What impacts has COVID had on the workplace of the future?

Since COVID-19 hit hard on most major economies, many workplaces and offices have been abandoned or at the very least businesses have been forced to make extensive changes if employees can return safely.

For many (who can), working from home has highlighted a very real opportunity to save money, time and stress as opposed to travelling to places of work during the ongoing pandemic. However, as vaccine news continues to develop, more business owners are looking to repopulate their office spaces. In doing so, they will have to make extensive changes in order to protect their workforce.

Here, we’ll examine how the workplace of the future has changed over the course of the pandemic and highlight key areas where businesses will be required to change. We’ll also be addressing how more employees becoming home workers has benefitted not only businesses but the economy as well as the environment.

Working from a distance

According to consultancy firm RSM Global, “In many industries, work can be done effectively at a distance, with technology allowing connectivity, collaboration, and innovation.” This is a fact that many businesses have spent the last six months coming to terms with as they restructure their companies around the concept of remote working.

There is, of course, a worry that for those who can’t work from home, they will feel left behind by this new order, with only around 40% of the workforce thought to be technically able to do their jobs from home. According to MIT executive director Elizabeth Reynolds, a hybrid model is likely to emerge that will “try to balance the efficiencies gained by remote work with the benefits of social interactions and to creativity and innovation generated by working in person with others.”

But for the 60% that can’t work from home, a decline in daily commutes will have an undeniable knock-on effect to everything from hospitality to transportation and everything in between. For these jobs that might simply not exist five years from now, many have looked to education and retraining as the answer, but win such a large scale is that even possible?

Leaning on tech

Communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have seen major increases in professional use throughout the pandemic and that trend looks set to continue going forward in a big way. This is going to have a profound effect on the role employers play in the workplace, with a more ‘hands-off’ approach needing to be implemented almost by default.

Working hours are also looking set to change, as we will no longer be restricted by commutes. This means employees will most likely be working longer and later, so businesses will need to do all they can to balance this and ensure the work/life balance isn’t lost in the shuffle. Because changing the way we work doesn’t need to change the way we live.