The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have transformed the world of work overnight. While many have struggled to adapt to remote working and virtual communication, others have pushed themselves to learn new ways of working, communicating, and collaborating. 

The five Harappa Habits—Think, Solve, Communicate, Collaborate, and Lead—have proved most useful for professionals navigating the challenges of the lockdown and the uncertainty of the post-COVID world.

In the twelfth of our series of interviews with Harappa faculty, we spoke to brand strategist and consultant psychologist Lubna Khan about her experience of coping with the lockdown and the shift to remote working. Lubna tells us how she has adapted to virtual communication and remote working in both her fields of work.

As a psychologist and strategist whose work is heavily dependent on nonverbal communication from her clients and research respondents, she had to unlearn and relearn the nuances of virtual communication.

Harappa Habits for the Post-COVID World

Lubna believes that the most significant Harappa Habit she used in this period is Collaborate as harmonious collaborations have been critical during the lockdown. 

 “Not only do we now have to do every work meeting virtually, brainstorming, in-depth discussions and workshops have also taken place over video conferences,” she says.

She sees this period as an opportunity to learn and practice resilience and cope with change positively. With our everyday life, work, and culture likely to be transformed by this crisis. Lubna feels that the ability to adapt to change will hold professionals, especially young professionals, in good stead in these times.

Adapting to Virtual Communication

For Lubna, the big change in this period has been that everyone has had to embrace virtual technology and find ways to make it work. 

In some professions/industries, this is more a matter of shifting communication online and learning how to use new tools to communicate virtually. However, in other fields that are dependent on face-to-face interactions, the shift to online communication has prompted professionals to rethink their entire approach to their work. 

As a psychologist, Lubna usually relies a lot on her clients’ body language to understand what they are really saying beyond their words. Nonverbal communication is a key element of communication in her field. 

With the lockdown in place, face-to-face sessions have moved online. This meant a lot of unlearning and relearning for her. She found that virtual communication takes away some non-verbal communication cues and brings into focus many others that were otherwise ignored (like what is in the background during a video call). 

Skills for Success

The pandemic has driven people to learn new skills and become more agile. Seasoned workers and young professionals alike have found themselves trying to learn new soft and technical skills and adapt existing skills to thrive in the workplace.

Lubna has always been passionate about learning new things every day. During the lockdown, she has had more time to do online courses and read more from her pile of books. 

She says she found herself not really adopting new skills during the lockdown but making use of various aspects of her existing skillset. She has honed her virtual communication skills, especially persuasion. The extra time from the lockdown has aided in more reflective thinking and better synthesis of thoughts, which she hopes will show in her professional writing.

Coming to her own area of work, brand strategy consulting, Lubna says she sees a push towards learning new skills. Technical skills such as qualitative and quantitative research using digital technology have been par for the course. 

However, earlier, these skills were only a small part of research but this has changed in a big way due to the lockdown. “All of us are trying out new methodologies and tools to achieve our market research goals,” she says.

Lubna thinks many things will remain the same in the near future because organizational work culture is deeply embedded and also influenced by broader cultural factors. But a desire for a sense of purpose and meaning coming out from what one does will undoubtedly become more important for many people. 

Read the other blogs in this series here and here.

With virtual learning being the new normal now, improve your public speaking skills with Harappa's Speaking Effectively course. Learn how to present your ideas clearly and precisely with our Online Courses and make your world of work better. Explore topics such as Writing Skills, Process of Writing, Report Writing & Types of Reporting from our Harappa Diaries blog section to build your skills for workplace success.

Lubna Khan was interviewed by Sanjay Deshpande who is a Senior Specialist in the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education.

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