Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many business owners and workers had to change the way they operate in hopes to survive amid the crisis. As businesses are now getting ready -if not already- reopening, new practices, new protocols, and new technology will be introduced to prevent the infection from spreading.
Some of the following trends represent accelerations of already existing shifts, while others are novel impacts that have not been addressed before that can help your businesses operate safely.
Creating time to reflect.
A key difference between crisis response and recovery is making and taking the time to reflect on what's next.
In fact, reflection is perhaps the most important step, as many businesses will start by reflecting on what has worked and what has been learned during the pandemic. It will assist in identifying costly and non-essential operations that can be minimized or eliminated completely to focus on maintaining and building efficient processes. So, take your time to reflect and layout and game plan – these are extraordinary times.
Most likely, your office experience probably won't go back to the way it was before the pandemic until there is a vaccine available. Most businesses would make workers wear masks at all times, advised to redesign and maximize spaces to maintain physical distance, and limit movement in congested areas (e.g. elevators and dining areas). As a result, attitudes towards offices would likely continue to change even after reopening. The transition process might be lengthy, but we’re all in this together and the better we are at doing just that, the sooner we can get back to normal times.
All over the world, businesses are still analyzing and understanding how the virus impacted where and how they work as they navigate through the pandemic. Companies are now facing the reality of coming up with answers to the questions of why workers go to an office, how much, and for how long.
With further advanced technical capabilities such as simple and efficient communications channels, as well as a change of corporate culture that emphasizes trust and productive outcome over physical presence, companies will adapt rapidly to this changing environment.
One thing is for sure, more and more businesses will view working from home as a viable option. However, working from home can be exhausting and rather dull at times. As an employer or a fellow worker you shouldn’t underestimate that other employees might feel isolated and under constant work pressure, alongside the lack of support or human contact with colleagues can eventually result in mental health issues. It would be interesting to see how the employers find the right balance between office and home working, or will they leave the decision up to employees? Time will tell. Find the right balance for you and your business will be challenging yet rewarding for everyone involved.
Incorporating work-life balance:
For many, a home is a place to rest and to spend time with family, and not a place to do their everyday jobs.
Perhaps now and for the foreseeable future, the most prominent trend is also related to the coherence between one's workspace and home. We see workplaces changing to incorporate new components that promote a healthier work-life balance and improve work productivity. Many people find it difficult to find that balance when their workplace and home are the same places. In a post-COVID world, the workplace, whether it’s at home or in the office (or maybe both), needs to have its limits. Limits in working hours and in physical space. Coming at a time where we are facing a global recession, finding the right balance has never been as important as it is right now.
A tech-savvy environment:
The normal physical work environment was replaced by a virtual one that not only increased accessibility but also enabled workplace flexibility.
However, just because more and more technology is being used, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your company will run without an actual HQ.
Offices will introduce new technology aimed at reducing common touchpoints. You can leverage such technology that monitors office usage with sensors, which identifies highly crowded areas. This same sensor could be used to control, track, and evaluate areas that require deep cleaning, where the density is too high, and which workplaces are underutilized and could be reused. Using technology can be hugely beneficial in optimizing the work environment for both productivity and health. Let’s take advantage of it.
Processes automation and digitalizing paper-based operations
Since the start of the pandemic, many manual operations have reduced their dependency on paper-based processes to align with the new virtual work.
But even then, some digitalized documents need human-driven analysis. In such cases, it is advised to implement Artificial Intelligence as part of digital automation for your future processes and bring in human interference only when needed. This could:
- Minimize wasted labor and costs
- Help protect our environment
- Improve work morale by eliminating mundane tasks
Naturally, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The answer to what trend you should apply varies depending on your organization type, talents you have, which roles are important and the collaboration processes, among other factors.
Transitioning through a pandemic (and hopefully out of one sooner rather than later) will always be challenging, especially as we’ve never had anything like it in our lifetimes. As time goes on, more challenges come our way, and we’re tasked again to come up with newer solutions. Share your ideas with us, what trends or changes have you had in your workplace?
Leave a comment below!