For many people, the past year was anything but ideal. From remote work and staying indoors to being away from loved ones, 2020 was a year that changed our narrative in many aspects, including our relationship with work. The experience of working from home, communicating with coworkers over the internet, and having Zoom meetings was, in some ways, a disaster. In others, it seems that it worked just fine.
Regardless of your experience with remote working, as businesses reopen around the world, many employees are wondering which changes they might face once they go back to the office.
Here are 6 changes that you can expect when (in case you do) you return to the office.
1. More Flexibility and Remote Work
One of the changes from before Covid will be having more remote work opportunities and flexibility. According to David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester, “the hardest part about working remotely for most people was getting used to not having face-to-face contact and having to relate to people through technology like Zoom and Teams. Once they found their feet, now it’s muscle memory.”
According to experts, while some companies are staying fully remote, they agree that most companies will be going back to the office but will be more open about telecommuting and flexible schedules.
An important aspect to notice is the change in perception about remote workers. To some extend, remote working has been around for quite some time. However, it didn’t always have a positive connotation as those employees with a more flexible schedule were sometimes perceived as lazier than those working full time from the office.
However, employers will need to make sure that remote employees feel engaged and supported as in-person employees.
There is no doubt that employees are more stressed than ever, and companies must look for ways to minimize that stress. Some experts are expecting companies to offer what they call “modern perks.”
Those “modern perks” can mean anything that makes the life of your employees easier. Some examples could be cleaning services, grocery deliveries, utility reimbursements, subsidized childcare, and so on.
3. Fewer Meetings
When the pandemic started, many people thought that it meant having fewer meetings. However, they soon found themselves going from one Zoom meeting to another. As a result, the Zoom fatigue arrived. People became more aware of how psychologically draining meetings are.
According to Johnson, “there will be more awareness of the cost of meetings, and recognizing that people are going to burn out if they’re just on calls every day, all day.” Moreover, having more people working in person might facilitate conversations face to face, probably resulting in fewer unnecessary meetings.
4. Casual Dress Code
While you might not show up wearing lounge clothes to the office, it is expected that employers will be more relax when it comes to dressing codes. The truth is that before Covid, companies were moving towards a more casual dress code, but being in a pandemic probably made it happen faster.
5. Less Work Travel
One of the most significant impacts of Covid in our society is related to travel. Both leisure and work traveling have been practically canceled since the beginning of the pandemic.
As the world is recovering from Covid, people will not be traveling for business a lot soon. However, some experts argue that going virtual in the long run will not work for many events. They hope that once traveling feels normal again, in-person conferences will come back. But, there will likely be a digital option for those who cannot make it in person to such events.
6. More Transparency About our Personal Lives
For a long time, employees had to pretend they didn’t have a life outside of work and that their job was their only focus.
Borenstein, author of “It’s Personal: The Business Case for Caring,” talks about how Covid changed the perspective of having a life outside of work: “…if there is a need to do something for a child, or if you’re taking care of older parents and you have to take off, that is no longer going to label you as a slacker or someone who’s not serious. Having a life, even if it’s messy, doesn’t prevent you from being committed and getting your work done with quality.”
The impact Covid had on employees and the nature of remote work makes it harder to ignore employees’ personal life in a literal sense. Hopefully, this will result in being more open and tolerant with each other.
If you are going back to the office, these are some of the changes you might expect.