The response to COVID-19 has led to one of the fastest reorganizations of the modern workforce and working from home has become the new normal for many.

Even months after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, the future still looks uncertain. Millions upon millions of people have survived through the lockdowns and we still do not know when, or if ever, our life will go back to normal.

This article will look at how the pandemic has changed the workforce, for many, in positive ways. With remote work and working from home taking over, we see how the value of employees has increased. Along with that change, we peek into how meetings will evolve and the potential for this to be permanent.

It is not great for everyone. There are many whose jobs require them to leave their homes, and in that group there are many who depended on those who used to go into work, but are now staying home.

The Shift from Office to Home

Research has found that the majority of remote workers never want to go back to their old ways. If they have to, many request a hybrid-remote office version. Slightly more than 10% want to return to full time. While we still are unsure about what is going to stay and what is going to change, we can be certain that it will not be completely the same.

For many work-from-home (WFH) employees, this shift is substantial. They now have the freedom in choices that involve where they live, when they work and their working conditions. With this possibility it is no wonder that many are providing higher quality of work.

This sudden change has provided businesses an opportunity to reorganize their workforce structure. Those that do it the best will inspire workers, increase engagement and generate successful frameworks. They will be given a competitive advantage as times change.

Being able to maneuver past the old ways of 9-5 office life will allow companies to remove the bad habits and inefficient processes. This gives the opportunity for leaders who want to do things better and faster, the chance to do so. It is up to them to capitalize on this once in a lifetime occurrence.

Permanence

Around five million people knew what working from home was like before the pandemic. After the pandemic, nearly 61% of the workforce has joined them. This has led to increased levels of communication and productivity, which is why working from home may become more permanent in society.

The reality seems more like an in between for many. Employees would be given the flexible lifestyle that WFH offers, but would visit the office for meetings or events. There are a few big named companies, such as twitter, that announced employees would be allowed to work from home permanently.

Some research has shown that businesses have expectations of keeping employees performing remote work. More than 40% are believed to be allowed to keep their work from home status. The one takeaway is, 9-5 work life is not going to be the norm.

 Meetings

Virtual meetings are an aspect of remote work that carries negativity. This is because video calls take a lot more work to get organized. There are now webcams and microphones that need to be working and they are in their own home, which could be loud or distracting. Virtual meetings demand more structure and time in comparison to in person.

While virtual meetings are becoming more prevalent, they come with an added benefit too. They prevent travel costs for some employers. During the pandemic, this is great.

We believe everyone has been a part of a meeting that had no information. It was just a grouping to talk about nonsense. This is why some businesses are removing meetings entirely. Using email and instant messaging allows the point to get across without all the technical parts of a virtual meeting.

Employees Time and Health

At the start of the pandemic, many employers were “stalking” their employees – following their keystrokes and monitoring their webpages. This backfired for some when privacy issues started to get announced.

These actions also lead to a lack of trust between the two parties, which leads to a decrease in productivity and motivation – two traits that tend to increase in remote work environments. It is important to check-in to ensure that work is being completed, but do not stand over their shoulder.

At the end of the day, it is about the quality of the work that gets done, not how long it takes. We believe that there will be a shift in how employees’ productivity is measured.

For those that are going into work, there is a positive change in how your employer values you. Several of the largest companies have not implemented mandatory temperature screenings. Every business now has sanitation stations. Your health now matters more than ever as an employee. Compared to the past view—come to work sick or get fired.

When we mention health, we must start to include mental health as well. There are big changes happening, which can cause serious stress for individuals. They may not know of proper methods to cope with this new stress.

As a business owner, it is of your best interest to show empathy to all health issues and do your part to reduce any stigma around mental health. One of the best actions to take would be to include therapy visits in your insurance plan.

Some individuals are experiencing post-traumatic growth. This is the positive change that negative stress can create. As individuals, we know that we did not have control of this catastrophic event. It is about adapting and overcoming these difficult times and finding new meanings of life.

New Workspaces

Many office workspaces are going to change as we move forward. Some of the new layouts include open areas with a more casual feel that may include couches. An open layout also allows for better social distancing to help workplace health.

Since many will be coming in to work to be a part of meetings, we can expect conference rooms to be a key feature. This may mean that your new office location is solely a conference room with a few offices for storage use and technological infrastructure.

Non-Remote Workers

These individuals are going to feel the biggest impact. There are roughly 60% of workers who simply cannot work from home. Many of them have jobs that rely on offices or the daily commuters that are not commuting any more.

With many places moving to delivery only and offering in-store shoppers, there is no need for some other positions anymore.

Individuals with these jobs are starting to see hours cut or even their jobs disappear completely. It is essential that we provide them alternative ways to invest their skills. They make up such a large part of the workforce that without them, we will not be able to function as a society.

Sources:

How Covid-19-could Impact Workplace Design

Debt Relief Program

The Pandemic is Changing the Workplace for Good