These are challenging times, and the solutions and adaptations that have emerged are poised to cause a paradigm shift. That’s if we aren’t in one already. After COVID-19 subsides, many aspects of society – of work and life – will most likely not revert back to how they used to be. There will most likely be a new normal that takes on some of the best practices developed during the crisis. Maybe because these practices are necessary to reduce the risks of a second or third wave, or another future pandemic. Or because they just worked well and made everything more convenient. Either way, the new normal will be evident in both work and life. So here are the most likely trends and how it will affect you:
Leveraging Remote Work
The work from home setup was already gaining traction beforehand. Now it is definitely going to be here to stay and will be a major part of the new normal.
According to Gallup 62% of employed people in the US are working from home due to COVID-19. Lots of people have made similar shifts elsewhere in the world. So for months they have been presiding over work in their dining rooms-turned-office, gone through countless conferences and calls on Zoom or Skype, all while tending to their kids, making home-cooked meals or having food delivered, and so on.
While some jobs cannot be done remotely, for many people it turns out they can work from home productively. And according to Gallup, around 60% of American workers prefer to work remotely as much as possible and even when public health restrictions are rescinded. So this is something employers and businesses must take into account.
After everyone has got a taste of working from home, there may be no Take-Backsies. This might even disrupt the commercial real estate market as more employees work remotely, reducing the amount of office space being rented. On the bright side, food delivery services are going to be on the rise.
More Monitoring Systems
Still, this shift behooves employers and managers to stay on top of their teams no matter where they are. So there will most likely be increased usage of monitoring tools, apps and software. These can entail tracking your keystrokes to analyze productivity, or simple trackers and logs. The head honchos will try their best to ensure productivity and reassure themselves that people are using their time wisely.
Social Distancing in the Office
The office won’t entirely go away though. There are people whose jobs can’t be done remotely. And in-person meetings and sit downs will still need to take place. However, lessons learned from social distancing may be applied. Super crammed workplaces or open floor plans might give way to spaces with cubicles and other forms of partitioning giving people ample distance. Similarly, there can be a hybrid working from home and office setup so only some people will be present in the office. This can save up on rent, as offices won’t be as large. Likewise with the electricity bill.
Teams will still have meetings. Yes, even those meetings that could just have been done through an exchange of emails. Even if people are no longer working in the office, they will still meet and discuss. Through Zoom, Skype, Slack, and so on.
For those working in sales and customer support, they will already be familiar with handling calls and conferences. While those high-flying business travel types will have to get familiar with headsets and pets or children interrupting their conferences. After all, the new normal has to take into consideration exposure risks that come with travel. This won’t mean that everything will be in a standstill, but the pace might become slower than before.
Outsourcing to Virtual Assistants is the Name of the Game
These adaptations and shifts might cost some businesses a pretty penny. But those who have already been outsourcing to Virtual Assistants are well positioned to excel in the new normal as they leverage their VAs’ capabilities while staying within budget. This might be a good time for more traditional businesses to shift towards remote staffing and Virtual Assistants too. The height of the crisis was not easy for a lot of sectors and businesses will want to get back on their feet, regain capabilities without spending too much.
Wellness, Self-Care and Happiness Matter
These are trying times. All those canned “as we go through this difficult period” and “we are in this together” phrases actually do mean something. Front-liners are at risk, people have to take precautions as they worry about themselves and their loved ones, individuals and organizations alike are strained financially, people worry if they will still have jobs in the long term and companies worry about their staff.
So it is really important to stay healthy and keep well through self-care and community care. People need to look out for themselves and each other. And with the work from home setup, there is also the risk of eroding the boundaries between work and personal life.
Work stress might carry over to out of work hours. If you work in your dining room, you might still be thinking about deliverables and deadlines as you try to enjoy a meal. Conversely, as you tap away on your forms and spreadsheets your mind might wander to the chores you need to do afterwards.
So it is important to get your affairs in order. When you are working from home, you can’t be miserable at work and try to leave it or shut it away from your personal life because the boundaries have been thinned. This might be an eye-opening moment that will drive people to find more meaningful things to do in life, freeing them from situations that were not right for them in the first place.
We are going through a crisis. Life is continuing as is work, for the most part. Albeit, slightly different, as the new normal emerges, built from lessons learned in the past and methods devised for the future. It is not certain whether this new state will become permanent, or if we will eventually return to the old normal. But for the meanwhile, we will have to take precautions, necessary measures for the post-COVID reality. We must ensure our health and wellness as individuals and as communities, looking out for each other and the workforce. What is certain is that the future of work is coming.