Those “old’ workplace models – you know, the ones from before 2020 – are basically passe. No matter how well thought out, they’ve been turned on their head. For one thing, scores of employees are working remotely. That alone has been a dramatic shift that continues to affect the employee experience as well as recruitment and retention. And while the situation is dynamic and continues to evolve, many of these changes appear inveterate, even as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, and employers are mulling calling workers back to the office.
But how is that going to work? Read on for more about adapting to the post-pandemic workplace.
Seemingly overnight, remote work became the norm. And that’s been a cataclysmic change, for organizations as well as employees. And now that the proverbial dust seems to be settling, employers are faced with questions: What’s the vision for a return to office? Now that many workers have become used to working from home and enjoy it, how do you manage that preference? What are the effects of a scattered workforce? What kind of culture can grow from virtual or semi-virtual environments?
What About a Combination?
In some instances, depending on the field, workforce size, etc., you can have a situation where only some employees work remotely. After all, a Slack study found that 72 percent of knowledge employees prefer a combination of office and remote work.
With this approach, though, how would meetings look? Would they be effective, or awkward and unproductive? How would they affect team members who are on opposite platforms?
Do You Know Your People?
Finding one way that suits everyone is nearly impossible. So perhaps the best approach is to look for ways to group your employees according to commonalities and crafting programs and processes aimed at meeting their specific needs.
Should You Hang on to Your Office?
As we say, the workforce situation the pandemic has wrought is still unfolding. So maybe you don’t want to unload your brick and mortar – yet. And besides, you likely do have employees who, for whatever reason, chose you or their residence based on the assumption that they’d go into work. If you’ve gone through an HR digital transformation, or plan to, such digitization will help.
What About the Workplace Culture?
Yes, that’s a biggie. Working remotely doesn’t exactly promote feelings of belonging. That is, unless your organization is global and many of your workers are inured to a virtual environment. Otherwise, using Zoom to celebrate an employee milestone, say, is, well, different. Before, for many employees, their colleagues were more like family than just people with whom you exchange work messages or see during virtual meetings.
So, this is a tough situation, but it calls for you to reshape the workplace to fit this new environment. Perhaps you can have combined live and taped presentations and celebrations, or more phone calls. Remember the latter? Perhaps such personal touches would be a welcome change.
So, adapting to the post-pandemic workplace is more than a notion. Employers must basically feel their way forward as the situation continues to evolve. That’s why built-in agility is so important, by the way: as the pandemic has revealed, the business environment can suddenly shift. So, you must be ready to change course.
But that doesn’t mean waiting for the next shoe to drop before acting. To the contrary. You must deal with today’s situation, with an eye toward the future. And if you need help putting things in place, we’ve found that the consultant Mercer is more than up to the task.