Over the past several weeks, thousands of companies around the United States have been hard at work in crafting strategic plans to safely prepare for office re-openings. According to a recent study conducted by SHRM, approximately 53% of workplaces are set to reopen by mid-July.
Yet as COVID-19 concerns continue to swirl throughout the country, it is evident that businesses may never return to the “normal” that we once knew. As uncertainty remains prevalent, many are left to wonder: what will the future of the workplace look like?
We sat down with Suzie Mitchell, our Vice President of Client Delivery, to pick her brain on the future of work and learn more about what our workplaces may look like in the months ahead.
Will there be less of a reliance on physical office spaces?
Anecdotally, I think it’s fair to say that there will be less of a reliance on physical offices moving forward. While it might be a bit premature to make that sort of claim, I really believe that businesses have witnessed the value of the work-from-home model. One of our clients in the financial services industry had originally been initially opposed to letting their employees work remotely. But having talked with them recently, they told me how much they’ve been completely rethinking their workforce strategy. Because it has proven to be less expensive and employee productivity has not dipped, the company is looking to implement a hybrid workplace model for the foreseeable future. I strongly feel that this kind of approach—one where companies place less of an emphasis on their employees being physically present in the office—will become the norm.
How can workplaces maintain their corporate culture, even without physical interaction in the office?
This has become a common topic of conversation in the workplace as of late. Is it possible to maintain a company culture when every employee is working virtually? In my opinion, organizations need to lean on Microsoft Teams or other video-conferencing platforms. The importance of face-to-face communication is paramount if we aren’t able to be in the same room as one another. Getting to observe facial expressions and emotions is HUGE! After all, studies show that 93% of the way we communicate is non-verbal. Companies must also discover how to bring the “fun” into their virtual calls. By coming up with creative events like a costume party or pajama day, employees will be kept energized and engaged. This will ultimately foster the type of positive workplace environment that every company hopes to create.
Lots of employees are struggling to maintain a work-life balance while working from home. How can companies better promote a healthy sense of equilibrium?
The most important thing that companies can do to help their workers keep a work-life balance is to enforce boundaries. Too many people are choosing to work round-the-clock from dawn until dusk while making little to no time for breaks. Eventually, this will lead to employee burnout, which leads to an overall decrease in overall productivity. Companies should promote work-free weekends for their employees, encouraging them to step away from the various stresses and pressures that accompany their jobs. That way, come Monday morning, their workers are well-rested and ready to tackle the week ahead of them.
Will we see an increase in staggered workplace schedules?
It’s my opinion that staggered work schedules are going to become increasingly popular in the months (and maybe even years) ahead. Organizations around the country are choosing to expand their hours of operation to abide by capacity regulations based on their area while also making sure to guarantee full-time hours for their employees. For some popular businesses like hair salons and barber shops, it could become the new norm to remain open 7 days per week or offer extended morning/evening hours to support increasing demand. I’m intrigued to see how organizations will come up with creative and innovative ways to remain viable as our nation continues to battle with COVID-19.
Looking for more workforce advice from our industry experts? Check out our Broadleaf blog here.
To learn more about Suzie, be sure to connect with her on LinkedIn.