It is beyond questionable that COVID19 will change the way we work. As the world progresses through stages of lockdown with schools, restaurants, theaters and workplaces closed, the reality of remote working is becoming notable. With many parents working their jobs remotely whilst home schooling children, ‘normal’ life has undoubtedly changed. The upsetting reality of COVID-19 is that many will have lost their jobs due to industries not being able to carry on. However, there is hope that the economy will bounce back from this.
The timescale of when ‘business as usual’ returns is unknown. This is one of the scariest aspects about COVID-19 for some businesses. Even though the situation is heart-breaking, finding some positives from this global cry can bring brightness into everyone’s days. As employees, accepting the unsettling issues the outbreak has brought is difficult, but moving forward and adapting the way of work is the future ahead.
One of the positives of working at home for businesses is the understanding that the majority of tasks can be done remotely. Technology, in our society, has the ability to connect each employee whatever their destination is on the globe, meaning most meetings and conversations needed with your team or the person you would sit next to, can still happen. Even in these unprecedented circumstances, office based businesses can still power through, just with a little adaptation.
Video calls are becoming the most popular way to connect, software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are experiencing a higher usage than ever before. The video call meeting does have positives for the working relationship. To give an example, when video calling a fellow colleague whilst they are working from their makeshift desk, employees have the chance to get to know each other a little better. They have the chance to realize where their friends spend time out of the office. In most situations on a video call, a family member or housemate will walk into the background and say hello, something that would never happen at work. This new form of professional communication gives employees the chance to develop stronger relationships, a positive take away from this global pandemic.
So what does this mean for the old fashion office culture? The standard nine to five shifts, a structured day that some love about the office life and sitting next to each other at a desk. As Forbesreports RBC will be adopting a more flexible working schedule “After the past seven weeks, it’s become even more clear that not every employee has to be in the office every single day”. This will mean a staggered shift approach, giving employees the chance to work in an environment where social distancing can be achieved. It will be officially goodbye to the 9 to 5 days. Current employees may have to adapt to a new way of working, but change can only be positive right?
One aspect of office culture that will definitely be disappearing is the revolutionary idea of hot desking. As the Independentreports, “An end to hot-desking, continued home working, and one-way systems” are some of the ways offices will be able to return to work. It is evident that the system of hot desking, the act of sitting where is available and where is most convenient for your team, is a recipe for spreading the virus. When introduced in a corporate office it was meant to help employees be adaptive to change and implant flexibility within teams. The idea stems around having a whole team working together towards common goals meaning they do not worry about what desk they are sitting at. Some employees loved it and some preferred the structure of being able to sit with those with the best knowledge around them all the time. Either way, hot desking will definitely be off the cards for the foreseeable future until the world has recovered from COVID-19.
As changes become overwhelming for some employees, it will be essential that businesses can offer mental health support to comfort those who need it. This global pandemic has meant a loss of many citizen’s lives, the inability to connect with others and a sense of loneliness for people living alone. As Forbes reports RBC have “added mental health support resources for employees and their family members; and back-up child and elder care for our people in recognition of the demands they have outside of work”. Offering support with child care whilst children are not able to attend schools can help employees feel less overwhelmed by the change.
As the exit of lockdown strategy is announced in countries across the world, the return to the standard office culture is not one that will be returning as soon as other aspects of life. Even though this will be a disruptive change to the working life, businesses can take this opportunity to learn from this global pandemic and have hope that a fairly normal office culture can return in the future.