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7 months ago by Debbie Lloyd

5 major workplace changes to expect after COVID-19

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Earlier this month the Government confirmed that the UK’s enforced lockdown period would be extended by a further three weeks.

As it stands, this should take the nation into May, with further proposed lockdown extensions likely; some, such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak and First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab have hinted at extensions possibly lasting until June.

Yet regardless of when the official lockdown regulations are eased, once thing is for certain; life will not simply snap back into our preconceived concept of ‘normal’. This is true both in the personal and professional lives of the UK’s workforce.

Remote working

So if things are going to change, what elements could we see leading the charge into a post-COVID work life? For starters, it seems that, whilst remote working has been slowly dominating flexible working schemes for decades (in fact Merchant Savvy claims that it has seen an increase of 159% since 2005), only now have many leaders, who at one time denounced the concept, been able to see first-hand just how efficient and practical it can be.

The workforce may have turned to remote working out of necessity, but Deloitte has stated that nearly 90% now claim to want to retain their right to work from home at least some of the time.

Digital innovation

And whilst remote working has become a necessity, so have the tools that businesses use to stay connected. These connections aren’t just about basic communication such as email or phone calls; leaders have prioritised the tools that allow them to recreate the immediacy and convenience of being surrounded by colleagues – as such, tools including video conferencing platforms and professional instant messaging software have stepped up to keep communication fluid.

And obviously, this is an extremely profitable industry to be in; Zoom, one of the most successful of these platforms, has seen a 535% rise in users whilst in lockdown, whilst others such as Facebook are working hard to get in on the action by releasing their own video conferencing tools. It’s therefore highly likely that far more investment will be ploughed into bridging the gap between remote working and efficient connectivity in the coming months and years.

Results-driven workforce 

Presenteeism has been a central issue in the workplace for decades. Bosses may have traditionally held the view that employees are only productive when being closely observed, yet this has never been the case. Coronavirus has, amongst its innumerable devastating effects, at least allowed bosses to see first-hand that actually, the vast majority of workers are motivated, and will succeed even when no one is staring down their necks.

It’s possible, therefore, that no longer will success in this area be based on the hours spent behind the desk, but instead simply on the results. After all, if the end result is a positive one, who really cares about how the employee got there?

Greater work-life balance

The shift in work behaviour to combat the spread of COVID-19 has, for many, been a revelatory experience. Unlike any other time in history, nearly all workers have been able to be present to spend more time with their immediate family (providing that they’re isolated together) and have therefore seen just how positive a greater work-life balance can be. Parents who have consistently missed their children’s bedtimes or have been able to spend the hours once wasted on commuting connecting with their loved ones aren’t likely to want to go back to the week being solely about work.

So will we see bosses yield to the concept of a greater work-life balance? Only time will tell.

Increased empathy

No one is making it through this global pandemic unscathed. It’s likely that you or someone you know has been affected by coronavirus in a negative way and there are, of course, negative mental and physical ramifications from this. Unlike any other point in recent history, wellbeing is a key issue that all leaders are thinking about. The mental toll of the situation, the physical toll of illness and the financial toll of potentially reduced hours, lower profits and possible redundancies are all powerful. The conversations have been open and valuable so far.

But why must we only focus on wellbeing in such a way when disaster strikes? People feel these weights in all walks of life, so perhaps the increase in empathy that has arrived alongside coronavirus should be consciously cultivated and retained.

Source: Executive Grapevine