Workplace of Future
Post COVID-19, it is going to be a very different world with very limited social gatherings and travel, be it personal or work-related, utmost importance will be given to personal hygiene, the focus will shift towards maintaining good health and immunity levels; at least till everyone in the world is vaccinated. There will also be a dramatic shift in how the workplaces will look and operate in the future. There is already news floating around saying organizations like Google, Facebook, etc. have extended WFH till next year and it is expected to continue for a lot many such organizations for a long-long time.
There is a very high possibility that future offices will be a place for gatherings and community interaction etc. rather than for individual productivity. In fact some of the organizations across the world have already started coming up with a way to contain the number of employees who will have to visit the office on a regular basis. Not only will it help the employee save on their commute time and money, but it will also help the organizations cut down on the expenses on physical resources. In fact, office layouts are also likely to see a paradigm shift from open floor ones to close doors/cubicle heavy ones. Installation of smart devices/IOT will see making inroads in offices to avoid touching common switches/remotes/phones etc. Another proposal that has come into picture is to make employees work in shifts in order to maintain social distancing norms. With time, organizations will also have to limit employee travel and daily commute and will need to invest in encrypting the existing ones or developing their in-house video conferencing solutions. Organizations will also have to regularly keep a check on fever and other symptoms. Tracking and tracing of employee health data shall be the new normal now and a lot of devices will be installed upon entry/exit points. Centralized ACs might see sanitizers or air purifiers built-in or as an add-on accessory for the existing ones. Office cafeterias might just lose their glory and offices would start allowing/encouraging employees to eat at their workstations as well as there will be a sharp decline in sharing food and eating food from outside. Disposables will be an upward trend in consumption as reusing stuff in public places is something people will be shy of; which will give room for a lot of inventions so that we do not end up going back to single-use plastics. In order to engage employees working from home, the engagement team will have to come up with innovative ways for team building. It will be really interesting to see new ways here.
Expecting WFH to become a norm in the future, employees will also have to have a dedicated corner as a home office with minimal or no distractions and hi-speed connectivity. Working from home through-out the day can lead to expectations in terms of more support in the
chores/errands from the other non-working members of the family and so striking a balance between work life and personal life will be of utmost importance. To support employees in this, organizations can pass on their savings from G&A expenses, renting/leasing office and parking spaces, reduction in electricity consumption, etc. on to employees in terms of perks like free floor cleaning robots or dishwashers. It is also expected that casual attire will be a new normal. Though by casual, I do not expect it to get all out but there would definitely be some leeway. It might not be the case in all professions but would surely be in some. With companies and managers getting restless on not watching their teams physically, it is expected to see more stringent monitoring policies.
E-learning has already picked up and is expected to grow exponentially in coming times. There are two-folds reasons for it. The first one is the most obvious where movements are restricted and secondly, with the economy crumbling, up-skilling and cross-skilling are going to come in handy to get a strategic upper-hand by organizations.
Absurd pay packages are also expected to get normalized and a lot of firms will move to output based compensation models.
Some organizations will pick up quickly, some will follow but one thing is for sure that the workplace post COVID-19 would be very different.