A jack of all trades and master of some, Varun Duggirala is a content creator, podcaster, entrepreneur, personal development pundit and storyteller in no particular order. He is one of the leading voices in modern advertising, and his popular podcast, ‘Advertising is Dead’ talks about the developments and disruptions in Business, advertising, media, content and entertainment. Varun fervently believes that content will drive the brandscape and help reframe the narrative around brands and how they market themselves.
A large part of the world went into remote working as the pandemic hit us last year. So for both businesses and employees, it was almost like we were all figuring the do’s and don’ts of this largely alien form of working while adapting and changing it along the way. Add to this the mixture of individual isolation for some and overcrowded households for others. This rapid reset of how we work, live and interact didn’t just cause a strain on businesses but people as well.
It’s only towards late 2020, and early 2021 have we truly understood the ramifications of these changes on employees. Let’s get a few things out of the way first, in an idealistic scenario, remote working should be the most time-efficient, energy-efficient and, as a result, most effective form of working. Just the ability to take away travel
Times, allowing people to work from wherever they wanted, to more efficiently plan our days on a calendarised form. By effectively taking away many barriers to truly efficient work, people should be working in a better and more happy form. But, in reality it’s been a mixed bag.
The lack of separation of work and life led to work hours getting longer, over calendarisation has led to more meetings than ever and it is pretty clear that a fully digitised way of working isn’t suited to all forms of work. Add to that the differing situations in everyone’s homes, from lack of space for some to lack of human contact for others, parents with the added pressure of online school and teams lacking the cultural glue holding them together in many ways because of lack of ever meeting each other.
The feeling of days merging into one another almost like a loop, of feeing disconnected with the vision and culture of the companies they worked for as well as a sense of being detached from each other along with the environment in their own houses led to a prevailing feeling of burn out, languishing and disillusionment with work has led to a massive strain on the mental health of employees across the world. It also led to a sense of nostalgia about how we worked before all this came to pass.
But again, the solution isn’t to go back to how it was… the balancing of everyone’s mental health will in many ways come from a hybrid working figure that takes the best of both and pushes us ahead. So let’s understand what has been and what needs to be done.
A culture is what binds people together and that needs to be reinstated and allowed to authentically grow. The role of Talent teams in measuring sentiment and happiness has become a clear way to understanding what people want from their organisations and one common thread across the board is a constant reinstatement of “why” and “how” every person’s job/role is helping move the business towards its vision.
The need to meet physically on a consistent basis will and already is making a comeback. Human beings need human contact but now we’re in a state of measuring what needs to be physical and what needs to be digital. This allows an optimised way of blending human connection with efficiency of digital interaction. Enabling the best of both worlds.
The option of working from everywhere has many pros and will continue to be an option for people ( most times if not all the time). This helps businesses get access to talent and for talent to make the choice of where they live based on the life they want over the necessity of what their job mandates. It especially helps employees with children who have found many a positive from spending more time with their children instead of being stuck in transit or in their office.
Lastly, it has made mental health a clear area of focus for all businesses. And in doing so allowed conversations around the mental well-being of every employee become a normalised lens that every business needs to focus on. It’s no longer something we don’t understand, rather something we all see the importance in not just recognising but also investing into systems that help ensure optimal mental health for every employee.