The workplace has changed forever thanks to 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether we like it or not it's changed in ways we could never have imagined. Business and employees have been set up in offices for years with no thought being given to the possibility of that ever changing. However, fast forward to 2021 and working from home is now the new normal. Even as the vaccine rollout begins and offices start to reopen with the rest of the economy, the workplace will never go back to the way it was.
The changes brought about by the virus forced businesses to adapt and through that they found new ways operate, survive and even grow through a global pandemic. Some of these changes are bigger than other's but don't think your workplace is going to be the same as it was pre-COVID. So what changes are here to stay and how will they transform the modern workplace?
- Working from Home
Office managers often get worried about the work force staying home to work. Questions arise about trust and productivity; will your employees actually get any work done if left by themselves at home? Is the quality of work they put out going to meet the high standards set in the office? How are you going to manage a team that's working remotely?
Since the pandemic forced social distancing and working from home, all these questions have been answered. Once employees set up their home office with all the necessary office furniture, the benefits of working from home were discovered. To start with, managers and business owners found that employees working from home where actually more productive at home than in the office. That's tough to get your head around when you're used the office environment and told it's the only place you can work. However, working from home dramatically improved work-life balance and motivated employees to be more productive when working.
Additionally, modern technology and software meant communication, management and collaboration could keep up with the move to remote working. While in the initial stages there may have been a few hiccups, once the workforce adapts to the new environment these issues rectified themselves.
- Offices are downsizing
Following on from point 1, with more and more employees working from home the need for grand office spaces has reduced. While there will always be a general need for an office, they now don't need to be as big. Workers alternating between working from home and in the office means office space is less precious and money can be better spent elsewhere.
With offices downsizing the money saved on office space is likely going to be re-invested back into the employees to help them set up or improve their home office or get better facilities in the current smaller office.
- Cultural Changes
After the pandemic leaves us, there is going to be a shift and focus on workplace culture. With working from home increasing and the increase in work-life balance, workplace culture needs to adapt and change with it. Reduced communication and economic stress caused by the pandemic means employees are more worried than ever and companies needs to think about how their culture can help overcome these worries and help employees feel supported.
- Increased in a Global Workforce
Remote working has opened employment opportunities all over the world. Businesses don't need to look in a specific geographical location to find employees anymore. Now, the essentially have the word as their talent base now. While teams need to communicate and collaborate that don't need to be in the same room to do so with remote collaboration. As the spread of employees increases, business systems need to change and improve with it. If you have a global workforce, cloud systems need to improve and grow with this change.
- A new generation enter the workforce
Gen Z now makes up roughly 25% of the workforce. Gen Z is different to the generations that have come before them. They are more focused on social issues, work-life balance and working for a cause than climbing the cooperate ladder and chasing money. 2021 will see business's rethink the employment process and how they attract talent and more specifically young talent that can grow and develop with the business.
While 2020 was a tough year for many businesses, a lot have pushed through the tough times and have come out better and stronger than before. This resilience has caused dramatic changes to business and how they operate. The workplace for one will never be the same and these changes have all come from the hardships faced thanks to COVID-19. Even though it's been a year full of negatives, looking and embracing these changes will help the workforce bounce back and be better than ever, as some of these changes have been positive out of a dark time.