Covid-19 upended our lives and our business. As a business owner, you must have felt how this pandemic has changed the way you approach work and do business. The pandemic is having a significant impact on how we collaborate, where we work and the employer-employee relationship with respect to remote job performance. We’ve tried to adapt, but what about the long term? How has work changed during the global pandemic, and what will it look like in the future?
You could be closer with your employees
“People are doing virtual home tours, people’s kids are popping into webcam conversations — we’re all the BBC dad now,” says organisational psychologist, Wharton professor and “Originals” author Adam Grant.
Indeed, even those embarrassing moments with technology can help humanize colleagues and bring them closer together. Because of that, people may relax the boundaries they normally create around their home and their work lives, Grant adds, “and they can have really great connections with colleagues.”
When coworkers trust each other, they’re more vocal, contribute more ideas, work collaboratively and can reach better solutions. The coronavirus challenge demands an organisation-wide, honest conversation that enables truth to speak to power about the corporate response to the challenge, says Michael Beer, the Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration.
Standard 9-to-5 office hours could become a thing of the past
With the world’s largest working-from-home experiment underway, we’re already seeing how remote team structures are being challenged and forcing companies to become more agile. According to McKinsey, 80% of people enjoy working-from-home. In addition, 41% feel more productive than before, and 28% are as productive.
“I think you’ll see a new norm around trust and respect” in the ways employers manage their staff moving forward, says career coach Julie Kratz. With many employees successfully working from home now, it will be a lot harder for business owners to deny flexibility around work hours and work settings.
Working remotely is very effective if you can also restructure the organisational processes for how communication happens, how socialisation happens, and how coordination happens, says Prithwiraj Choudhury, the Lumry Family Associate Professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit.
Business Travel Will Never Return
We can expect fewer “must do” business trips in the future, since videoconferencing is becoming more of an accepted alternative to many meetings that would have been done in person.
Changing consumer preferences and greater interest in social distancing will limit large group events such as conferences and conventions for the foreseeable future, and permanently decrease the volume of business travel, says Jeff, a travel industry expert.
Additionally, Leff expects that during this time, companies will learn that some business travel is unnecessary and can be done via video meetings. He also points out as organisations attempt to recoup their pandemic-related losses, travel budgets will be cut.
The Role of The Office Will Change
According to Forbes, with more employees working in remote locations, organisations will need to reevaluate their real estate portfolios. They will likely have a combination of owned office space for in-person collaboration or major team-building events, but with more dispersed workers, on-demand and flexible coworking spaces will be a cost-effective option.
As a result, corporate headquarters may become a status symbol for the companies that still have the budget and a workforce big enough to warrant pricey real estate in a major city. A company’s investment in its headquarters could become a way to recruit talent, says Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit campaign about unemployment
With the office building recast as the ultimate status symbol, its main purpose could shift. This could mean fewer walled-off offices and more gathering spaces to host meetings, conferences and other company-wide events. Desks could become spaced out, partitions could go up, cleaning stations stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes will become the norm, and workers may seek out spaces for focused work.
The pandemic has forced the adoption of new ways of working. As a business owner, you can reimagine the work and the role of offices in creating safe, productive, and enjoyable jobs and lives for employees.