The past year has been tough on many businesses. If they’ve learned anything it is the importance of staying flexible. The COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for organizations to move their operations offsite for fears of spreading the virus. With several different pharmaceutical companies now testing and pushing out vaccines for the virus, it seems that offices and other places of businesses will be opening back up, right?
Not so fast.
Obviously, a lot of business owners didn’t trust in work-from-home policies leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, and many tried to last as long as they could with business-as-usual until state lawmakers started placing stay-at-home mandates on their constituents. With vaccines being pushed out quickly, there is a good chance that many of these business owners that were forced into remote solutions view the past 10 months as an aberration. Some won’t, however. We thought we’d take a look at the impact a return to “normalcy” will have on businesses.
Health and the Modern Workplace
With millions of people contracting COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands of people dying from the disease, the pandemic is still a very serious situation. It actually remains to be seen if the vaccines that are being pushed out will have the intended effect before lawmakers and business owners can demand a return to normal procedure. Even after this monumental day, it is definitely going to change the way people view their health inside the office.
Each year, most businesses have to deal with “cold-and-flu season”. That always gets kind of tricky with people missing work resulting in productivity plateauing. After a return to work many people just aren’t going to feel physically and psychologically safe being under the same roof as people, especially with the differences of opinion in vaccinations out there. What are people supposed to do when they work directly with people that refuse to be vaccinated? It’s a situation that most businesses have to deal with every year. Forrester Research found that 66 percent of American workers want to feel safe before being forced back into the workplace…
…but they do plan to come back.
About half of polled workers that currently work remotely as a result of the pandemic actively want to go back to their office and plan to do so when it is safe. The other half may take some convincing. One positive is that the less people working in an office, the more space that is available for “social distancing”, but it is going to be a real issue for some employers who don’t trust remote workers to work as productively and securely as they would at the office. They will either need to replace workers that aren’t willing to come back to the workplace—which will likely have an effect on their unemployment insurance outlay—or they will have to concede that productivity is high enough to continue supporting workers that don’t, for one reason or another, want to get back into their workplace.
Technology Will Be More Important Than Ever
Many businesses had to take a sharp detour from their operational strategies when their workers started working from home, and as a result, it’s likely that the strategies that have been implemented in the interim won’t be absolutely abandoned. There will probably be some additional flexibility for workers that have made it through these times and working remotely is just one of them.
Meetings may continue to be through a video conferencing app like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, or Discord. You could see the continued integration of technology designed to keep people from physically sharing the same space for a while after the pandemic ends. The collaboration tools are sure to stick around as many have become core pieces of businesses’ operational strategies.
Businesses Will Innovate to Build Safe and Efficient Workplaces
Businesses aren’t just going to suddenly ignore the lessons learned during this period when the “all-clear” is given. They will be incorporated into business strategy to give themselves the best chance for success. You will begin to see strategies that are more innovative and press the issue a little more. You will begin to see smart technology deployed in places where there was thought to be too much risk. You will see software that promotes efficiency and collaboration to be the norm in most businesses. You will see businesses being more cognizant of employee health than ever before by implementing new programs that promote flexibility to ensure that their workers (and their worker’s families) are prioritizing health. One thing you are sure to see is more availability for people to work outside the office when they are sick or when they need to look after health-related situations. If there is one thing that people have learned during this period, it is that it’s hard to be productive when you are scared for your health.
What do you think the new normal will look like when the pandemic finally ends? Do you think that things will go back to the way they were before or do you think that business owners and managers will promote new strategies that give workers more flexibility? Leave your thoughts in the comments section and return to our blog regularly for more great technology content.