The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many changes to workplaces worldwide. And some of these changes are here to stay—for the better. Here are five of the most likely permanent changes to work and workplaces as a result of Covid-19.
1. More remote work. For (almost) everyone.
If employees and companies have learned anything during the pandemic and quarantine, it’s that they can survive and, more importantly, thrive in an entirely remote working environment. It’s astonishing how quickly and successfully organizations around the world have pivoted to create fully remote workplaces. Of course, organizations won’t continue en masse to operate fully remote workplaces when the pandemic has run its course and a vaccine is widespread. But many organizations will understand the benefit of implementing much more remote work, and remote work will increase as a result.
The cost savings alone will be worth it. Think of all the commuting, real estate, and hardware (computers, phones, desks, furniture) costs that can be saved in the long run if remote work increases. Not to mention the increased employee satisfaction, and thus increased employee engagement, and thus increased productivity that will result.
As for which roles will see a spike in remote work, all types of office professionals who only require an internet connection and computer will work remotely in larger numbers post-Covid-19. So will scores of others. For example, health care professionals and teachers of all kinds will work remotely more often, as telemedicine and virtual appointments and classes become the rule rather than the exception.
In this time of quarantine, it’s been proven that so many roles can endure the move to a remote environment. And so, if there’s one safe bet in the wake of the pandemic, it’s that remote work in large numbers is here to stay.
2. Increased work/life flexibility. And not just for parents.
Just like the idea that we need to be in an office to be productive, the idea that we need to work a consecutive eight-, nine-, or 10-hour shift is also stale idea—which, pre-pandemic, didn’t work all that well to begin with. Before Covid-19, the 9-to-5 grind had long been a complaint of parents who’ve been forced to enlist babysitters and miss large portions of their children’s lives in order to sit at a desk between certain hours of the day.
Now, thanks to quarantine, numerous people in addition to parents have come to realize that the workday doesn’t necessarily need to be 9 to 5, or 10 to 6, or 7 to 4. That is, with so many people at home taking care of children or sick or immune-compromised relatives and still able to get all their work done, it’s become clear that work hours don’t need to be consecutive. Instead, if an employee has commitments outside of work that need to be done between 9 and 5, working hours could be spread throughout the day, say, from 9 to 11, then 1 to 4, then 7 to 10—with no harm done to work output. Also, managers are finding out that their employees are indeed responsible adults—and that work output and productivity doesn’t necessarily correlate with face time in the office.
Flexibility to get your work done when you want has long been the main reason people have gone remote. But why can’t flexibility be a benefit for all workers? Can’t people who aren’t fully remote workers feel free to work when it’s best suitable for them as long as all their work gets done and done well? The answer is yes. And so, look for all workers, not just remote workers, and not just workers with children, to be given a lot more flexibility post-pandemic. It will be a way for managers and companies that have historically frowned upon remote work to increase employee work/life balance
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