Most organisations across the world follow a centralised hierarchical structure or the top-down approach.
This was primarily because the leadership never truly trusted the subordinates with decision-making. Leaders across levels – from a team leader to the functional head to the CXO to the CEO or MD of the company— hesitated trusting those below them. As a result, the final decision was always made by the big boss. For years, this practice has made employees look up to their bosses for solutions and decisions.
This model worked well in a structured office environment.
However, the lockdown, like any other calamity, has disrupted the work environment and opened us up to new possibilities on the horizon.
“The leaders are thinking beyond the normal and approaching a work culture, where load will be distributed and no individual will be solely in power”
The physical distance between leaders and their subordinates has left the bosses with no other option but to learn to trust the juniors. People have also learned to work in silos and smaller teams, and deliver at the same time.
The question, is whether the learnings from the lockdown will transit to the post-lockdown phase.
As things have become more transparent at the workfront, Ganesh Chandan, CHRO, Tata Projects, opines, “There is great empowerment, greater delegation and less critical structures. It will be interesting to see how the new organisational structure will deliver without too many constraints.”
Chandan says that when the work processes are reorganised, some parts are decentralised and the remaining are eliminated.
Biplob Banerjee, chief people officer, Allied Benders & Distillers also agrees with the fact that remote working during lockdown has built a lot of trust and communication between employees and leaders, which was earlier missing. He says, “With the quality of employer-manager relationship improving, the latter has become more accepting and lenient in terms of giving responsibilities to the junior employees.”
“Earlier, people had restricted themselves to blindly following the instructions of their managers, without thinking beyond to find solutions for their problems”
Anil Mohanty, head-HR, Medikabazaar, agrees that the present lockdown situation has given the employees a chance to think rather than just perform tasks as instructed by the leaders. “This crucial situation has taught the employees to think beyond their problems and come up with effective solutions without seeking a helping hand from their leaders,” points out Mohanty.
Banerjee believes, “Distant working has made employees come up with a lot more innovative and relevant solutions that are used for everybody’s survival in extreme situations.”
With this sudden and unprecedented shift at the workplace, the way employees deal with challenges and situations has also changed. Working remotely has given us a chance to realise that employees too can deal with problems on their own, without involving the leaders in every stage.
As Mohanty rightly says, “Earlier, people had restricted themselves to blindly following the instructions of their managers, without thinking beyond to find solutions for their problems.”
“There is great empowerment, greater delegation and less critical structures. It will be interesting to see how the new organisational structure will deliver without too many constraints”
Chandan prefers to speak of this change as ‘redesigning’ of the workplace. “Organisations will need to revisit and modify their work processes for employees to maintain their efficiency, after the lockdown is over,” he foresees.
Now that this episode has definitely helped the employees gain confidence, leaders can safely make a leap of faith in the long run.
Banerjee believes that, if you practice certain things beyond a certain period of time, it becomes a habit. So once offices reopen, these habitual changes will tend to remain even when there is no more remote working.
“The changes have made the leaders trust and rely on their employees in any given situation. The leaders are thinking beyond the normal and approaching a work culture, where load will be distributed and no individual will be solely in power,” Banerjee concludes.