The ongoing pandemic and its repercussions have forced HR leaders to reassess their game plan. Organisations were forced to shift entire workforces to the remote way of functioning, bringing on new challenges. For Canon India, this turned out to be a rewarding move. A survey undertaken by the organisation yielded interesting results. Shikha Rai, vice president, Canon India, reveals, “Sixty per cent people felt they were more productive working from home. The leadership also felt that the productivity levels were at 85% and more.”
The results have led Canon India to ask some very important questions pertaining to the future of its workplaces. “We are looking at roles that can be moved to the home. Whether or not we really require office locations is a question that we are looking into. Not only Canon, but most HR people will be thinking about optimising costs, considering the current situation. Whether the focus will be on benefits or manpower optimisation or office locations, will require a complete study.”
Canon India has paused hiring as it wishes to assess the market first before inducting new joinees. Rai admits they are maintaining the status quo, and believes it is not the correct time to hire, for an industry like theirs. However, the organisation seems keen on a hybrid workspace, which can become the new normal soon. Even when there are just a limited number of people in the office, certain safety measures have to be in place, especially due to the current scenario. That can have some bearings on the cost as well.
“People have now tasted e-learning in a big way. While they were only experimenting with it in the past, now they are embracing it by force. Therefore, from an HR strategy point of view, L&D spends will be more on digital than classrooms.”
Rai informs that they are undertaking a detailed study to factor in all that for a changed setup. “Making changes to the existing workspace will be more difficult and will entail more costs. Shifting to a new location will be a better option than altering the existing offices, which are all leased spaces in our case. On moving to a new space, we can look at the new style of working,” Rai elaborates.
While there is a freeze on hiring at the organisation, the review process of the existing employees has undergone a bit of a makeover. “Sales personnel had queries about how they would show their numbers in their appraisal cycle. We let them know that we are aware that they cannot achieve those numbers or sales. However, we also pushed them towards projects that they wouldn’t or couldn’t otherwise take up in their day-to-day firefighting. Therefore, between the managers and employees, we discussed what we could do differently. Many took up automation projects, or even database-cleaning exercises.” Rai emphasised on the trust-based method adopted to assess performance.
Rai believes that learning and development will undergo immense change in the future. “People have now tasted e-learning in a big way. While they were only experimenting with it in the past, now they are embracing it by force. Therefore, from an HR strategy point of view, L&D spends will be more on digital than classrooms. This means, much of the savings on travel and gathering people together, will now be diverted to e-learning and digital methods. I think it will be a big shift.”
Canon India had 40 per cent of its staff working from home anyway. When the lockdown began it merely had to accommodate another 20 per cent.