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Ever since the COVID-19 lockdown has come into place across the globe, there has been a complete shift in the operations of the global workspace. For many, work from home i.e. remote work has taken over. Even though this is not a completely alien idea since the digital regime has already made remote work a significant mode of operations, however, this is not a one size fits all phenomenon when it comes to different types of merchandise and industries.

Concerns Revisited

In the current situation, topics like Employee well-being, Burnout, and Human Resource Development have become even more important than before, and so is the case with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Now, this brings us to an important question, as to why and how can we bridge these aspects together in pursuit of motivation and management within the current dynamics of remote work?

concerns revisited
                                                             Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

NEEDS Hit Hard by COVID-19

From the five key areas addressed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs i.e. Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization needs, each one is connected to the workforce at present. While physiological security happens to be the reason behind going into isolation and socially distancing ourselves from all our loved ones, friends, and colleagues, it has also triggered the other aspects. We observed food and supplies being hoarded in pursuit of securing the necessities and utilities. At the same time, we’ve observed love and belonging taking over, we’ve been able to nurture our relationships, got in contact with old friends, it became more needful to check on our contacts and assure that they’re safe. It has become more meaningful to know that we’re all in this together and we’re putting in our best to hold on to this, for this too shall pass.

However, not everything has been as positive as I’ve been trying to be so far. There have been areas of setback and needs that have been challenged with these tough, unprecedented, and unpredictable circumstances. Being a global health emergency, COVID-19 has brought setbacks to trade and travel, damaged supply chains, healthcare infrastructures are on the verge of collapsing, markets crashing, plants and industrial units are being shutdown, financial crunches and layoffs, educational systems have been halted and the overall socio-economic balance has been disturbed.

COVID-19 has brought an entire shift to the modes of human operation in almost all walks of life, which isn’t only for the time being but the impact of the pandemic might even continue for a few years. These unpredictable times have gravely impacted the aspects of esteem and self-actualization on both, personal and professional grounds. People are having too many what-ifs going on in their minds, afraid of losing their jobs, being unable to support the family, or failing to meet the ends. These pressures have trickled down the efficiency of the workforce by disturbing their mental health and thus, their ability to comprehend the fears. The feeling of not being enough has hit hard on their esteems. Thus, self-actualization has also been challenged.

Problematic Areas

For those who are still working, the change in circumstances has brought subsequent issues. Communication is there but the absence of physical presence has made it difficult to convey the non-verbal clues. For many, the workload has increased to the extent of disturbing the work-life balance. While for those, who’ve been put on hold till further notice, or the ones who’ve been excused by the employer, or those who’ve been informed of salary cutoffs, or the ones who are left unheard in the conference calls, or those who had a connection error and missed the important meeting, or the ones who had been awaiting promotion for long, or the ones who had to close their doors to the daily joy that prevailed otherwise, these are extremely difficult times.

Solution Development

Now comes the question of doing something that could somehow bring a little ease to the difficulties with the ‘New Normal’. Therefore, to handle these difficult times, as managers, as leaders and decision-makers, we have identified some key areas (not limited to) which need focus and mapped them with the needs discussed earlier; Adaptability and Mindfulness, Digital Literacy and Experiential Learning, Collaboration and Communication, Inclusion and Diversity, Assertiveness and Preparedness.

 

Solution Development
                                         Figure 2: COVID-19 Learning and Development Toolkit

Humans, by all means, are social creatures, always looking forward to avenues of social affiliation, recognition, and relation. While social distancing has become the new needful normal, it has become even more important to make sure that people are both, heard and understood. This comes with clear, better, and more considerate communication. With the changing work settings, new technologies and platforms are being introduced, therefore, requiring the workforce to be equipped with abilities to handle them, which comes along with focusing on various areas of experiential learning. Being aware of the fact that we’re all going through something or the other, and we all have various difficulties at hand, is the most important aspect in the current times. Thus, needful to understand and respect inclusion and diversity. This would surely be a plus to your collaboration and innovation, but not only that, it would even help you to stay in the present, embrace the challenges, and go with the flow.

Let’s Talk Further

Our team is keeping an eye on the global workspace dynamics, analyzing the best practices, and accordingly designing effective solutions and toolkits so we can do our part in helping out. Reach out to us if there is anything at all that we can help you out with.

Dr. Leena Rehman is a Consultant and Trainer with CustomerService.ae. Her expertise include Organizational Development, Human Capital Development, Systems Thinking and Innovation.