10 ways the coronavirus pandemic could forever change the way we work
Hello, how are you doing? How are you serving with this pandemic? Today we are going to look at ways the coronavirus pandemic could forever change the way we work.
And amid stay-at-home orders across the country, office workers have ditched their daily commutes to work from dining room tables, couches and beds in their own homes. Many may find themselves in this situation for the long haul, as businesses struggle to find a path forward while restrictions slowly lift.
But what other changes will we see in the coming months and years?
I spoke to futurists, employment experts, CEOs, designers, and more to find out how the pandemic could forever transform the way we work.
Working in an office could become a status symbol.
Following the pandemic, it’s likely that more people will split their time between working from home and from a corporate office, but people will still gather for work, but the amount of time you work in proximity with others, and what your work week looks like — I see that to be the biggest cultural shift moving forward.
With more people working remotely, companies may open regional hubs or provide access to co-working spaces wherever their workers are concentrated rather than have the majority of their workforce at one central office.
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.
Most meetings could be replaced by email and Instant Messaging.
Expect your post-pandemic work calendar to contain fewer meetings overall, the pandemic has been a technological equalizer of sorts, where people previously unaccustomed to using tech tools in the workplace have had no choice but to adapt. And in some cases, workers are becoming more efficient.
People have been more patient in learning new technologies and engaging with them, simply because they’ve had to, I think those best practices will live on. I think we’re all developing new muscles to work virtually.
To that end, expect a generally more agile way of working and communicating with colleagues: More meetings will become emails, and more emails will become instant messages and video meeting.
It could be the end of business travel as we know it
As travel of all kinds is halted, telecommuting is adopted at scale and companies attempt to cut costs and balance their budgets, many experts believe business trips as we know them will be a thing of the past.
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.
Additionally, we expects that during this time, companies will learn that some business travel is unnecessary and can be done via video meetings.
Office buildings could become ‘elaborate conference centers’
With the office building recast as the ultimate status symbol, its main purpose could shift. We predicts office buildings of the future may become facilities to gather, while focused work is done remotely. This could mean fewer walled-off offices and more gathering spaces to host meetings, conferences and other company-wide events.
Open layouts will change, however: 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, such as privacy booths. Capron stops short of saying cubicles will make a comeback.
Agile workspaces with unassigned seating will decline in popularity. Workers will want the security and control of having a personal space they come to every day or every few days and can clean frequently.
Mandatory on-the-job medical screening could become the norm
Health and legal experts predict that on-the-job medical screening, such as temperature checks and antibody tests, will be a reality for those who return to work in the months ahead.
And in many cases it’s already happening: To combat the spread of coronavirus among essential workers, some of the biggest employers in the world, have begun taking the temperatures of their employees before they are allowed to work.
Coworkers could become even closer
If there’s one bright spot to how the pandemic will impact the future of work, it’s that it could strengthen the personal relationships we form with colleagues.
For a long time, we’ve probably taken for granted the ability to see our coworkers every day and maybe didn’t realize how valuable that was, I think teams will be a lot closer when they’re able to move back into the workplace.
Organizational psychologist, predicts that, as coworkers return to the office, they’ll ditch previous messaging habits and actually get up, walk around and visit with each other in person.
Standard 9-to-5 office hours could become a thing of the past
As professionals juggle the demands of work life and home life all in the same place, many employers have relaxed rules about workers starting and ending their days at a set time.
For most office-type work, you can absolutely do your work remotely, and with technology, you can build it around your schedule.
To maintain a sense of structure, employers will have to set expectations for when they need everyone in the office or online for staff meetings and other team activities. Additionally, in order to create a balance between work time and personal time, employees and managers will have to work closely together to ensure that no one is feeling pressured to respond to emails and messages at all hours of the day.
The workplace could become more equitable for women.
With many workplaces now being forced to operate remotely, long-term flexibility could be here to stay, allowing more women to remain in the workforce while balancing home and work life.
This change in workplace structure could have a huge impact on women, as they are more likely than men to adjust their careers for family. In fact, roughly 31% of women who took a career break after having kids said they didn’t want to but had to because of a lack of employer flexibility.
This break, can easily cost women tens of thousands of dollars when lost wages, future wage growth and lost retirement and Social Security contributions are added up.
A more flexible work culture could also create more equity at home as both men and women are able to spend quality time with their families.
Middle management positions could be cut forever.
In the months and years ahead, we could continue to see a hollowing out of middle management.
One of the big things that happened during the 2008 global financial crisis is that organizations pulled out all sorts of layers of middle management, which actually makes it harder to get promoted. It’s possible we may see a similar dynamic post-pandemic situation.
A lot of organizations are going to really need all these layers of middle management that we had in the past.
Others are more optimistic that the demand for top-tier managers will rebound once the pandemic subsides because organizations will want to emphasize productivity.
Automation could be accelerated
While futurists have long warned of “job-stealing robots,” the coronavirus pandemic has heightened fears that automation will replace the jobs of workers. Because of social distancing measures, many organizations — from restaurants to retailers — have been forced to find ways to operate with as few employees physically present as possible. An added bonus: Robots and algorithms can’t get sick.
Adding that out-of-work persons may need to develop new skills in order to find new jobs. What we’re seeing is this significant need for massive up-skilling and retraining, especially for workers who have been laid off.
For years, companies have been working toward automating repetitive jobs through algorithms that can complete administrative tasks, robots that can streamline manufacturing and drones that can deliver goods. And researchers have found that this kind of automation is more quickly adopted during economic downturns.
Companies are going to be going digital much faster, they’re going to be automating much faster. And in that context, are we looking at mass unemployment.
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