The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down. For months, cities, and, in some cases, entire countries, were put under a lockdown lest the virus spread like wildfire. This has had a great toll on everyone’s well-being. The same goes for businesses.
Under the pandemic, businesses are tested more than ever. And for those that will survive the current state of things, proactive measures must be put in place to thrive in a post-pandemic business landscape. These measures will inevitably shift office culture in many ways, such as the following.
1. A premium on workplace hygiene
The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of how crucial hygiene is. Even more important, hygiene should not stop at home. We should be just as cautious when it comes to workplace hygiene.
Offices are fertile ground for viruses and bacteria. A virus can spread throughout the majority of a workplace within four hours. And that’s no longer a scenario worth risking.
Here workplace planning comes into play. And post-pandemic, workplace construction and reconstruction could begin borrowing principles from hospitals if only to ensure stricter hygiene protocols.
For instance, offices might favor materials that could withstand heavy cleaning. These include stone or laminates, as opposed to, for instance, wood.
Air filtration systems, such as those that employ ultra-violet light to clean the air, will also factor into this re-imagining of workplace design. Lastly, sinks might begin to show up more. And outside of comfort rooms, too. That is to encourage regular hand washing among employees, which, in itself, does wonder in preventing the spread of viruses.
2. Focus on the output value
In every workplace, there’s that one person who stays behind way after everybody has gone home. Traditionally, this person could be in the running for the next round of promotions. And that could be a problem.
Our mindset about the time an employee spends inside the office ought to be re-calibrated. It does not automatically mean that one who comes to the office earlier and leaves the office later than the rest is the most productive.
Managerial priorities should be refocused on the output value, on making sure that work that’s actually of import gets done. Not the hours clocked in by an employee. At least, this is what we are realizing now that most of us are or have experienced working from home due to the pandemic.
3. Enhanced reliance on technology
The workplace has always relied on technology for enhanced efficiency. This was amplified when workers were sent home to do their jobs remotely amid the pandemic.
Suddenly workplace software is en vogue more than ever. And these tech brands are more than happy to deliver. Think Slack, which welcomed 9,000 new customers. Or Zoom, whose daily meeting participants clocked in at 300 million by the end of April.
Consequently, remote work arrangements have triggered companies to look into surveillance technology. They want to snoop on what their employees are doing within office hours. Some tracking software offering this service include Teramind, Time Doctor, and Aware, among others.
Regardless of the ethics of using employee monitoring software, one thing is for sure: reliance on workplace technology is here to stay. And that goes beyond software.
Imposing hygiene protocols will also require companies to exhaust options in terms of available technology that could help advance the agenda. For example, automatic doors which eliminate the need for contact. Or workplace furniture with surfaces made of materials that are unfriendly to viruses and germs.
4. Relaxed rules on remote work
There are many benefits to be had from working from home. Let’s start with the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly. There’s no need to commute and add to your carbon footprint.
Also, it’s the best way to achieve work-life balance. For working parents, it means getting to spend more time with the family. For the uncommitted, it means more time to discover new hobbies and meet new people. If you urgently need to drive to a waxing salon on a weekday, you can do so as long as you’re done with your deliverables.
Even for employers, there are upsides to letting the workforce work remotely. For one thing, diminished utility bills. These are the same reasons why remote work will increasingly factor in workplace culture, even post-pandemic. So long as the job gets done, it’s irrelevant where it happens.
More than 145 COVID vaccines are under development. Soon, the wait will be over. And we can go back to how things used to be.
But not entirely. In terms of workplace culture, specifically, we’ve discovered new ways of doing things that are worth keeping, and, therefore, are here to stay.