How COVID-19 Will Impact the Future of Work
There’s no denying that COVID-19 has changed the way we work. But in a post-COVID future, will we go back to the way things were before the pandemic, or are some of these changes here to stay? In this article, we’ll take a look at some COVID-inspired changes that experts believe may hang around for the long run.
More Video Calls and Fewer In-Person Meetings
Social distancing has become one of the top buzzwords on the planet in today’s COVID-19 world. However, when it comes to the working world, the concept may be here to stay. One example has been the proliferation of video conferencing during the pandemic, something that Zack Friedman of Forbes sees as here to stay; “What will happen to all those standing-room-only, in-person meetings in conference rooms? Video conference calls have become more popular than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. This could continue even after a Coronavirus vaccine. If you work in any sales-oriented job, in-person contact may be essential to your business. However, from a public health perspective, frequent business travel may be replaced by more video conference calls. It may not happen in every industry, but companies will want to protect employees and clients alike in a post-COVID world. This doesn’t mean business travel is going away (it’s not), but companies may limit travel. This has direct implications for the airline and hospitality industries, at least in the short-term.”
Standard 9-5 Hours Could Become A Thing of the Past
As the majority of the workforce has transitioned to a remote set-up, many have found themselves working non-traditional hours as they attempt to mold their work hours around their responsibilities at home. In the post-COVID future, many believe that the traditional 9-5 may become a thing of the past.
Courtney Connley of CNBC recently interviewed career coach Julie Kratz for her thoughts on the topic. “I think you’ll see a new norm around trust and respect” in the ways employers manage their staff moving forward, says career coach Julie Kratz. With many employees successfully working from home now, it will be a lot harder for employers to deny flexibility around work hours and work settings, she explains.
“For most office-type work, you can absolutely do your work remotely, and with technology, you can build it around your schedule,” adds Kratz, who says that many of her clients at tech companies such as Salesforce were already working flexible hours before the Covid-19 outbreak.
To maintain a sense of structure, Kratz says employers will have to set expectations for when they need everyone in the office or online for staff meetings and other team activities. Additionally, she says, 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.
“By all means, it’s not about throwing out all the rules,” she emphasizes, “but it’s about letting people co-create them.”
Companies Will Seek to Provide New, Emotionally Supportive Benefits to Employees
There’s no arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many employee’s emotional and mental health. Transferring from everyday contact and interaction to near complete isolation is not an easy thing to cope with. As a result, Alex Tsepko of Fast Company foresees companies addressing that issue with an increased focus on emotional support. “Feeling isolated is one of the biggest challenges of working remotely,” says Tsepko. “In the past, this issue wasn’t really addressed for companies that allowed employees to work remotely, either part of the time or all the time. Most likely, it’s because not enough people (decision-makers, especially) had ever experienced being on the other side of the fence, feeling that same isolation themselves and wanting to solve for it.
Now that we’ve all experienced working from home, and we’ve all felt feelings of isolation, distance, a reliance on video calls for social interaction, etc., more and more decision-makers now seem in favor of solving this problem. This is going to spark companies to come up with unique, innovative ways of engaging their distributed workforce, ensuring that no employee feels detached from the rest of the team.”