The world as we knew it no longer exists, as terms like social distancing, pandemic, and lockdown have become a part of our daily jargon. Two months ago, not many could pick Dr. Anthony Fauci out of a lineup, and now he’s a household name being played by Brad Pitt on Saturday Night Live.
Our world certainly is different.
And this means the workplace pre-COVID lockdown doesn’t exist anymore. If that’s the case, then what exactly can we expect out of the workplace environment post-COVID lockdown?
So long to the open office concept
What once was all the rage, as recent as only a couple of months ago, the idea of working in a space where you are shoulder-to-shoulder amongst colleagues with no boundaries between you seems impossible, and frankly a little terrifying in the new norm. For companies who sardine-canned employees in an office space, don’t be surprised if a return to the office means an alternating work-from-home schedule for employees situated near each other. If you’re someone who works in a manufacturing plant or large “floor” environment, be prepared for visual reminders about 6-feet social distancing requirements, whether that means a sign hanging on the wall or decals located along the floor.
New work rep/identity
Chances are colleagues, direct reports, and managers have seen a new side of you, as employees around the country have been managing children, pets, household needs, and even anxiety, all while doing their day jobs from home. Remember when you didn’t hit the mute button quick enough to silence your dog’s barking on yesterday’s conference call. Then there was the time your toddler decided to throw a tantrum right in the middle of your presentation during a recent Zoom meeting. Let’s face it, if we’ve tried to keep our personal lives separate from work, the two worlds are colliding with nothing you can do about it. Embrace it and be empathetic to others because most likely, you’ve either already been in their shoes or will be soon.
These are going to become more of a thing. Now that everyone from entry-level employees to C-Suite executives have made these meetings a part of their daily workflow on both a professional and personal level during the Coronavirus lockdown, the convenience of this technology won’t be something easily forgotten as the re-entry phases commence. If the same quality of work can be accomplished with the added bonus of time saved by not having to have everyone in the same location, why wouldn’t companies continue to use the upside of conference call-styled meetings?
Abundance of remote-work opportunities
If HR departments set aside candidates who were only interested in working from home, it’s time to pull those resumes out and review. With the majority of Americans ordered to stay at home, and so many companies encouraging their employees to work from home, the workplace is adjusting to the new norm that is remote working. Whether organizations already had this benefit in place or have been forced to implement this initiative because of the current job market, if a position can be done from home, it will be. Even as workers take a step into the post-COVID lockdown workplace, we can’t ignore that there is a level of importance and security when it comes being in a job that offers the possibility of working remotely if need be.