7 Changes that Covid-19 Brought to the Working Environment

Large-scale shifts are taking place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has potentially reshaped how we will live and work forever. Business leaders who respond effectively to the shifts are likely to stand out from their competitors. Of course, everyone realizes that things will probably never be the same again, but few people are entirely sure how they will be different in the future. Nevertheless, the pandemic has certainly accelerated specific trends. Here are seven changes that Covid-19 brought to the working environment

1. An increase in remote work

During the pandemic, remote work became the norm. According to a recent Gartner poll, nearly half of all employees are likely to work post-pandemic remotely for at least part of the time. The pandemic has brought about an opportunity to re-imagine how to do jobs and run companies. Employers have the chance to get rid of inefficient processes and unnecessary bureaucracy.  

The time has come for businesses to move away from decades of 9-5, office-centric work. The opportunities for digital transformation are wide-ranging, and those that do it well will achieve more flexibility, drive engagement, and empower teams to work effectively across all locations and disciplines.   

Employers are still responsible for administering PCR tests when employees are working remotely. For Orange Country employee Covid testingOpens in a new tab., Concierge MD, Covid Clinics, and CovidCheckToday can administer hundreds of tests a day and offer flexible corporate rates depending upon the company’s size. For example, with Concierge MDLA, if a group consists of less than ten people, it is possible to book at-home or small group visits.

2. A change in employee mindsets

Employees are making new decisionsOpens in a new tab. about where they want to live and the type of flexibility and working conditions they expect. As a result, many of them never want to return to the old way of working. Instead, they would prefer a hybrid remote-office model if they can’t work all the time remotely. 

There are many advantages to remote working, such as not commuting. However, there are also disadvantages. It can extend the workday, challenge work/life boundaries, and reduce mental wellbeing. In addition, some people do not cope well without the in-person social interactions and camaraderie they feel when working in the office.  

Organizations are rethinking working arrangements and are likely to settle on a sustainable new normal. A hybrid workforce and distributed workplace are likely to be one of the best options. If the workplace is distributed across the home, office, and satellite offices, employees can decide when to work remotely or face-to-face, depending on their work and team preferences.    

3. More contingent workers

The economic uncertainty of the pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs. Employees were exposed for the first time to non-standard working models. Post-pandemic many employers want to maintain more flexibility in managing their workforces. Some organizations are replacing full-time workers with contingent workers to save costs. 

By using gig workersOpens in a new tab., employers have more flexibility to cope with ever-changing circumstances. They can use them as and when they need them. They will have to consider how performance management applies to contingent workers and what to do about benefits, etc. 

4. Technology that enables multiple working modes 

Covid-19 forced people to reframe how they communicate and connect. It gave whole populations a crash course in using modern technology. Thousands of small businesses use video technology to stay in contact with their clients. Yoga studios, therapists, and others managed to maintain and even grow their businesses during the pandemic.

Saving data in the cloud and tailoring access and security for different working modes is essential for businesses with varying work models. The applications they use must also allow for seamless virtual collaboration.  

Some employers use technology to track employee productivity. Others monitor employee engagement and wellbeing by collecting data. In the future, employers will need to ensure they follow best practices when collecting employee data and use information and analytics responsibly. 

5. More focus on critical skills

Employers came to realize during the pandemic that to build the type of workforce they need in the future, they need to focus less on roles and more on critical skills. They need skills that can drive workflows if they want a competitive advantage. This realization encourages them to help their employees develop these vital skills instead of preparing them for specific roles. Employers are also giving employees more flexible and varied roles to acquire cross-functional knowledge. 

Employees need to increase access to trainingOpens in a new tab. for vulnerable workers, especially young ones, whose current jobs could become redundant in the future. Moreover, with increased automation of repetitive work due to artificial intelligence, people doing these repetitive functions will need to acquire new skills. Fortunately, a considerable increase in e-learning tools allows employees to use learning opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills at any time and from anywhere. 

6. Employees want more of a say in the workplace.

The pandemic has shown how little influence many employees have in their workplaces. Some companies pushed employees to work for long hours in high-risk conditions with little support during the pandemic. As a result, low-paid essential workers often had a choice between losing their income or putting themselves and their families at risk of contracting the virus. 

The desire for a greater voice in the workplace has manifested in many industries and countries. For example, bus drivers, truck drivers, nurses, and warehouse workers have participated in strikes and walkouts. They want greater unionization and measures that will strengthen workplace democracy and employee representation in the future. 

7. Emergence of a new type of employer

Even before the pandemic, employees were advocating for more transparency from employers. Progressive employers are now communicating more openly about how they will support employees despite introducing cost-saving measures.  

Post-pandemic, the trend is for employers to play more of a role in the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of their employees. As a result, managers will need more emotional intelligence and social skills to manage employees working remotely, encourage and engage them, and identify when they are not coping well mentally. 

Prior to the pandemic, the workplace was still suffering from discrimination, bias, and inequalities. Some companies realize that more inclusive workplaces are necessary to allow diverse talents to thrive. Many companies are also focusing on more financial inclusion and making it easier for workers to build retirement savings. Others are reducing the costs of access to benefits like health insurance. As terrible as it has been for many, the pandemic is proving to be a catalyst that could bring about a better world of work.   

The bottom line

The Covid-19 pandemic drove home key lessons. It brought the fact that many current work models are not sustainable. As a result, businesses explored new ways to work. It remains to be seen how employers and employees will capitalize on opportunities arising from this unprecedented situation. What is clear is it is a chance to build things back better than they were before. Change is needed, and giving employees more control over how and when to work leads to greater satisfaction, more productivity, and less stress. 

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