Are We Ready For The New Post COVID-19 Workplace?
A small child sitting on the floor playing with blocks, another nestled into his mom’s arms all the while she’s trying to juggle video conferencing and keeping her child calm. Covid-19 has dramatically changed the way most of us work, whether we are doing it from home, carefully finding ways to follow social distancing at the market, or finding ourselves at the unemployment line. In whichever form our work environments have taken we may have to live with our new reality that companies may either not recover or they will need to drastically change their adaptability for the near future.
My husband went to work last Monday like most days, he said good bye not knowing how different his return would be. He received news that day that everyone would be working from home, given the new Covid-19 guidelines given by the Montreal government. For many, the ability to work from home may seem like a godsend, but it may not be the bells and whistles we think. Being prepared for the transition is one thing but if you’re not, working from home can be confusing, tedious and inhibit efficiency.
It was a rough start, working through a proprietary VPN to connect to secured servers and the amount of bandwidth needed for all employees wasn’t enough. What to do with impending deadlines and tasks looking to be completed? He decided to work off-hours looking to complete needed tasks when others might find themselves offline; changing his work hours. While others found themselves working less because of disconnectivity, I found he was working more- working on his computer on things he was able to send back to his work computer and looking for “off-peak” hours and connecting remotely.
For those still employed in businesses where human contact seems to be constant. In those essential businesses that keep a city running and its citizens able to keep going. Some of those businesses are even hiring people as the boom of traffic has increased flow to markets, pharmacies and convenience stores. Positions that were before underpaid have received raises and overtime with fervor in the last few weeks, and will probably continue to work diligently until things start to calm down. (Not to mention the health care professionals and adjacent that are working nonstop at the moment.)
For those unlucky in working at what the government deemed as non-essential or small businesses that were deeply affected by less interest in their goods and services, may have found themselves without employers or employees. It may be difficult to grasp at what or if the stimulus packages proposed by governments will help and what qualifications some may have to prove of their worthiness. Their impending approvals still to be determined.
Instead of seeing this as a fore long lament we should see it as an opportunity. A chance to reset the way we think of the modern workplace, to go from cubicles to computer screens and the like. This may be an opportunity for industries to realize that flexibility and adaptability are the crucial crux on which to stake their businesses on. Some industries are better equipped than others but that doesn’t mean with a little ingenuity others can’t follow suit.
Some strategies that would help most businesses include a lean structure, re-analyzing what makes your business overburdened and seeing what could be done away with. Outsourcing is also another strategy- getting to what makes your business tick and becoming an expert in that and letting others handle the mundane. Thousands of businesses worldwide use sub-contractors or outside firms to handle payroll, hr and marketing and business development. How else could businesses be changing in the upcoming months? How can we change moving forward?
We still don’t know what the future of work will really look like but I hope we can take away some lessons from COVID-19.