Amid new regimens of donning face masks, incessant hand washing, and physical distancing, it’s often hard to imagine life will ever return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. In addition to the grave toll it’s taken on us as human beings, its effects will linger in the workplace long after the term ‘coronavirus’ has faded from the news.
The Washington Post likens this to the lasting changes we’ve seen from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While most people don’t board a plane with the simmering fear they felt just after the attacks, we’re still subject to new procedures and policy spurred by the attack. After facing down a crisis Forbes describes as global, enduring, disruptive, and all-consuming, it is unthinkable that our society or our workplaces will be left unchanged.
Here are 5 ways we expect the workplace to change post COVID-19
- More flexibility. When businesses that could were forced to transition to remote working, companies quickly developed ways not only to work from home but to stay connected. And many of the old arguments against flexibility and work from home days – like poor productivity, disconnectedness, or insufficient tools, have been disproven by the situation today.
For employees, increased flexibility on where you work can ease the personal vs. professional tension many employees juggle and cut down on stressors like commuting. For businesses, a more flexible workforce might mean a significantly smaller real estate bill, because it affords the opportunity to eliminate traditional corporate offices, or at least minimize them, or introduce a coworking space with lower costs and better flexibility. And, it might also mean better retention. Even before social distancing was top of mind, 54% of employees in a Gallup poll said they would leave their current job for one that offered flexible work.
- Going to the office – reimagined. A more flexible and remote workforce brings a whole new meaning to “going to the office.” Instead of heading in for the daily grind, employees will come to the office for interaction, community, collaboration, networking, and training. Office spaces will need to be equipped to facilitate that – and many traditional offices have more cubical space than connection space.
- A more casual environment. Right now, we’re peering into each other’s living spaces via video call and making jokes about our half-suits, à la, John Krasinski’s Some Good News, and it’s safe to say things are pretty casual. But with the exception of a few traditional industries like finance or fashion, general policies are evolving to “dress for your day” at most. Along with a more casual dress code comes a general more casual office environment, including in the surroundings themselves.
- A love of video. Although the Zoom happy hours may have abated, the video conference capabilities we enjoy today have been, as Forbes says, what made “the grand WFH experiment possible.” With 82% of Americans changing their travel plans for the next six months at least, according to a recent survey, businesses will be leaning on video conferencing technology to stay close to customers and employees, and offices must be equipped to facilitate that well.
- Emphasis on health practices. Now that we’re aware of how rapidly a concerning disease can spread, it’s likely distanced desk spaces, heightened cleaning procedures, and a need for air circulation are here to stay – at least to some degree. Office spaces that can promote health, with access to outdoor space, are more likely to improve health and business outcomes, research says.
Is your business ready to accommodate the new normal?
Whether you’re an established enterprise or a fledgling business, you need to propel your organization into the new normal when the coronavirus pandemic subsides, and getting your office space right is a great first step. Whether employees are bemoaning a return to the office or eager to ditch the kitchen table desk, HEXA’s stimulating environment, ample conference room space, and emphasis on the whole person through an array of amenities can help your staff thrive during yet another transition. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour and see for yourself how your business can thrive in your new normal at HEXA.