Remember when everyone suddenly got a 2-week off from both school and work and thought that was the most amazing thing that ever happened? Yea, we do too. Then it turns out to be one of the most traumatic, unstable and life-changing experiences that we all share.
As controversial as this may sound, it has been a once in a lifetime event. COVID has made both negative and positive changes in ways that we could never imagine. And one of the biggest changes would definitely be the workplace.
1. Corporate flexibility.
People quickly figured out how to work from home. When the pandemic subsides, WFH will remain popular with professionals, and that will force companies — even those that were not the biggest proponents of having a virtual workforce — to become more flexible. Now that more people have had a taste of it and proven their productivity, it will be hard for companies to take it away from their talent. A Gallup survey revealed that 54% of U.S. workers would leave their current job for one that allowed them to work remotely.
And while professionals were celebrating their 30-second commute, it became clear to companies that the huge line item on their spreadsheets for real estate may not be the best way to spend their money. Having people work from home — even if it’s not everyone all the time — is proving to be profitable.
Yet we won’t see a wholesale move to remote work. Flexibility will be the new mantra — where people will be given more freedom to choose WFH. Some professionals actually missed the commute and cherished their in-person connections. So the new normal will be increased flexibility.
2. Headquarters 2.0.
Your corporate office will look and operate differently. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that when workers go back to work, temperature checks and social distancing will likely be implemented. And that will persist for a while. But offices will be more about interaction and community than about heads-down focus on individual productivity now that vaccines are available.
Conference rooms, meeting spaces and video studios will take up a lot of office space. The workplace will become a far more social environment, not a “lock myself in the office” scenario. It will be designed to foster and promote interaction and community engagement — taking advantage of the times talent is collocated in one place. Our humanity and connection are what separate us from robots and COVID-19 has made us appreciate those interactions more than ever.
3. Work-ready homes.
Many professionals found WFH a challenge not because of isolation, but because they didn’t have the ideal space or a dedicated home office. One of the biggest challenges people experienced while WFH was internet performance. WhistleOut, a company that provides information about mobile phone and internet services, performed research on adults who transitioned to WFH. 35% of those surveyed said that weak Internet has prevented them from doing their work at some point during the Coronavirus crisis and 43% said they have had to use their phone as a hotspot during the crisis.
Internet in homes will improve drastically and quickly. Home offices and even home video studios will become a priority. As new homes are built or existing ones are remodeled, WFH considerations will be the top priority for many. Technology will be developed to create an environment that more closely resembles a WeWork than a suburban townhouse.
4. E-learning for everyone.
We all know that learning is now front and center, and many organizations realize that upskilling and right-skilling are essential for innovation and strategic advantage. But post COVID-19, e-learning will become a bigger part of ongoing learning. In-person learning programs won’t go away, but they’ll be reserved for certain functions and certain populations within the company. Ramping up their e-learning platforms, companies moved quickly to ensure that their people were still building important skills and developing professionally.
5. Business attire is retiring.
We got comfortable with getting comfortable. You may have dressed up for work before COVID-19. And even if you got dressed up every day while WFH, it’s unlikely that you would put on a suit or heels. Sure, Anna Wintour likely won’t walk into Vogue in sweats (unless that’s the new fashion sensation) and maybe some people in Finance will keep the button-down and tie or the blouse and pearls, but the trend toward casual attire will accelerate quickly. Already, some consulting firms and other organizations have “dress for your day” policies where if you’re not meeting with clients, you can leave the suit at home. Besides, people working in tech have been wearing shorts and flip flops to work for decades.
6. Video virtuosos.
Video is at the heart of many of the changes above. The developers behind Zoom, WebEx, Hangouts, Skype and other video communications tools made the grand WFH experiment possible. Video became fully integrated into the work experience in an astonishing variety of ways. Queens-based real estate brokerage Modern Spaces created a group TikTok channel, where its marketing team took on TikTok challenges, creating funny, light-hearted videos to make the agents smile.
As supervisors and staffers have gotten used to seeing each other in their natural habitats, the line that separates work life and personal life has faded. Ironically, technology has made this transition possible, but it has also led to a decidedly low-tech reality: this new corporate world has made us value our organic, non-robotic humanity more than ever before.
While the pandemic is coming to an end, the life and the office that we once knew will be more different than ever. While COVID has brought workers all kinds of difficulties and obstacles, it has taught everyone a good lesson on customized and creative workplaces that we can create and have as our new office. It may no longer be a cubicle or high-rise office, nor will it be your kitchen table or sofa couch. It may not be standard meeting rooms but rather technology-advanced conference rooms. The possibilities are endless. Companies will have to find what is the best option to ensure maximum productivity and guarantee human interaction and innovation while also minimizing costs and adapting to employee needs.
After all, what we want the most is to end this chapter of COVID because only once that door closes can another (office) door open.
The JobHopin Team
Sources: Article edited from Forbes: 6 ways COVID-19 will change the workplace forever: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2020/05/07/6-ways-covid-19-will-change-the-workplace-forever/?sh=24abee3323e7