COVID-19 upended the way the world does business. Many businesses that focused on in-person sales, such as boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, had to invent new ways to interface with customers. Other businesses had to lead their workforce through quick transitions to remote work. As more Americans are vaccinated and community transmission rates fall, employees are returning to work. However, workers are encountering a changed workplace. Here are five ways the pandemic may have changed the workplace forever.
1. Employers may have to boost paid-leave packages.
The pandemic illuminated the need for paid leave in a way that employees may not have experienced previously. Not only did they encounter their own need for time off to deal with illness, but they also faced school, daycare, and senior center closures that highlighted the need for time off to provide care to loved ones. Congress swooped into action to require many employers to give employees time off if they were sick with COVID-19 or caregiving. However, that congressional mandate ended December 31, 2020.
With this need and precedent set, employees may come to expect this benefit. A Unum survey found that about half of employers will “probably or definitely expand their employer-paid leave offerings within the next 12 months as a result of the pandemic.”
2. Work will continue to be done remotely.
According to the Pew Research Center, around 71% of Americans were working from home during the pandemic. For many employees, the transition to working from home was an easy one. Almost 90% said it was easy to have the technology and equipment they needed, and three-quarters to two-thirds said they were able to meet deadlines, have an appropriate workspace, get work done without interruptions, and feel motivated in a work from home environment. Many companies, including LuckyTamm Digital Marketing, are longtime experts at remote work, and we can attest that working from home can be successful for both the employee and the workplace.
Working from home will likely continue after the pandemic. The Pew report found that 54% of employees would want to continue working from home even after the public-health emergency passes. Employers are also leaning into remote work. A McKinsey study found that 20 to 25% of the workforce could remain working from home without a loss of productivity after the pandemic subsides. That would represent a four to five times increase over the remote work being done prior to the pandemic. With that in mind, the McKinsey study also found that among the 278 companies surveyed, on average, they were planning on reducing office space 30 percent.
Of course, there’s a clear divide between the type of employees who are able to work from home and those who can’t. Frontline workers, including those who work in retail spaces, banks, post offices, public transportation, supply chain suppliers, entertainment venues, travel and hospitality, and some healthcare industries, can only complete their job responsibilities from their physical workplaces.
3. Employees will want flexible schedules.
While employees have been home during the pandemic, their jobs aren’t the only things they’ve been working on. Parents have been called upon to become teachers. Workers have been called upon to be caregivers for all ages of family and friends. And they’ve become accustomed to juggling their work while managing these other responsibilities. According to Forbes, as “more people enjoy flexible routines that provide a better work-life balance, employees will likely seek organizations that provide the option to work remotely.”
4. Company culture will need to thrive outside the workplace.
Twitter announced its employees can now work from home forever, and Facebook is increasingly moving its staff to remote work. It’s clear from trends like these that work-from-anywhere culture is on the rise. While employers may opt to use flexible or co-working spaces for in-person gatherings, it will also be incumbent on them to create or replicate company culture through digital experiences. Just how you do this is unique to each company, but it could involve everything from clearly communicating the company mission during Zoom meetings, to creating virtual happy hours or breakfast sessions where people within or across departments can socialize freely.
5. Employees will have to seek out professional development on their own.
COVID-19 has accelerated the prevalence of low-touch, high-digital experiences across the board. That means different experiences for customers, as well as for employees who will need to enhance their digital skill sets or risk becoming obsolete. Remote work will also mean that job candidates are not only competing with candidates within their own cities, but also across the nation and the globe. With fewer face-to-face mentorship interactions taking place in the office, the ball will be in employees’ courts to make sure their skill sets are on point.
Although the workplace may have changed—and may continue to do so—Lucky Tamm Digital Marketing’s mission remains steadfast in its mission to strengthen businesses and business communication. We see the pandemic as an opportunity for organizations to improve relationships with their employees through paid leave, manage remote work, reaffirm company culture, and encourage professional development. If your organization is finding doing business and communicating in the increasingly digital world a challenge, get in touch for a free consultation. Connect with us, today!