Concerns about safety and benefits among PR pros as they adapt to a WFH and office hybrid

With Unlock 1.0 in place, PR and corporate communications are looking at the prospect of going back to work in stages.

Moushumi Pal, founder, Woodpecker Media, admits that, "The fear of uncertainty, the fear of getting infected by the deadly virus, and the fear of commuting daily and being a part of community spread is definitely a mental stress. Such emotional challenges will surface."

Meghna Nupur, PR Manager, Hats-Off Digital says, "The biggest challenge that I foresee is the hygiene as today it’s not just about physical sanitation but more about physical sanitization. As there will be more public contact therefore we need to make sure that we keep social distance and sanitize ourselves at our workplace to keep ourselves safe! Also, going back to work routine life will not be easy as we have adapted different set of routine which is easy for us."

Siddharth Khanna, co-founder and CEO, Brand Visage Communications points out that, "It will still take some time for agencies to work with their full strength and many will continue to work the way we been doing since the past 2.5 months now."

Online client pitches are tough

Khanna adds that, "Operationally this will become a bit challenging for the strategy and planning teams which usually focuses on team brainstorming sessions which sometimes gets tough on zoom or teams calls. Also, when the team will start working together, the fear will always stay as you don’t know from where the other team member is coming from specially if they take public transport which will also add to emotional distress. 

While we’ve won two pitches on Zoom, another operational challenge in the long run will be meeting the clients for pitches as I feel that adds to the impact of the agency's idea and relationship building. Positive energies during pitches and client meetings also play a very important role which will act as a hindrance at least for a while now."

Sandhya Sutodia, co-founder, Turiya Communication LLP,  says "Most of the employees are concerned about healthcare facilities and paid sick leaves that are available to them. Most of the employees are now working remotely. Most of the firms only have two options right now, i.e. adopt work-from-home (WFH) model and to minimise cost of operation as much as possible."

Complete change in HR approach for PR professionals

Sutodia explains, "The second strategy is more difficult in nature as it involves allowing people to come to office with proper hygiene maintenance in both work place and public areas.Looking at the next 1 to 3 years horizon and beyond, a new work from office and HR model will evolve going forward. The new integrated facilities in management will include operations, security, sanitization, hygiene. Future human resource patterns will have new components like employee experience, organisations will have to come up with their remote working policies to understand who really needs to come into the office and who can continue to work remotely."

No hurry to have people return to offices, safety first

Anshuman Misra, head - HR with digital marketing firm, Logicserve Digital,  agrees saying, "Post lockdown, we surely do not plan to get the entire team back to the office at once. Rather, we would follow a phased approach in this case. We would start with the support services to ensure that the office premises are ready for our employees. This will be followed by the IT and admin teams along with housekeeping staff and then those employees who are not able to work from home and can safely travel to the office.

We are not at all in a hurry to get people back to office, and they would be allowed to work from home as long as the situation asks for it. Some categories of people will not be allowed to resume office at all currently and would be asked to compulsorily work from home till the situation stabilises. These are the people with some health conditions, those who have young kids or senior citizens at home."

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