in place to ensure that the organisation marches to the beats of telecommuting,” she said.


Lead visual: Nikhil Raj
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