Future of Work: The India Way

With more than a decade of experience, Pallavi helps global clients to envision Workplace of the Future with Strategy, Design and Integrated Solutions. She is a published author of the book, The City Observed and a regular contributor on built environment as a speaker and writer.

We no longer live in a world of patterns and forecasts. You can't measure it and so you can't predict it. How do we build something with purpose and of value when nothing stands still. Future of Work is asking for new dimensions and new radical lens to reinvent what we have destroyed and also that no longer serves us. So, in the absence of what we don't know, how do we create, and create something of value?

When in doubt, I always take comfort in the arms of Anthropology. Ignore the noise and deep dive into the stuff that really matters: People. And from the book, A Possible Anthropology, "An ethnography is magical by nature, founded on the power of words to arrest and remake, to reach across daunting gulfs of physical and mental being, to rob the proud of their surety and amplify voices otherwise inaudible." In other words, listen to people, listen deeply and observe with intention to what their needs are and what they are not able to express. As workplace ninjas, we must not only ask what you want, we must also look for what remains unexpressed for the workforce. Is long commute really the unspoken horrible truth behind the ask of hybrid work? Is unresolved mental health issue behind the need forholistic well being? Just observe, nudge and gather, what comes out will be valuable to create something meaningful.

We shouldn't be surprised with these findings. Aren't they the core building principles for building a great workforce and workplace? And if we achieve these aspects right, we will get the right balance for the communities, cities and urban ecosystem that is regenerative in approach and results in sustainable outcomes for people and the places for them which are livable and holistic.

38 percent of the Workforce are stressed due to increased workload and over whelmed by the mental challenges that come with navigating uncertainty

There are two distinct realizations we have had with our tryst with pandemic. We could do many tasks from anywhere provided we had the basic work environment and infrastructure that supported it. Second was that despite that, place matters and more prominently, physical workplace matters. Shift from a function to aspiration, shift from what is required from an office to what is really possible for a Workplace in the future. In every way it is experiential in nature now. And Workplace principles are gearing towards on how to provide the experience of innovation, camaraderie, empathy and sustainability in workplaces that we create.

Workplaces are now a tool for storytelling to its brand and users. Business leaders, workforce, suppliers all need a workplace that they want to associate with. A testament to their culture, belonging, shared experiences. Its not two dimensional functional space alone but a web of expectations, aspirations and associative value that it comes with. Workforce is not doing the work alone in offices but it is also engaging with the Workplace as it is a brand extension of the organization they are part of and they themselves are the brand ambassadors of the team and the organization they belong to.

Every organization is reimagining what it means for them as a company and its value generation and if it aligned towards people, community, society and environment. Workforce is hungry for trust, social cohesion and purpose. And to build a sense of belonging and to have a higher sense of purpose, we will need wellbeing and community that supports it for the workforce that will be ready to tackle what the uncertain Future of Work may bring in coming days. Future of Work can be reimagined as an ecosystem of spaces which supports and invigorates our multi dimensional work styles and diverse expectations. No more linear models but essentially a web of types of spaces which are more employee journey and experience driven through the day with an opportunity to customize the work day as per the needs of the workforce.

Future of Work doesn't need to go back to the old ways, here's an opportunity to take forward what worked for us and leave behind what didn't. And if it means, letting go some parts of our model offices and ways of working and expectations, then we must. Physical Workplace is a tool to reinforce culture and be part of larger community and inspiring the workforce for a common shared purpose and vision.