workplace post COVID coronavirus
Are you ready for a post-COVID workplace?
Posted by Stuart Falconer • October 1, 2021

I don’t know any businesses that were fully prepared for the pandemic and the havoc it would wreak. Companies were forced to adapt, furlough was a new word and wellbeing leapt to the top of the agenda as employees struggled to cope with the enormity of the life-altering conditions they were contending with. Hopefully, we’re now slowly emerging from the pandemic, or at least functioning within it. Are you ready for a post-COVID workplace?

A short, sharp shock for employers

The pandemic forced businesses to re-evaluate their working practices. It’s been an uncomfortable time for a lot of employers, especially those unaccustomed to having staff working from home. It raises LOTS of questions for employers that perhaps only time will answer. Can the business model survive without everyone in the office? How can you effectively monitor employees working from home? Can your business retain its market share with these new working practices? And what does it all mean for the future?

That’s a lot of questions and we don’t yet have all the answers. Ultimately, any review of working practices has to be a good thing, right? Employers are now being forced to drag stale and outdated practices into the shiny 21st century.

Who’s Zooming who?

I’ve really enjoyed Zoom calls. (Why do I feel the need to run for cover after saying that?) Zoom gave me the opportunity to share time with someone else, albeit over a screen. Oh boy, didn’t we need human contact beyond our households sometimes? I know that people have struggled with online meetings, certainly when broadband issues have prevented them from going ahead effectively. But one thing is for sure, Zoom meetings are here to stay. (Other providers are available but none have caught the wave as successfully as Zoom.) Online won’t completely replace ALL face-to-face meetings but a combination of both may well help companies adapt to the new normal.

Webinars

Webinars are an excellent tool for engaging with an online audience. For any business normally delivering face-to-face training to clients, webinars have been key to business continuity. Many have had to get their heads around the technical side but, glitches ironed out, employees have gained new skills and businesses can now also offer an alternative method of delivery.

Companies have had no choice but to utilize online platforms in order to retain contact with their audiences. As with Zoom, I’m sure webinars won’t completely replace all face-to-face interactions, but they will certainly have a place moving forward. And perhaps we’ll all be a little bit less scared of them!

Online security

Online security will come under increased scrutiny with more information being shared online, beamed from garden offices, back bedrooms and kitchen tables all over the country. Cybercrime increased by 600% during the pandemic as scammers took the opportunity to create new phishing scams. Companies will have to ensure their security systems are as watertight as possible. Bigger companies are likely to be on top of this already, but it could be more of a challenge for SMEs without a dedicated IT department.

Business premises – to keep or not to keep?

It stands to reason that if a proportion of the workforce is working from home, there won’t be the same necessity to have an office. Businesses will need to consider whether to retain their premises if they’re not being fully utilized. Smaller offices, perhaps not in prime locations, could well be the order of the day.

Work patterns

Companies have been forced to assess their staffing needs during the pandemic and juggle resources accordingly. One of the consequences has been to consider whether the business still needs the same workforce operating in the same way. Reconfiguring the workforce could be the order of the day for many businesses. Part-time working, ad-hoc work, flexible working – these alternatives to traditional full-time work are standing in front of employers and jumping up and down! In the past, employers would have ignored this but, getting ready for a post-COVID workplace, they must take notice.

Employee wellbeing

You can’t consider any of these questions without considering the wellbeing of your workforce. The pandemic has tested us all in ways we could never have imagined and there have been many examples of people struggling with their own mental health. How could anyone have prepared for this interruption to their routines?

With mental health rising towards the top of everyone’s agenda, employers must consider their own internal policies and wellbeing support. Most line managers have the appropriate technical skills to do their job but that doesn’t mean they have the management skills to deal with complex mental health challenges. Businesses must consider what type of support they are willing to provide and ensure it’s communicated effectively to staff. (Read our simple approach to mental health and wellbeing at work.)

Don’t have sleepless nights …

So, now are you ready for a post-COVID workplace? You can’t prepare for all eventualities (the pandemic proved that!) but staying one step ahead is essential for the success of your business.

If any of the issues above are causing you sleepless nights, contact us for an informal chat to find out how we can support you and your staff. Call Stuart on 0345 095 0139 or email stuart.falconer@morganthomsonhr.co.uk.