A Year of Coronavirus
The coronavirus has been one of the most traumatic experiences of our lives. It has had a huge impact already and it will continue to do so in the years to come. It’s dramatically changed everybody’s lives from going grocery shopping, attending school, and working.
Despite the intensity of the pandemic, some people still had to go to work. However, there will have been new rules and regulations put into place to protect the safety of the employees.
It’s hard to imagine, but the crisis will end, and things will need to get ‘back to normal'. But what will the new normal look like?
Coronavirus in the Workplace
Although lockdowns and isolation were for the short term, there will be long term effects of this pandemic. The future looks uncertain but there are things that could be changing for the better.
The pandemic has given us the opportunity to reimagine everything about how we do our jobs and how we run our companies. We need to move past the decades of 9-to-5, office-centric work and inefficient processes. We’ll all have to adapt our mindsets as the coronavirus permanently changes the way we work.
Here are a few changes we’ve already seen made because of the pandemic…
Outcomes from Coronavirus
More than half of the global workforce is working remotely as the pandemic continues to threaten health. Many people had to make the switch to remote work overnight - living rooms and kitchen countertops were converted into workspaces within hours.
Working from home will remain popular with many people. There are so many benefits including no commute time, saving travel costs, better work-life balance and a positive environmental impact. During lockdown, employees have proven their productivity, so it’ll be hard for employers to take this benefit away from them.
We’ve seen a lot of companies make the transition to remote working completely. They’re saving money on real estate and could potentially give this back to their employees who have had to deal with the increased bills from WFH. Companies may also be able to source diverse talent more easily as there is no restriction of their geographical location.
However, some people found that WFH was difficult because they miss the day-to-day social interactions and face-to-face conversations that give them a sense of belonging, enables collaboration, builds relationships, and generate ideas.
Another change has been the acceptance of flexible hours. All employees are different and the traditional 9-5 workday may not suit their individual circumstances. Maybe they’ve got kids, or maybe they’re more productive in the mornings. By allowing flexible working hours you give them the ability to choose their working day.
Businesses are becoming more open to remote and flexible working. With hybrid working options, you can keep the best parts of office culture while freeing employees from the daily commute. It’s the perfect way to keep all employees happy.
If businesses still need their offices, it will look very different from what we’re used to. For example, temperature checks and hand sanitiser may be mandatory as soon as you enter the building.
There have been some short-term fixes such as new working patterns (or a staggard workforce) by reducing the number of staff in the office at any one time which minimises the number of people coming into contact with one another. Social distancing measures have also been put into place.
There may need to be long-term design upgrades that put hygiene at the forefront. For example, new protocols for deep cleaning and sanitization may be needed. It could also mean changes to the layout of the workspace, such as moving desks farther apart or adding a ‘sneeze guard’ which can protect neighbours from contaminating each other.
One thing is for certain, the office will become a more social environment. You won’t find people locking themselves in their office, they’ll want to promote interaction and engagement.
THE HOME OFFICE
A lot of people found working from home a challenge, not because of the isolation, but because they didn’t have an adequate set up. Not everyone has an ideal space for a home office, nor might they have adequate internet requirements or technology (i.e. laptop). Some people simply just cannot afford these luxuries.
If this is the case, companies need to provide the proper technology and space where their employees can work safely.
However, in the coming years, we might find that new homes are being built with WFH in mind, or old homes will be remodelled to provide space for a home office.
Upskilling is essential in any job role.
However, in the past, lots of corporate programmes involved in-person workshops and seminars. Without being able to leave the house, businesses needed to find an alternative way to train their employees.
Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge rise in e-learning. These online courses can be attended by anyone with internet access and a laptop. Companies still want their employees to be developing professionally and e-learning is a great way to do so.
Before COVID-19, you may have gone to the office dressed for work in a suit and tie. Maybe, once a week, you’d have ‘dress down Friday’ where you’d come in jeans and a t-shirt. Those days seem to be disappearing.
While everyone was working from home, they got comfortable with being comfortable. Without having to leave the house, or even leave the bedroom, it was normal to wear whatever you wanted. It was accepted by all that you didn’t have to dress up - unless something important was happening.
The lines between work life and personal life have faded. Casual attire will likely take over the workplace. New policies such as “dress for your day” ensures people who are not meeting with clients can wear whatever they like.
Previously, productivity was measured by attendance and whether employees were sat by their desks when they should be. But when employees are WFH, how can you know they are actually working?
At the beginning of the lockdowns, there was a lot of micromanagement happening. Business leaders didn’t trust their employees and, potentially, employees were taking advantage of not being in the office.
With this in mind, there needed to be a change in the way we measure productivity. Managers should look at the output-based ways of monitoring people’s performance rather than the time they spend in front of their screen.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s about video calls. Companies like Zoom, WebEx, Skype and Teams were commonly used daily no matter what. It wasn’t only the workforce that was using this software, friend and families were investing in it to socialise while being in different locations. Now everyone is familiar with video communications.
The way we communicate and connect will be forever changed. Thousands of businesses owners were able to maintain (and even grow) during the pandemic using video to connect with their customers.
The Effects of Coronavirus
You can’t ignore it. These changes have happened (and will continue to happen) globally. From the normalisation of remote working to the reliance on technology, coronavirus has had an effect on everyone. There is no end date to the pandemic, so it’s all guesswork at the moment.
Will we go to the office again? Will e-commerce continue to grow? Will remote healthcare continue? Will online education stick? Will we always have to wear face masks?