The session started with Ninad Karpe from 100X VC introducing Pankaj Bansal. Pankaj is the CEO of “Work & Workplaces”. He is also an active member of CII and is part of many other esteemed organizations. He has represented HR in many prestigious forums. The conversation began with a talk by Pankaj, followed by a Q&A session with the live audience.
WORKPLACE VS WORKSPACE
Pankaj begins with his views on workplace phenomena. Most of the young employees he spoke to said that the workplace feels more like a constrained building that feels caged. He understands that employees today want to work from their home and deliver productively rather than reporting at an office every day, and rightly so.
Pankaj then spoke about a letter they wrote about a year ago. It envisioned how the working of a company would look like in 2025, and he even shared a few excerpts. Digital attendance would completely replace physical attendance. Employees will view AI and technology as their helping hand rather than their replacement. Working on the cloud will become the norm rather than working at AC offices. Pankaj then went on to talk about how most of the transformations they had predicted for the next five years have already been observed across the world in the last three months.
Pillars in the Current situation –
Today health and wellbeing are the top priority, which was relatively ignored earlier. Pankaj further added that wellness is going to be the first pillar in the current situation.
Productivity is talked about more than the efforts nowadays. Every job responsibility is being converted into a job order.
And finally, job delivery. Work is being delivered in sync. And science and the arts are working together.
Even the job hierarchy has completely changed. And thus the world is moving towards a much more efficient and effective way. He believes that the world is moving towards a much more digital set up.
The first question which Pankaj received was that once the COVID vaccine comes out, will the world fall back into its original way of doing things? Will we all repeat our past mistakes? To which, Pankaj replied that of course, human beings have the habit of shifting to their old ways. But still, we need to be hopeful and only time will tell what the future holds.
Ninad asked about how a huge company had recently claimed that by 2025, only 25% of their employees will be required to work from the office. Pankaj felt that this is quite obvious, and this will become the new normal now. People working from their homes will deliver in the same productive manner, if not more so, and the three pillars he discussed earlier will be followed thoroughly.
In another question, Pankaj was asked about the more traditional Indian bosses who prefer to see their employees in person at the workplace. Will they change with the times or not? To which Pankaj replies, if they don’t change, they’re the ones getting left behind. If the boss doesn’t change then the company suffers in three areas–
Then Ninad asks an audience question about automation, and how it affects the workforce.In response, Pankaj gave an example, that if a robot can do the job of a security guard, then why not. It will be our responsibility to upskill people and place them at the correct place and the real challenge is skilling people, which has always been a challenge in India. . It’s important to keep in mind that although India has a vast workforce, only a small portion of it forms the organized sector. Automation is inevitable, and some people will be displaced by its evolution, but eventually, human beings will find a way to evolve as well.
To which Pankaj replied that other than the manufacturing sector, technology has improved the job market and industry as a whole. And people need to break their job and assign it to other people. Then only the employment and workforce will grow.
Ninad raised another viewer question to which Pankaj replied that there would be a new world where people will work from home. Pankaj said that purpose would be one of the strongest binding forces. Organizations that work on the purpose are the ones who will be able to strive for the future. He appreciated Google’s quote where it was mentioned that “Organizing world’s information”. He said that this is one of the most powerful quotes and this will survive for the next 100 years as it truly defines the company’s mission and vision. So, the question is, does the organization need to spend more and more time on “WHY”?
Pankaj was asked about outsourcing. He said that earlier outsourcing was sending the crap or asking for some expert assistance from outside. But now, it will further be defined as work defined under the units, and then people are assigned to handle each unit.
Pankaj was also asked about the change in dynamics between the boss and supervisee in the post COVID times. Pankaj clearly said that there would be no hierarchy or top-bottom culture. Pankaj further added that now people will work on Squad based culture where a junior and a senior can come together to deliver work and then after the work delivery they will dismantle. Pankaj quoted examples of his numerous software friends who’ve said that now they are paid for the outcome rather than hierarchy.
Another question that Pankaj received was about industrial organizations and how they will shape up in the post-COVID 19 scenario. Pankaj tactfully replied that we can’t expect industries to change overnight. Industries are still figuring out how to cope up with the post-COVID 19 work culture. Sanitization process and how the shifts work are still being discussed. Pankaj gave the example of one of his client companies, who is in the manufacturing industry. They said that they are thinking of coming up with a model where they will assign a single set of responsibilities to a team. And that team will be paid annually for a set of outcomes. And thus industries are thinking of some of the other innovative models to make the work smooth and fuss-free.
He gave another example of one of the hospitality clients based in Thailand. He said that they are looking for such technology that can collaborate with their people and come up with better outcomes. But yes, they still need people.
This brought us towards the end of the session where Ninad finally asked Pankaj with COVID 19 will the industries work with lesser people and thus will this be the new future. Pankaj replied that industries are looking for lesser costs and higher productivity and not layoffs.
Finally, Ninad asked Pankaj about what are the changes in his personal life during COVID 19. To which Pankaj replied that he had always been quite busy with travelling and now he enjoys his alone time from 5 AM – 9 AM every day. Ninad also asked Pankaj about any new hobby which he has developed to which Pankaj replied that he loves teaching yoga every day for 1 hour to his family and friends.
Finally, Ninad asked Pankaj what would be his HR advice to the newbie HR aspirants. To which Pankaj listed down three significant points which are as follows –
He said that don’t think of yourself as an HR person, but rather think of yourself as a non HR person who is looking to increase productivity.
He also advised that it is essential for an HR person to get experience from non HR functions. He can always come back to HR.
And finally, he said that an HR person must be a data expert. Mostly HR people are blamed for not understanding data and metrics. And thus, in this new age, an HR person must understand data as his primary function.
And finally, Ninad thanked Pankaj for his valuable time and inputs. Pankaj said that he is sorry if he is unable to answer any questions and he would be happy to take them later on.
Ninad closed the session and thanked viewers for tuning in. This was such a lovely and insightful session with respect to HR functions.