The Coronavirus pandemic has forever altered the workplace. Not only did unemployment skyrocket to 14.4 percent in April, but those with jobs have significantly adjusted their workflow and daily lives. Companies shifted to completely remote offices in a matter of days. Employees suddenly faced work from home challenges having to learn new technologies, navigate work with kids in the next room, and become a teacher (homeschooling) all at the same time. Now, as many countries around the world start to shift into the new normal, here are a few predictions about the future of work after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Increase in telework
After the world’s largest remote work experiment, many companies will see the benefit in distributed offices and opt to stay partially or fully remote. After piloting telework policies, businesses understand that they can save money on overhead, offer better work-life balance to their staff, and hire from a larger talent pool.
“Our prediction is that the longer people are required to work at home, the greater the adoption we will see when the dust settles,” explains Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. Lister forecasts that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will work remote multiple days per week by the end of 2021.
Once the pandemic subsides, employers will need to assess their flexible work policies. Firstly, companies that require in-office work may stagger employee shifts, so there are fewer people in the workplace at the same time. Secondly, the employees that were successful in working from home will be allowed to continue telework, which will also help them balance work and life.
Rachel Greszler, a labor expert at the Heritage Foundation, confirmed this prediction in her recent article about the future of work. “Today’s forced telework experience provides an opportunity for workers to prove if they can maintain their productivity and responsiveness from home, and an opportunity for employers to learn what type of work can be done remotely, and what is still difficult or impossible.”
Greszler continues: “One benefit of forced remote work could be an increase in workplace flexibility and teleworking options.”
This change will also lead to a shift in overall management practices. Bosses will have to adapt from a nine-to-five mentality to keep track of productivity in other ways, such as measurable OKRs or using time-keeping programs.
More virtual events and conferences
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, hundreds of industry events were either canceled or translated to a virtual platform. With the fate of large-scale gatherings still unknown, more and more companies will keep their events virtual. As both hosts and participants become more comfortable with virtual networking, that will become the norm.
What’s more, a professional who once might have paid thousands of dollars to travel to an event can now enjoy the same even for less money from the comfort of their home office.
Prioritization of home offices
While many new remote workers may have started shelter-in-place on their kitchen counter or coffee table, there’s a need to set up a dedicated workspace as work from home becomes a permanent situation. As such, many companies are giving employees stipends to set up their home office so that they’re comfortable, productive, and effective.
Companies that realize the saved overhead from managing fewer dedicated office spaces can transfer those funds to prioritize the home office for remote workers.
Based on the example set by other companies, there will be a trickle-down effect on businesses, both small and large following suite and building home office benefits into their compensation packages.
Updated office layouts
Businesses that require a physical office space will need to adapt as well. Where startup culture once inspired modern open floor plans, large shared spaces, and meeting rooms, the need for social distancing will lead to new layouts. Some companies may even choose to return to cubicles and partitions.
Real estate company Cushman & Wakefield instituted the 6 Feet Office, a conceptual design that distances employees to help office workers to safely return to work.
Increased focus on health and wellness
Pre-pandemic, it was commonplace for employees to come into the workplace even when sick. A 2019 TSheets PTO Survey found that 84 percent of employees with PTO still went into the office sick, and 33 percent said their employer created a culture of working while sick.
Now that employers are hyper-aware of the spread of germs and illness, coming ill at the office will come to an end. Employers are even taking the temperature of employees before entering the office, a practice recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in US and mandatory in other countries.
An overall emphasis on wellness will also encompass mental health as many companies help their employees navigate the stress and isolation that has come with quarantining. Employers caring more about the health of their staff during this time will create long-term trends that hopefully continue even after the pandemic ends.
Coronavirus will impact the future of work for years to come
The pandemic and months of quarantine will play a vital role in the evolution of modern office and work trends. Companies that adapt and innovate will see the best results. And agility will be rewarded with a more cohesive experience for employees and employers alike.
So how was your work or your team’s work impacted by this pandemic? Leave us a comment in the section below and let’s start a debate about the future of work.