Take the Guesswork Out of Workplace Decisions: Humanyze's Workplace Strategy Solution
Originally published on The Economist
In the post-lockdown return to the workplace, some Asian countries are weeks or months ahead of those in Europe and America. In China, for example, around 90% of the workforce of Infosys, an IT-services giant, is already back on company campuses, an executive says. The transition is uneven—in India, 90% of Infosys employees continue to work from home. But firms across Asia now have the most experience in reopening workplaces safely. Relative to companies elsewhere, they are living in the future—and are therefore in a position to offer some practical advice. Welcoming back employees turns out to require a lot more than checking temperatures and providing face masks and hand sanitiser. The companies we spoke to offered tips in three areas: organisation, sanitation and automation.
These organisational changes, to keep employees further apart, must be combined with a strong focus on sanitation.
Managers planning the return to work are being offered a range of high-tech tools to monitor and maintain social distancing:
A final lesson from Asia’s experience is the importance of company (and industry) psychology. Broadly, startups adjust faster than corporations, says Truddy Cheung of Colliers in Hong Kong—and tech firms adapt better than finance outfits, says Martin Axe of Steven Leach Group, a workplace consultancy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This may be because techies thrive on collaboration, whereas bankers have more of a competitive mindset.
More broadly, managers should expect employees to be more “stressed and irritable” in the face of these changes, warns Eduard Alcordo of the Australia Philippines Business Council in Sydney. The anthropological cliché is that Asian cultures are more collectivist, while Western cultures are generally more individualistic. When it comes to conforming to new rules to minimise the spread of covid-19, says Ben Waber of Humanyze, a Boston firm that researches workplace cultures, that may put American and European firms at a disadvantage. Be careful out there, folks.