Working for more than one organization: Given that there are no work-time constraints and flexibility in work hours, some employees may experiment working with two organizations simultaneously, more as a work challenge and to upgrade their skills, rather than for the extra remuneration.

Vivek spearheads operations, supply management, training, investor relations management, and HR for Wishup. Vivek is an alumnus of two prestigious educational institutes; he pursued Chemical Engineering from IIT, Madras and went on to pursue an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad. He kick-started his career as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in 2013 and soon joined hands with Neelesh to launch their brainchild — Wishup. Ever since, Vivek has worked on building a platform that gives employment opportunities to experienced remote workers and global talent access to enterprises.

“Remote working is an idea whose time has come.”

This quote aptly sums up the world’s response to remote working and its role in helping businesses grow and remain competitive. While the pandemic caused colossal losses, it also introduced people to the concept of remote working and enjoying a better work-life balance.

In fact, so successful was the concept of working from home that people worldwide actually revolted when companies started calling them back to the office, leading to the “Great Resignation,” as we now know it.

As someone who has experience of remote working firsthand and is a pioneer in the remote working space Vivek Gupta of Wishup definitely knows what it takes for remote working to succeed and how employers and employees are reworking together in the new normal.

The need of the hour, as per Vivek, is for employers to have more empathy towards their employees, while employees need to be more understanding of businesses’ concerns and the tough times they are going through.

As part of our series on the “Great Resignation,” Vivek shares these and more insights on the way forward for both employees and employers.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

Studying in IIT Madras and meeting Neelesh, my co-founder, is one of the most significant life experiences that has shaped who I am today. The initial years when we launched our WhatsApp-based concierge services for small businesses comes a close second. It has been instrumental in redefining our vision of the type of business we wanted to build and how we wanted to make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs.

What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce, and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I see hybrid working as the norm in the future; as employees and employers align themselves to changing work patterns or modules. I also see a strong relationship between them since both employees and employers are going through turbulent times together.

The effects of the pandemic and “Great Resignation” are not temporary. They will profoundly impact employers’ mindsets, who will build up protective systems so that they don’t experience the same thing again.

Organizations may also opt to automate most of their routine tasks and use AI for essential services that need human interaction, such as customer support, technical helplines, etc.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Hiring and retaining remote workers mandatorily as a percentage of their workforce should definitely be on their cards if they want to future-proof their organizations.

That will help them safeguard against any future mass resignation issues and ramp up faster in areas with high growth potential.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

Location-based remuneration will be one of the biggest gaps between employers and employees as we move forward. Employees based in small towns will not be comfortable being paid lower than their counterparts in bigger cities, given that remote working is a level playing field.

Going forward, employees based in metros, who expect to get paid higher due to higher living costs, need to understand that it is a personal perk they want to enjoy, and as such, they need to pay from their pockets for it.

Another area of concern that’s gradually building up is the availability of employees whenever employers need them, i.e., during the employer’s work hours. So that means no flexible timings or running errands during work hours. In this scenario, employers need to be more flexible. Given the different time zones teams operate in, it becomes imperative for some employees to work outside their regular working hours and comfort zones. Due to this factor, employers need to be more reasonable and flexible when pushing for regular hours and on-time availability.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

People are social animals and have an inherent desire to bond with others. Our football games and other social events are a testimony to this. But, at the same time, the flexibility and quality of life people enjoyed while working from home is not something that they would like to give up easily.

The mid-path I foresee in the future is a hybrid model, wherein people attend offices for designated days or weeks in a month, with the rest of the time spent working from home. Employers will also need to consider giving employees the freedom of choice as to when they would like to work from home and on-site from the office.

To maintain their organization’s consistency and smooth functioning, many companies will also start relying more on remote workers or virtual assistants for all routine and specialized tasks.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

I see people moving away from city centers and high rent areas towards the countryside, less dense areas with a better quality of life. Open spaces, sporting facilities, and easy access to healthcare centers will make a significant difference in the residential preferences of the new remote working workforce.

On the personal front, people will no longer be limited to opportunities based on their geographical presence, as the whole world becomes one big remote working community. Mind you; this will work both ways as organizations too will be able to tap into a global pool of talent, as they too will not be restricted by geographical boundaries.

Governments worldwide will need to focus more on providing better and more reliable work-from-home infrastructure, especially in developing countries where internet bandwidth is still limited. I also see an emphasis on English as a preferred communication medium that will cut across all workplace borders and make communication within teams easier.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

I think we have now seen it all and are prepared for every eventuality. The world has literally risen from the ashes and shown its resilience in the face of a colossal pandemic.

We have demonstrated our ability to adapt to changing scenarios and keep the work environment flowing.

Our ability to adapt and innovate is my biggest source of optimism about the future of work. It can only get better after this.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

Organizations have been quick to recognize the fact that remote working lacks a personal touch and that there needs to be more empathy and a support system for employees.

Holding bi-annual and annual meets is a possible solution for employees to connect and get to know each other personally. In addition, these meets can be organized from the savings organizations usually incur on office infrastructure and other expenses.

I also see organizations investing in their employees’ wellbeing and health plans, with fitness and wellness experts just a call away. Subscriptions to the local wellness centers and gyms can also motivate employees to get more physically active while operating from a work-from-home environment.

Encouraging employees to pursue their other interests during work hours could also help beat the monotony of remote working.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. Working for more than one organization: Given that there are no work-time constraints and flexibility in work hours, some employees may experiment working with two organizations simultaneously, more as a work challenge and to upgrade their skills, rather than for the extra remuneration.
  2. Sharing of resources between organizations: Similarly, we could see two similar but not competing organizations sharing common resources such as Administration, HR, Bookkeeping, etc., to cut down on their costs and remain more competitive in the market.
  3. Hybrid organizations: To ensure that they can retain both sets of talent, i.e., those who love working from home or prefer an office environment, organizations will need to adopt a hybrid model.
  4. Virtual Assistants: Organizations will no longer rely on high-cost local human resources for mundane office tasks. Instead, they will hire virtual assistants to manage the same due to lower hiring and overhead costs, faster onboarding, no recruitment and training costs, and, more importantly, consistent work performance.
  5. No discrimination in pay scales: All people with similar work profiles or designations would be paid the same, no matter where they work geographically. You could be working from the chic apartments of New York or a remote town in Africa and still expect the same compensation.

What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

This has to be my all-time favorite quote, as I have personally experienced the same many times. As a student at IIT, I never imagined that I would be at the forefront of a service that would help entrepreneurs and small businesses work more efficiently and cost-effectively.

This quote aptly sums up my journey and has helped me keep things in perspective whenever I face challenging decisions or a crisis.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Richard Branson would definitely be on this list.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

I am always open to new connections on LinkedIn and look forward to engaging with your readers on it.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.