For the past few months, the world of work has had to reinvent itself and nothing could have prepared us enough for this, despite the immense incline in technology advancements over the past few years.

Naturally, change is inevitable. And from here on, we are in a post-pandemic recovery stage, a process we all need to go through.

Working from home (WFH) is the culture shift many never saw coming — a trend bound to shape our future. Over the past few months  has taken on a new definition. Instead of a 1-hour drive in heavy traffic to your city centre, today our “commute” is just a few steps from the bedroom to the dining room table — it’s the new “home office.”

With cases still rising all over the world almost a year after the virus was introduced, there are still too many unknowns. Many in the labour force are wondering — what will the workplace look like in the near future? And how will it function? Will we ever return to a pre-Covid workplace? If not, how will things have changed?

We can already analyse just how tremendously organisations and the working world have changed over the course of this year.

Here we will explore the trends shaping our world post-Covid, with regards to workplace changes and work practices.

Trends Shaping the Future of the Working World

1. Remote work is here to stay

Telecommuting, for the most part, is here to stay and play a large role in the future of the working world. Previously remote work was reserved for a few of the workforce; mainly IT boffins who could easily do the same work at home — like creating code software. However today remote work is the new normal.

Ernst & Young Global Insights Director De Yonge (2020) states many employees are preferring to work from home due to the flexibility it provides; while employers are also reaping the benefits, discovering just how effectively they can manage their remote teams. Corporations are also seeing the potential to save on real-estate expenses as well as the required infrastructure and utility expenses of running a workplace if remote work continues.

While some in the labour force are fond of the flexibility this new lifestyle brings, especially busy mothers; others are reminiscing on the good old days when they could enjoy the company of others in the office.

In the future, we can expect this trend to continue.

2. Enterprise downsizing

With managers planning to permanently and temporarily allow a portion of their labour force to WFH in the future, there is less of a need to pay expensive rentals for huge office buildings. Today companies are realizing there’s less of a need for all their workforce to be physically present. Especially departments such as call centres and admin. In truth, there really is no need to rent out huge office blocks in order to accommodate hundreds of employees when admin teleworkers have functioned just fine during the pandemic.

Needless to say, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Obviously, an aerospace engineer won’t be able to do their handyman work at home. But when it comes to office employees such as HR staff or admin, those who can easily do their work entirely on a computer, we will continue to see this trend unfold.

3. Reshaping cities

Cities will be revamped. Health concerns of living in cities due to Covid-19 have already driven out much of the workforce to more rural, less-populated areas. For most of the labour force, living out of the city will become increasingly more viable as commute time will no longer play as big of a factor as it did before. More employees will continue to work from home in the future and therefore won’t need to commute any longer, making it practical to live out of these business hubs. Even the employees who decide to return to work, most likely part-time — working only two or three days a week, will choose to live out of the city, as they won’t need to commute every day.

Previously, business location played a huge role in choosing a home. Most people would look to buy or rent close to the city centre where most of the jobs are located. But this is bound to change, at least for the teleworkers. In the future, we are likely to see more people varying away from the city to live in much more affordable, rural neighbourhoods. Some teleworkers will even pack up and move across the country to an entirely new state to WFH.

4. Strengthed health and safety policies

Adaptations have already been set into place with many brick and mortar organisations as we all have noticed. Many organisations have adapted their workspaces for both their own workforce and us customers to accommodate for social distancing. These regulations include such as being separated at least one metre apart, wearing face masks in public, and limiting the number of people allowed in the workplace at once. This is likely to continue for a long time as cases are still very much active and even on the uprise in some countries.

It surely won’t be as prominent as it was during the peak of the virus, but it will continue to be integrated into our personal and work lives following the pandemic.

Work desks will no longer be cluttered with pens, papers and photo frames as they used to be pre-Covid-19. The future of the work desk will be a clean tidy space, in order to allow for easy cleaning more often. Hand sanitizers will occupy every room and all department in the workplace.

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Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

5. Virtual “board meetings”

In-person conferences and business meetings are a thing of the past. We have all examined just how effective online meetings are. Whether you are a lecturer, learner or business employee. Generally, time is strictly obeyed to, and focus is given more promptly; because when you are meeting online the point is to “cut to the chase.” Online meetings eliminate chitter chatter in my opinion, allowing for a more productive meeting.

This isn’t necessarily the case back at the workplace where meetings between managers and employees often take longer than expected, and usually the point gets lost in between all the chatter that’s happening. In an ABC interview with real estate mogul and Shark Tank guru Barbara Corcoran, the American businesswoman states that she prefers the new method of digital meetings. As a manager herself, she says that it sparks creativity and allows for better focus on the topic as opposed to the traditional pre-Covid face-to-face board meetings in which personalities get too involved. She herself predicts this will be the  just by analysing how effective they have proved for businesses all around the world, and that in-person meeting will continue to die out as we have witnessed this year.

6. Productivity

Our return to the office will induce greater creativity as well as a more productive workforce — at least for those who do eventually return.

Similarly to what happened to all of us when we were faced with the challenge of WFH, it was a stressful constraint that forced our minds to act on a solution, which in turn induced creativity. A similar process will reoccur when the workforce returns, or at least for the workforce that does return.

We won’t be returning anytime soon to the way things used to be — at least not in the next several months to a year. From here on the economic world is being forced to focus greatly on safety measures in the workplace in a way that won’t endanger ourselves. Social distancing and hygiene guidelines are here to stay — whether that be in the workplace or your social gatherings.

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