Effects of Covid-19 at The Workplace

Employers are rethinking what the pandemic means for their companies. While many of us are working from home, others have lost their source of employment. Organisations must think about their current employees to create a safe, transparent and productive environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the world in several ways, and we have somehow managed to get used to it. Before the unthinkable situation, people had immersed themselves in a rat race of urbanisation, over-production and globalisation, which had ultimately contributed to more job-seekers and startups, greater technological advancement and more opportunities. 

Now that the pandemic has confined us and our work to a laptop in a room, employers are rethinking what it means for their companies. While many of us are working from home, others have lost their source of employment. Organisations must think about their current and former employees to create a safe, transparent and productive environment, and here’s how they can take the first step forward:

Becoming a purpose-led organisation

Now that the millennials have realised what it means to live in distress, they will prioritise and set their job expectations on what’s necessary. For example, they will want to work for companies that have meted humane treatment to their current and former employees, maintain sustainable environmental regulations and are committed to inclusion and diversity, even in the C-suite. People now want to make a meaningful difference to our work lives as well, and do not work just for the money anymore.

Now, employees can better adapt to different working styles and situations, which will equip them with the skillsets and tools that they need to learn better. Speaking for current employees, some of them might have upskilled themselves via books, journals, podcasts and online courses and that would contribute to improving things at work too.

Focus more on flexibility and balance

In the pre-COVID times, remote working was considered a privilege that was only expected in a time of emergency. However, companies can now restructure how remote working can be performed and to what extent. Though upskilling is an admirable skill, right now, talent sourcing could become simpler due to restrictions such as travelling long distances, which wouldn’t be an option anymore. For example, people can live on in their home towns and work for companies overseas. A virtual meeting with the team or a scheduled visit to the main headquarters could be enough to garner the talent and salary that both teams need.

As employers cut down on limited employee population at any given time, they can make decisions on the amount of space required and if it brings about collaborative and productive work culture. Some organisations can move from urban centres to suburban campuses to attract more talent — which would reduce capital costs, rent, maintenance and facilities as well.

Emphasize more on mental health

Mental health cases are higher than ever in these pandemic times, as several people have lost their jobs, have elderly or young children to care for with no to little support. Therefore, employers should now encourage employees to focus more on their well-being and self-care over tasks that can be completed a tad later. Unfortunately, many organisations have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to exploit their employees even further. However, team members would neither be happy nor productive working in a stressful environment. Rather, employees would look to join companies that may discourage working after office hours and support them in becoming resistant to stress and having a work-life balance.

Now that the pandemic has forced people to rethink their personal and professional priorities, workplaces will expect more teams to maintain a good work-life balance where they won’t be expected to perform after working hours. People have started to realise the effect of their high-profile careers on their loved ones, and want to pursue other things of their interest as well. They have regained an interest in activities that they would normally reserve for the weekends. Though people are struggling financially, they are learning to realise the ‘reset’ motion that the pandemic has brought into our lives.

Increase opportunities for learning and upskilling

Speaking of digital learning, several employees have resorted to upskilling themselves with brand-new tools, applications and technology. As many companies don’t have the money to professionally train their employees, online learning on e-career and ed-tech platforms have become quite popular. In fact, several of these agencies/companies have seen a rise in registration, as people sign up for machine learning, data science and blockchain technology. Hence, companies too must offer more role-specific and generic courses and training to their employees.

Ensure more humanity and empathy in the workplace

Studies have found that employers have developed closer bonds with their employees virtually than they could at work. Experts say that the younger generation looks for companies that treat them like humans. This doesn’t just make them more appreciated now than in the past but has given them the confidence to contribute better to the company and the society at large.

This new change in empathy must be encouraged and accommodated to ensure a fruitful and friendly work culture.

Accommodate career changes and interdepartmental transfers

Most companies have laid off several of their employees, which gives them an opportunity to upskill themselves in their free time. As mentioned above, several ed-tech companies have released free online professional courses that not just equip the learners with new skills, but help them look for new opportunities as well. Thus, job seekers can apply for different job positions as they have the basic training at hand that could make them a potential candidate.

For companies that can afford not to lay-off employees of a particular team or department, they should now look at enabling those employees to learn new skills so that they can play new roles within the company.

Focus on physical distancing and cubicles

Offices are focused on amicable work culture, productivity and collaboration in all urban centres with open-office layouts and co-working spaces. Now that the promise of a vaccine is unpredictable in the near future, companies should ask employees to wear face masks in the premises, restructure spaces to provide for social distancing and restrain movement in crowded spaces such as pantries and elevators. 

Work from home (WFH) has brought up several questions such as informal lunch break conversations and more physical interaction between employees and interviews. Speaking of WFH, some have enjoyed the extra time with their loved ones and super-charged their productivity. On the other hand, some people have missed out on having conversations with their friends and colleagues, and are affected by it.

Workplaces could be redesigned

Companies have collaborated in prioritising existing processes in terms of remote working such as initial planning, construction and execution. A regular office is a blend of private rooms, meeting rooms, cubicles, pantries and other amenities. Companies would need to check how employees would travel and enter the office area, its sanitisation procedure, the airflow system and the amount of physical distancing maintained. Moreover, they can introduce practices that can get work done while sustaining the company culture. Much can be learnt about these from the safety, health and business continuity practices adopted by BetterPlace.

Digital and remote work would increase for the employers, and very few offices are so designed to contribute to that. Video-conferencing sets physical boundaries to maintain collaboration, learning and productivity yet preserving the company culture. Virtual whiteboards and digital workplaces promote futuristic collaboration and seamless interaction.

Therefore, workplaces and general life after the Covid-19 pandemic is never going to be the same. Though the times are tough, organisations must step up to the situation and provide valuable resources to their teams for efficient performance. Employees would appreciate their company’s stance, which will only motivate them to be better contributors to the common goal.

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