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What Will The Post-COVID Workplace Look Like?

Remember the office? Going to an actual workplace? It may seem like a distant memory. But, some people are ready to return to work – to a physical office location. Chatting around the office cooler. Catching up on gossip and sharing working-from-home stories.

On the other hand, many employees have thrived while working remotely. They found a way to create a work / life balance at home. There’s no commute. They can throw in a load of laundry in between Zoom calls. And how about cooking with an air fryer?

Are you ready to get back in the office, or have you enjoyed being at home? In my mind, it comes down to whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. I feel like introverts can be happy by themselves, while extroverts crave the hustle and bustle and interaction of the office.

I believe we can have the best of both worlds. Remote work or more specifically, hybrid work, will be the new workplace model for many organizations.

COVID cases are subsiding and vaccinations numbers are rising, so the idea of returning to the office may be possible. No matter what, the workplace as we used to know it – is gone.

So, what happens next? Here are 7 ways you can help prepare your employees for the new workplace:

Create face time at the office

Leaders will need to accommodate changes in work patterns in the post-COVID era. Organizations will need to create a hybrid workplace that meets the needs of employees who are in the office, as well as those who choose to work virtually from home.

Going back to the office will definitely give employees that much-needed time to have casual conversations while walking past each other in the hallway, or by catching up when grabbing coffee in the break room. Remote workers might need to come into the office on a weekly or monthly basis for in-person meetings. It’s important to create those connections between in-office and remote workers, and your teams can show their work in progress.

Provide more space for employees

Space will be a priority when it comes to going back to the office. An employee’s office space has shrunk dramatically over the past decade. Before COVID, an employee’s office space reached a low of 175 square feet per person. With social distancing and the need for personal space, leaders may need to rethink a floor plan that will allow workers to feel comfortable and safe in their office space.

Use tech for returning to the office

When everyone sheltered in place and began working from home, many organizations pivoted their technology strategies to help employees have everything they needed to work at home. One obvious company that thrived during the pandemic was Zoom. While Zoom, and other virtual conferencing platforms, such as Microsoft Teams are most likely here to stay, there will probably be new technology that makes work easier in this next phase of planning. Collaboration tools like Slack connect employees who are in the office with those who may continue to work remotely.

Be transparent with employees

Every leader wants to do what’s best for their employees. And in this post-COVID era, leaders want to know what employees want. How do employees want to work? Do they want to be able to “work-from-anywhere?” Do they want to be in the office? Are they happy to keep working at home? Would they entertain the idea of a hybrid work experience? For example, go into the office 2 days a week and work from home 3 days a week?

Be transparent about what your organization is doing to make sure employees are safe and feel comfortable being in the office. Ask them what they need to have peace of mind and be engaged while they work.

Do everything with empathy

As work continues to be more digitally enabled, and the state of work will most likely continue to evolve over the next few months and possibly the next few years, it’s important to relate to your employees’ work needs. Some may be experiencing burn out as companies have had to pivot to keep their organizations relevant and viable. Some employees may have had to switch roles to fill a need. Take the time to touch base with employees on a regular basis. Ask employees where they see themselves going within the company. Help them create a plan to reach their goals.  

Make work inspiring

Whether an employee drives to “work” at a physical office space, or goes to their basement office, it’s a state of working. Everyone has different challenges, needs, and situations to handle their jobs. However, there will be times when employees need to be physically present to collaborate with coworkers, bosses, and teams. Let’s hope we can be flexible about how we work and find a better work balance. Leaders should focus on how to make work inspiring, productive, and fulfilling – wherever work is done.

READ MORE: Are Your Workers Wasting Time Searching For Information?

Consider an enterprise mobile app

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