Will we ever get back to the working norm?
The spread of Covid-19 has affected individuals and organisations right across the globe. It has forced governments, to work together and plan a way through this deadly disease, to ensure the best outcome for their respective countries.
With more diagnoses of Covid-19 occurring daily in the UK, employers are going to have prepare for how they can look to get back to any sort of normality post-lockdown.
One of the largest contributing factors to the initial spread of the virus was the “daily commute”; individuals going about their normal lives spreading the virus person to person. One of the first points of action was to shut down the economy and get as many members of the population to work from home as possible. For many “white collar” workers this was not an issue, it was simply a matter of unplugging computers and moving them back home. In a post-lockdown world, we must examine just how necessary it is to work from an office. We are currently discovering just how essential that face to face meeting really is.
In the past, some employers have been reluctant to allow their employees to work from home, with distractions, such as family, pets and concerns over productivity often at the forefront. Obviously, this will involve a certain level of trust from employers to their employees to work from home. Employees will need to be more efficient than ever when working from home to keep money coming into the business. Potentially, if employees can be equally, if not more productive, working from home, we could see organisations drop their objection to home working, and adopt entirely new workplace structures. For example, they may only need to retain a core group of employees who are based in the office.
In order for working from home to be considered the new norm, improved technology, and some careful work on the part of employers to change their workplace culture will be required. Also, the important impact of not having face to face meetings with clients old and new will have to be considered. Could this lead to an increased use of video conferencing facilities in order to replicate this person to person interaction? Specifically, in the corporate world, when deals do start emerging again, will face to face negotiation on a business transaction be replaced by a telephone call? From a personal point of view, I would not prefer this as the new norm.
One scenario that businesses must avoid is the prevention of social isolation within the new workplace. How can this be done? Possibly, the organising of team Zoom or Skype calls? However, will this ever really be able to replace the social interaction experienced in the workplace? We as a workplace and society, will have to adapt very quickly.
If Covid-19 is ever finally behind us, the new strategies that have been developed during this unprecedented time, will no doubt have to become part of the new normal.