23 Sep 2020
This crisis has been the mother of all learnings. A new normal has emerged, and we need to re- learn, adapt fast and smart. The most profound lesson has been to slow down the life's pace, be kind to nature and invest in sustaining the future. As an individual, I have learnt to shift focus from smart leadership to involved leadership.
Today, our team needs us more than ever before. A realisation that you are not the only one; everyone is going through the crisis and maybe more than you. Do care and address their personal and family anxieties. Hence, do make your employees feel that today, you are working more for them than for the business. This approach shall ultimately lead to better commitment and hence improved business.
As a person responsible for the success of my company, which is primarily into culinary skills education, one has realised that greater automation, enhanced use of communication technology and e-learning shall be the norm of future education.
Due to the social distancing protocol, lab kitchen classes shall take only limited no of students, hence flexi and variable working hours like MULTIPLEXES shall be the new normal.
We must create new and creative options to maximise the use of our infrastructure by expanding the learning options to future student chefs. The industry too has to review its commitment and support to Culinary Institutes so that a suitably trained, and ready- for-employment task force is available to adopt to the new work culture in hospitality industry.
We must train and develop new chefs, who are familiar with revised expectations of hygiene, sanitation, and capacity to work without supervision; thus, merging the role of a cook and a chef.
We are certainly heading for challenging times, full of opportunities for those who are creative and willing to give the customer a superior experience while ensuring complete adherence to the new norms.
People have to eat, celebrate, and socialize as part of their basic needs. It is up to us, the hospitality professionals, on how we respond to this demand. Customers would certainly like to be convinced about the safety of the food they are going to consume. Industry professionals may be very confident of their efforts to provide safe food, but the challenge shall be of how to assure our customers and give them the same level of confidence that we have in our product.
The reality of the matter is that all businesses and per- sonal lifestyles have been grossly impacted due to this new normal. Today, all organisations are confronted with similar challenges that have adversely impacted business performances.
This situation has not only resulted in your personal discomfort, due to lockdown protocol, including deep concerns about our own safety but also our business revenue model and operations methodology.
No one can say with complete confidence, that how long this will last, but there is no doubt that this is a long-term situation. It is therefore important that we fully comprehend the situation and initiate necessary actions to meet the challenges of the future.
The key areas of impact can be identified as follows:
A. BUSINESS has been negatively impacted, resulting in reduced admissions, discontinuation of other institutional activities that generated additional revenues.
B. FACULTY & STAFF MOVEMENT has been constrained
due to containment zones, the absence or reduced public transport, and personal safety concerns.
C. OPERATIONS at the Institute has almost come to a standstill,
with extremely limited use of the vast infrastructure available to us.
D. OPERATING COSTS are more or less fixed and hence unavoidable, especially payroll, electricity, rentals, generator charges, miscellaneous maintenance expenses, and government taxes.
The real challenge is to understand the situation we are in and take decisive actions, professional and personal, to come out, not only as survivors but as winners.Let us understand, what the future work culture shall be like:
1) TECHNOLOGY: The use of electronic communication technology is going to be the dominant force in our day-to-day work environment. This will ensure social distancing, reduce the need to travel to the workplace, and cover a larger section of the student community.
2) FLEXI OPERATION HOURS: The concept of fixed working hours (9 am to 6 pm) may not be possible anymore. Since the workspace capacity is being substantially reduced (due to social distancing protocol), working hours may have to be staggered to maximize the use of the workspace, the same as multiplexes have done to movie halls. No more three shows of 12 to 3, 3 to 6, and 9 to 12 pm.
3) DUTY ROASTERS: These shall also need to be redesigned with Flexi working hours, as demanded by the operation hours. This means that the staff schedule may show different time schedules for different staff, depending upon the scheduled timing of the classes.
4) SELF DEVELOPMENT: This is the most significant aspect of future work culture. The world is changing amazingly fast around us, and our current work skills may not be enough to meet the expectations of a dynamically changing work culture. Every staff member must look inward to identify opportunities to learn and acquire new skills to supplement our current skills – acquiring proficiency in communication technology being the most important skill that must be honed.
5) MULTI SKILLING: The future shall place a premium on those who are multi-skilled and can do additional jobs than the ones they are trained in or have as their prime core competency. If your core competency is, say, the French cuisine, then, maybe, you would like to be a good baker & confectioner as well and vice versa. A good accountant may also learn counseling skills, etc.
6) NEW BUSINESS IDEAS: What was normal till today, may become passé tomorrow due to the lack of demand or constraints in movement. We need to look out for new ideas and opportunities that can be executed by using our existing infrastructure or new skills we may have acquired on our own.