Senior Vice-President and Industry Head – Financial Services and Public Sector, Infosys
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a seismic change in working practices across all industries. The shift to remote working has put greater focus than ever on the need for digital transformation for businesses to reskill and upskill employees for the evolving workplace.
Ajay Vij, Senior Vice-President and Industry Head of Financial Services and Public Sector at digital services and consulting firm Infosys, explains, “This has been a gigantic, planet-scale experiment in remote working. It has not been just one company, but the whole planet. The results have been hugely impressive.
“If this pandemic had happened 15 or 20 years ago, it would have been really difficult for industries to operate. In fact, what we have seen is increased employee satisfaction, productivity and morale. It has led to a new understanding of what the future could look like.”
The workplace, workforce and nature of work itself will all be affected by the new normal. “All three are going to change, dramatically,” says Vij.
With increasing numbers of workers opting out of life in the big city in favour of more space in suburban and rural areas, Vij says the workplace of the future will look very different.
“We will draw from the past and present to build a productive, hybrid model,” he explains. “Offices will no longer be a place for checking emails, but places for collaboration, driving innovation, and ensuring people can network, on a limited basis.”
Inclusion and diversity
He adds that a largely virtual workplace will help include several groups in the workforce who might previously have missed out.
“There is a huge opportunity for people in remote cities and countries where talent exists, but talent absorption is a challenge. We can now harness talent from anywhere, as long as security procedures and protocols are in place.”
Skills are going to become more important than degrees as employers look for lifelong learners who can learn and relearn.
He believes the workforce will see improvements in inclusion as a result of the new approach to working.
“As a company, while we were able to attract a lot of women at the beginning of their career, this tapered off at senior leadership level later on as family responsibilities arose,” he explains. “Now, we are confident that a more flexible way of working will encourage more women to take on more senior positions in the middle of their careers.”
Skills over degrees
Furthermore, Vij says, work itself will become more modular, and employees will be expected to keep up with the rapidly changing digital sphere.
“Education will become intertwined with work like never before. Historically, we were educating ourselves for 25 years of our lives, then the next 40 years were spent drawing on that education while working. We call that ‘just in case’ education.
“What we are seeing now is ‘just in time’ education, where essentially you work and learn simultaneously to ensure a lifelong learning model. Skills are going to become more important than degrees as employers look for lifelong learners who can learn and relearn.”
Learning for the future
In response to this, businesses will need to adapt and arm their employees with the skills to manage the changing face of work.
At Infosys, remote onboarding and learning initiatives are helping employees and clients adapt to the changes. Over 1.2 million are currently using the company’s learning platform, Wingspan, which provides adaptive learning opportunities based on the individual user’s particular education and needs.
The Reskill and Restart programme advocates digital literacy by allowing employees in a wide range of organisations and local authorities to learn about specific areas of digital technology free of charge.
“This is a hugely important initiative,” says Vij. “Remote working will be the norm going forward. Technology and collaboration using digital tools and platforms is only going to increase. The digital literacy piece is very important, and so is imparting that to other citizens.”