In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still dealing with the ramifications and new norms that have been wrought. The virus has changed so much about how we live, how we think about our health, and how we think about social activities. No aspect of society, however, has been altered as prolifically as the modern workplace.
As we move forward past the pandemic, it is important to review what those changes have been — and how they continue to impact how we work.
- Work-from-home is now commonplace. According to a Gallup poll, more than 60% of employees worked from home during the height of the pandemic quarantine that begins in April. And according to a report by McKinsey & Co., 80% of people that participated in this survey said that they enjoy working from home and 41% said they were more productive when they work from home. Many of these companies, including Dropbox, Novartis, Coinbase, Brex, Twitter, and Shopify, will continue to let these employees work from home full-time even after the pandemic is over. Many of these organizations are investing in helping employees settle into this new way of working by purchasing the right furniture and technology, providing training on work-from-home strategies, and investing in virtual office solutions, such as those offered by intelligentoffice.ca.
- The essential worker has been redefined. There is no question that first responders and healthcare workers have always and will always be categorized as essential workers. But, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the range of workers that were also categorized as essential was sometimes surprising. In fact, according to a KFF surveyreleased in May 2020, 34%, of U.S. adults said they were deemed an essential worker and at that point were working outside their home. These essential workers included everyone from grocery store employees to fast food restaurant employees, raising questions for many about how much these employees were getting paid to potentially put their lives on the line to serve customers.
- Collaboration technology has become big business. During the pandemic, connecting with employees, friends, and family had to go virtual, which had many companies investing in often-ignored technology such as video conferencing and virtual collaboration tools, including virtual whiteboard tools. With these tools, companies are investing in helping their employees learn to not only use but act on these tools. No longer will it be acceptable for employees to think of a video conference as a lazy way to interact with their teammates, vendors, and clients. Instead, they have to figure how to engage even when they are on-screen and not in person.
The new norm of how we work will take time to come to grips with, but in many ways, the lasting effects of COVID in the office may bring some changes for the better.