What’s Next for Back to Normal? Work After COVID-19

Time to read: 4 minutes

Work After COVID-19 Summary:

  • The discussion around taking work back into the office is happening. However, the way we use to work will look significantly different from the ever-so-trendy open workspace changing to a more closed off setup.
  • Networking and business travel will resume, eventually, but will be closely assessed and monitored.
  • Companies are still trying to generate leads and continue with business as usual while also working to be a compassionate partner and resource to their customers.

A moment of silence for the workforce as we knew it.

Overall, the economy took a drastic hit when the coronavirus came ashore to the U.S. However, some companies continued business, as usual, only to furlough and lay off employees later into quarantine. With COVID-19 still very much a prevalent part of life, despite re-opening plans, much of America’s workforce can’t help but ask, “what’s next?” Slowly but surely, society is opening back up – or at least has plans set on how to do so. It is now up to each individual state to make the call on when and how individual economies will re-open. Some states and cities have been hit harder than others; re-opening is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Check out this state-by-state breakdown of reopening status and protocols.

What the work after COVID-19 is certainly in question. In this article, hypotheses and thoughts are explored, from office setups to employee relations to business travel and everything in between.

In-Office Work After COVID-19

Many larger and more public companies have extended remote work through the summer with some extending into the fall. However, it is still a question of what office work will look like in the future. Office structure is being re-evaluated as states begin to think about lifting stay-at-home orders.  Offices pre-COVID-19 saw open floor plans, co-working spaces, and communal meals. The office as we know may look drastically different from when we left it. Smaller companies with smaller office headcount will not have to change much in the office, but what might be the bigger change for those in smaller offices is moving to permanent remote work.

Employers, especially in larger companies with a larger headcount, could start to take precautions into their own hands and begin monitoring employee activity as well as health to avoid spread, hypothesized by Bloomberg. Employers could go as far as having employees do frequent temperature checks. As for office layout and structure, just as grocery stores and pharmacies have implemented, office design could see plexiglass installations to heighten cubicles for further protections between each employee. Large office buildings with multiple companies within will take their own precautions, supervising communal areas, such as lobbies and elevators. Think elevator traffic jams after sitting in traffic.

Coffee breaks, watercooler chats, and breakroom meetings will be limited; less invitations for communal gatherings in the office. Meetings and collaboration will continue, and are more effective in person, but will be monitored by employers with employee headcount taken into consideration.

Employers will have the following power when it comes to employee health and COVID-19:

  • Send employees home should they show symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • Medical information (confidentially) on employees’ conditions if they are experiencing serious symptoms.
  • Ask employees questions around non-business travel upon return to understand potential exposure.

Read more on hiring regulations as it pertains to COVID-19.

The next three to six months will be telling on how the states, companies, and businesses alike move forward. With COVID-19 still reeling, the thoughts above, and so many already getting a taste of work-from-home, who is heading into the office?

Commuting to the Office post COVID-19

Lastly, while the logistics of the office post-COVID-19 are top of mind, the cart is clearly being put before the horse here. The commute to work takes up the better part of the day in normal circumstances. According to CityLab, 76% of Americans drive to work, but the amount of drivers varies from region to region. For example, while three-quarters of Americans drive to work, half of the New York City population commutes via public transit. What will the public transit commute entail?

Business Conferences and Travel

Non-essential travel was grounded. Business conferences went virtual. In the case of networking events and industry conferences, the workforce could still see networking at distance through virtual meetups and conferences.

Speaking of conferences, business travel will diminish significantly. Business (and leisure) travel will reconvene, but the differences will certainly be felt. According to TravelPerk, the earliest companies and employees can start to consider business travel is September. With that, options for hotels and airlines could lessen as companies try to recuperate from the past two and a half months. Companies, especially early on, will be mindful of location and send folks on business trips in proximity to companies to avoid air travel as well as pay much closer attention to assess the risks of sending employees on trips. This includes:

  • Create guidelines for proposing trips.
  • Canceling trips that pose a risk.
  • Tracking travel credits and refunds for future use.

As travel restrictions loosen, keep in touch with the country and international travel guidelines.

Communications and Doing Business

COVID-19 has laid a layer of uncertainty upon the workforce. For businesses still humming, how do they conduct business? What do marketing and sales strategies look like?

When the coronavirus first came into play of the workforce, we explored the idea of CIOs and CMOs investing in digital with 67% of respondents of Profiles COVID-19 Survey shared they were increasing resources and investment in digital back in March. Along with an increase in interest around investing in digital, responders reported no change to their department’s budget. Consumers are moving toward more cautious spending despite. However, businesses are still interested in technology and innovation (with the goal to lower costs). Companies are left rolling the dice on how to communicate with their audiences during this uncertain time. What companies and partners can do for their audiences and customers is to continue to help solve their customers’ problems.

Profiles COVID-19 Updates

Profiles continues to monitor the current business and economic climate. Stay updated through our Coronavirus Updates as we continue to content on hiring, job searches, working remotely, and other suitable content.

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