When COVID hit early last year, it’s fair to say we weren’t prepared. Businesses everywhere had to change how they operated. Conference rooms were replaced with Zoom meetings. In-office communication changed to instant messaging software like Microsoft Teams. Working moms became working moms, stay-at-home moms and homeschooling moms all at once. Something a lot of people liked was that every day became casual Friday. But have all of these changes been positive? Have they brought teams closer or driven them apart?
Things Have Changed: Some Key Elements of an Employee’s Daily Life That Have Changed
Working from home is definitely a privilege, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its own set of struggles. If your home doesn’t have space for a home office, you’re probably working on a couch or in the dining room – not exactly quiet, solitary places to focus. If you’ve got kids, you’re probably juggling online schooling or changing diapers between meetings. And there’s always the cat or dog occasionally showing up onscreen during a Zoom meeting.
But on the other side of things, you don’t have to dress up. You don’t have to drive in traffic to get to and from the office. You get to be in your own space while working. It isn’t all bad.
Are These Changes to Workplace Settings and Dynamics Positive?
Something that actually has been positive are the rogue pets and toddlers that interrupt the occasional meeting. Even though remote, it brings employees closer because it makes their everyday private lives visible to their officemates. Another positive change is that people’s appearance and charisma have become almost invisible, so an employee’s work ethic and competence can be the sole focus of management.
But not all of it has been great. 71% of employers report struggling to make the necessary changes to switch to remote work. 65% also felt that it is becoming increasingly hard to keep employee morale up. When you consider that 83% of employers have had to change their practices to accommodate COVID restrictions, those are some pretty big numbers.
Implications for the Future of Offices All Over Corporate America
This pandemic was a wake-up call for our corporate, government and small business sectors alike. And it’s not going to be the only huge global pandemic; it’s just the first. So what changes do we think will become permanent?
- Office spaces and conference rooms will take up a lot more space to accommodate social distancing on a more permanent level.
- Companies will be more flexible with how and where work is done.
- Some companies, those who have found that doing work remotely wasn’t a difficult change at all, may never go back to the office.
- More people will keep office spaces in their home that are less personal and more fit for public viewing.