Covid-19 Has Changed the 2020 Workplace

This week I was sent a letter that said, “Due to COVID 19 etc. etc. you have been temporarily laid off”.

Fortunately, I will be getting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Unemployment Insurance while I seek out freelance work. My apartment building is bustling with people who are working from home or in a similar position as me, looking for new work. Our landlord has generously offered us rent payment deferrals so that we can get through these strange and wonderful times.

As I write this blog today, my eyes have cast upon a virtual work reality that has hit E_V_E_R_Y_B_O_D_Y.

The letters WFA OR W F H are now in use in TV and print commercials portraying everyday people Working From Home or Working From Anywhere in their various modes of social isolation.

OREO’s new Cookie Challenge “Stay Home, Stay Playful” “#cookiewithacause” has become a Global campaign for the brand , now adapting the slogan to its international audiences with the exception of China where work life is starting to recover into some semblance 9-5  normalcy.

Well, it has changed the face of work for GOOD.

For GOOD? You say……..How is that?

Let’s take a look at how, and why it is for GOOD, shall we?

12 Positive Ways Covid-19 Has Changed the 2020 Workplace

  1. TRUST: employers are now forced to trust their employees and employees are forced to be TRUSTWORTHY it’s going to be months until a universal return to work happens on a National level anywhere in the world.
  2. VIDEO-APPEAL, CHARISMA & CULTURE: Video appeal and charisma are becoming new criterion for new hiring decisions: Employees and employers are fast setting this up in their wish lists when it comes to making choices. Learning how to present and become adept at communicating ideas across video channels is now expected by employers. AS VIRTUAL COLLABORATION becomes a mainstay in defining what it takes to be a successful virtual worker, we will all be investigating new video and information sharing platforms beyond ZOOM, I’m sure.
  3. SOCIAL DISTANCING & SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: workspaces will never be the same. Get ready for new design concepts that will be taking over working spaces and reception areas. This is a welcome shift in the office design industry. Designing for pandemics is now expected and a requirement.
  4. REMOTE WORK POLICIES: workplaces are forced to roll out new, everlasting and improved remote work policies and provisions. Bottom line forecasts and budgets are offering greater procurement allowances for home office technology and office furnishings that cater to work mobility and greater ability to WFH.
  5. TWO WHEEL MOBILITY and MINDFULNESS: with emphasis on safe and affordable ways to get to and from work, you’ll see more bikes on the road and more places to park your bike too. While working from home you may find that running errands and getting places on a bike caters to an enhanced sense of wellbeing. Streets are getting some fresh paint and new lanes to accommodate better biking and strolling.
  6. ERGONOMIC CONSCIOUSNESS AT HOME: Working from home will open new creativity for where and how you work at home. You may find your self reading more about working from home and how design companies are approaching COVID with voice activation and new approaches to designing space and office furniture. Working in ways that enable variety, simple shifts from sitting to standing for example. Creating opportunities to use a double monitor or your home TV as a second monitor.
  7. SHARING FAMILY SPACES at HOME: if you are a parent, you are now sharing your workspaces at home with your kids. This means that your kids need space and quiet to study and learn and you need space and quiet to work and get stuff done. As I type this my daughter has just completed a workout where I did my Yoga this morning on a B MAT that lies right behind my desk. We both find that it helps us to have workspaces clearly defined and semi permanent, so we don’t have to pick up and move much, if at all during the day. Parents and parenting are changing to meet the demands of successful learning at home.
  8. CONSCIOUS CONNECTING: these times can be isolating and lonely. Be sure to keep a video connection live with colleagues and friends through out your day. If you manage a team or own a company, remember that team and culture are changing how they are defined and managed in the face of COVID 19. Working with video and virtually is not only commonplace it’s expected and will be expected by new generations of workers newly entering the work force during a pandemic.
  9. TAKING BREAKS FROM WIFI: At times it is helpful to unplug. I mean literally UN-PLUG. If you unplug your modem, you reduce radiation and radio frequency in your environment. Not everyone lives in arrangements that enable this, but if you can literally UNPLUG now and then, I highly recommend it. Modems reboot in less than 5 minutes of being plugged back in after being unplugged.
  10. SAFER & HEALTHIER COMMERCIAL OFFICE SPACES: With some workplaces opening back up and work forces getting ready to return to work, HR professionals will have to roll out new policies on health management and monitoring in the same way designers will have to respond to the need for touch-less technology solutions and voice activation demands. Trust me, no one will come to work with a cough or cold the way they used to. The ways in which we monitor employee health are going to change and there will be new technologies to do so, we may even have a health management tech boom of sorts on our hands.
  11. TOUCH-LESS WORKSPACES, TOOLS and HABITS: Gensler Architecture talks about moving from shared to personal devices and or to Blue Tooth office entry management in its weekly newsletter DIALOGUE BLOG. They refer to touch-less soap dispensers and get in to voice activation and virtual assistants as growing ways to manage day to day operations like lunch ordering and creating automation road maps for your employees and fellow workers.
  12. SPACE ACTIVATION FOR VIRTUAL WORK OUTSIDE: now that summer is on its way you can expect public places like city halls and town squares to offer accommodations for plugging in. If they haven’t already, they will soon.

The 2020 workplace will never be the same thanks to Covid-19. And that’s a good thing. Convenience, safety, design, expense and other factors are all getting a much-needed rethink. Although it’s disappointing that it took a pandemic to open our eyes, I’m looking forward to the positive changes that are likely to occur. Hopefully you are too.