The workplace is always changing, but some events supercharge its transformation. For instance, WWII forced employers to hire women for jobs previously closed to them. And the COVID-19 pandemic turned remote work into the norm rather than the exception.
The workplace will never return to the way it looked and operated in 2019. Many of the changes made during the pandemic will improve not only the lives of employees but also the bottom lines of companies. The post-COVID-19 workplace promises to be a more agile and understanding environment.
Permanence of Remote Work
The popularity of remote work was on the rise even before the pandemic. But when COVID-19 made working from the office unsafe, companies allowed employees to work from home in droves. Both workplaces and workers responded well to the change, which brought with it many benefits.
The pandemic created childcare challenges, which remote workers could better navigate. They saved money and time on their daily commute and learned that remote meetings, while sometimes awkward, saved time without sacrificing results.
Companies realized they could downsize office space without sacrificing productivity, which lowered their overhead expenses. In fact, some employers noted an increase in productivity when employees worked from home. Research shows that over 90% of employees expect to continue working from home, at least one day a week, after COVID-19 concerns abate.
Of course many businesses, such as manufacturing operations, require on-site employees, but they too have office staff that can work remotely, at least part of the time. Remote work produces results, so it’s here to stay.
Physical Workplace Changes
Businesses are changing the space in the workplace to make it safer and to reflect the number of employees working from home. Sadly, COVID-19 will likely not be the only new virus to emerge in the coming years. Companies must prepare for health challenges by improving air filtration, disinfecting stations, and implementing workplace distancing. Wearing masks may become part of the permanent office culture — to battle surges in the yearly flu variations, for instance.
Although the increased distance between employees may need to remain, the business may actually use less space by staggering shifts or allowing a mix of home-based and office-based work. Businesses have more options than ever before to customize their workspace and employee schedules since they know they don’t have to run a traditional workplace to get results.
Flexible HR Processes
This changing operation philosophy extends to HR. For instance, the worker pool no longer needs to be limited by geographical area. It’s possible for your business to recruit the best candidates from all over the country or even the world. Also, some routines that were previously carved in stone may no longer fit. You could begin paying employees on differing schedules to better meet their needs. And you can put less emphasis on hours worked and more of it on results.
HR departments can improve office culture by remaining flexible and accessible. Some are striving to create one point of contact for complaints and concerns instead of three or four, which happens when issues are kicked up the ladder. Streamlined HR practices will be key in the coming years.
Focus on Empathy
COVID-19 caused tragedy after tragedy for employees. They have paid a heavy price over the last 18 months, with many losing loved ones or facing their own long recovery. Many are emotionally and physically diminished. Businesses wishing to strengthen morale and improve employee engagement and retention will take an empathetic approach to their workers.
First, employees need to feel safe on-site, not just for the remaining COVID-19 threat but also for any other challenge that may emerge. Transparency is important, so if your company made mistakes during the pandemic, own them and let workers know how you will improve.
In the future, expect the emphasis on family needs to remain. Consider friendlier policies for employees who need to take care of their elderly parents or sick partners, and realize that the mental health of your workforce should be a priority.
Implementation of Advanced Technology
Companies learned to rely on new and emerging technology during the pandemic to make remote work effective. You may have invested in software programs that allowed secure access to vital information so teams could work together online. And most companies jumped to install online conferencing software that was reliable and easy to use.
For the future, the enhanced use of cloud computing is a necessity. You can add or eliminate services as needed and provide your employees secure access from wherever they are working. You can also give your employees remote VPN access so they won’t pop onto an open Wi-Fi network and potentially expose sensitive information.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the latest business apps that help with project, inventory, and product management. You should have already overhauled your technology approach to meet the needs of a post-pandemic world. If you have not, then you cannot afford to waste any more time.
How Dover Staffing Can Help
No business can thrive while maintaining pre-pandemic practices. Your company must adapt and plan for a different world. And you need talented and flexible employees to make your post-COVID-19 strategy work. Dover Staffing has decades of experience in meeting current workforce needs and planning for tomorrow. For more information on how we can help your business, contact us now by filling out a brief online form or calling 770-434-3040.