8 things that might change when we return to work
Re-imagining our professional lives in a post-pandemic world.
Will we recognise the working world when lock down is lifted? Here we highlight some of the ways business could change forever…
Reconfigured office space
A workforce that has grown used to social distancing measures and avoiding transmitting a virus will expect to return to an office that takes hygiene seriously. Extra spacing between desks, hand sanitisers within easy reach and policies around sharing pens and other equipment could gain popularity in the coming months. We could even see staggered working hours introduced to avoid packed rush hour trains.
A more diverse talent pool
As remote working opportunities become more common, companies will look further afield when recruiting. Potential employees will also apply for roles further from home, as geographical boundaries take less precedence. We could be witnessing the start of an even more diverse talent pool. Bias around age, background or family structure will have less influence on future appointments, as business moves closer to a meritocracy.
E-commerce on the increase
Covid-19 has hit those businesses slow on the e-commerce uptake the hardest. The most forward-thinking companies have developed systems to sell their products and services without a showroom, store or supermarket and the trend is set to continue. British Land, one of the nation’s biggest retail landlords, has even brought forward the time when it expects the share of shopping done online in Britain to double to 40%, by several years. Don’t be surprised if brick and mortar services are slowly replaced with click and order equivalents.
Tech to take on new importance
Life during the outbreak has been made a great deal easier by technology, and when lock down laws are lifted our workplaces will also benefit from innovation. The popularity of video calls will mean traditional meetings will increasingly include a mix of in-person and digital guests on conference calls and the advances won’t end there. Contactless door keys, automated taps and facilities will also gather momentum in a germ-conscious world.
Robust supply chains
A survey conducted in March found that 24% of British retailers were experiencing significant disruption to their supply chain as a result of Covid-19. Worryingly, only 7% of businesses questioned had enough flexibility to switch suppliers. In the short term, companies will have to assess their operations to replenish stock. In the long term businesses will have to build a flexible supply chain and use technology to protect against future disruptions. Response to risk will play a vital role in business as usual.
The relationship between managers and their employees has undergone an overhaul in recent weeks. Leaders have had to instil confidence in their staff through their business decisions, while also showing compassion for individual team members and the circumstances that have affected their remote working setup. Superiors may be tempted to micro-manage from a distance but those that trust in their colleagues and create a renewed sense of common corporate purpose will set new standards that outlast the current crisis.
Increased digital communications and content
Social distancing has seen us consume online content like never before. Conventional ‘offline only’ marketing channels look set to be re-imagined, as firms consider how they can further digitise their brand. Companies will have to think outside the box to get their content in front of audiences – think live-streamed conferences rather than packed exhibition centres. However, the real differentiator will be brand purpose, as savvy B2B and B2C audiences will demand more. The most successful businesses will be those that add value to customers and clients’ lives for years to come.
Stronger working relationships
Many of us went from working alongside our colleagues for five days a week, to sharing video calls for an hour here and there. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off each other in a meeting room or catch-ups in the kitchen, we’ve grown to miss the time we spend with our colleagues. A new-found appreciation for our co-workers will not only encourage more collaborative work when we return to our offices but improve team morale – we don’t expect the quizzes to end any time soon either.