How to Navigate the Post-Pandemic World of Work
As parts of the country begin to slowly reopen, we’re all experiencing the same fears and concerns: what will life be like as we emerge from our homes and attempt to adjust to a new normal? Despite the ever-evolving nature of this pandemic, it’s clear that Covid-19 has changed our lives forever – and it isn’t going to disappear any time soon.
So, we must learn to adapt, the same way our forefathers did following every major period of instability throughout the course of history – from wars and plagues, to droughts and economic recessions.
The way we engage with the world will be permanently changed, and nowhere is this more evident than the world of work. We will not be returning to a “business as usual” scenario. Instead, you can expect changes in every aspect of the workplace, from office design and corporate travel to meeting strategies and gender equality.
Here are our top tips for navigating the post-pandemic workplace:
Increased Focus on Risk Management
Let’s be honest: insurance is a fear-based purchase, and the Covid-19 crisis has elevated public fear to new heights. As businesses scramble to adjust to the increasingly volatile nature of the pandemic, the role of the Risk Advisor will become more important than ever – in both immediate crisis management and mitigation of future risk. Evaluating your clients’ needs from a holistic perspective – which includes the pandemic’s impact on employees, finances, and business models, both now and in the future – will help you identify potential sources of risk facing each company and develop a comprehensive risk management plan according to your findings.
Learn more about the Trusted Risk Advisor™ Certification and how it can transform your business.
Corporate Office: Relic of a Bygone Era?
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the average number of employees working from home has risen from 4% to more than 90% during the Covid-19 pandemic, and 80% of surveyed employees said they would prefer to continue to work from home rather than return to an office. In fact, powerhouse corporations IBM and AmEx found that allowing employees to work from home reduced overhead costs by 30%, improved productivity by 87%, and helped each company attract and retain highly-motivated, experienced, and talented employees. The global stay-at-home ordinance has ultimately caused leaders to reconsider whether an office is really necessary, or simply a wasteful use of budget. For companies who can justify the luxury, an office may become a place reserved for collaborative work – i.e. meetings and gatherings – and that most employees will choose to do concentrative work alone at home or in a private office. Offices of the future will be designed to accommodate social distancing, with wide hallways, more private spaces, and increased emphasis on assigned seating.
Technology over Travel
Recent research suggests that it could take between 10 - 20 years for this generation to recover from “fear of being with others”. Thanks to Covid-19, the days of flying into a regional office for an afternoon meeting are effectively over. Corporate travel budgets will be all but eliminated in favor of technology that allows employees to connect and collaborate while maintaining safe social distance. Trello is a fantastic project management tool, while Slack or Microsoft Teams offer instant group chats to keep everyone in touch – without an onerous email thread. Leaders should encourage active employee participation in virtual communities to keep employees motivated, engaged, and cultivate a growth-oriented mindset. Leveraging technology to maintain human connection will be more important than ever in a post-pandemic world.
Women at Work
Despite significant progress towards gender equality in the workplace, only 27% of new mothers return to work after childbirth, compared to 90% of new fathers. According to Workplace Insight, this research suggests that, “Women still suffer economically and often become ‘stuck’ at work as a result of taking on childcare responsibilities, while there’s no impact on fathers.” However, the ability to work from home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and for the foreseeable future, offers the potential for women to care for their families without giving up the careers they’ve worked so hard to build. This could transform the conventional career path of women in the corporate world and improve gender equality in the workplace – and beyond.
As Eugene Linden wrote in a recent Time piece, “In stable times, people look outward; in unstable times, societies turn inward. When instability rules, people take out “insurance” of various sorts. They turn to families, tighten ties to community, and accept the trade-off that these deeper entanglements limit opportunities for exceptional wealth for any one individual.”
The most successful companies to emerge from this epidemic will be those who are able to successfully turn inward to identify and manage risk to their employees and their business, adjusting to the ever-changing landscape of a post-pandemic world to transform their organization and the way they serve consumers of the future.