Covid-19 has had a huge impact across the world and on all areas of our lives. From early 2020 working from home has become the new normal. This has affected our day to day work life and has changed the way that we interact with our colleagues, how we set and follow expectations and when and where we work.
”Preliminary analysis of the ‘Covid-19 and Working from Home Survey’, shows that 78 percent of respondents said they would prefer to work in the office for only two days or less. Almost a third – 31 per cent – said they would prefer not to spend any time at all in the office.” [University of Strathclyde]
Here are 5 ways that the pandemic has changed the working environment
- Increased flexibility – Why do we need to work 9-5?
Pre-Covid were you trying to juggle getting into the office on time and doing the school run? Why can’t you go for a run or do a yoga class at 9am and start work later as long as you get your work done?
The Pandemic has made many organisations take a look at what employees need to accomplish on a day to day basis and if they need to be in the office for all of these tasks to be done. As long as employees keep meeting their targets then it should not matter when or where work is being carried out. This realisation has changed the way that working from home is regarded by employers.
 “Before the pandemic, only around 5% of the workforce worked mainly from home.”[CIPD]
What has come out of the pandemic is the greater need to look at people’s individual needs. For example, some people would prefer to be at home two or three days a week to be able to spend more time with their children or there are those who prefer personal interactions so want to be in the office five days a week. It is important that organisations are prepared to be flexible.
- Greater focus on employee engagement
Working remotely has meant that we are all working independently from our home locations rather than in the office in our teams. On the positive side, this has meant that we have all had to rely on ourselves a lot more and have had to challenge ourselves. Giving employees more freedom and by not having your boss or colleague readily available has empowered and motivated employees which has assisted in personal development.
On a more negative note, some people have found working from home more of a challenge and have felt isolated and lonely. This means that managers have had to step up and keep their teams more motivated.
It has become more important for managers to arrange video calls and to keep their employees updated on the latest news from within the business. Some organisations have even arranged virtual team-building activities to keep morale high and to combat the feeling of isolation.
- People are prepared to work from home
As employees have been working from home for over a year now they already have their offices set up at home. Office-based professionals have already created their own space at home to be able to complete their day-to-day tasks such as set up video call technology and by making sure that they have reliable and fast internet connections.
Employees have also had the experience now of working from home and know that they can be as productive from home as well as being able to improve their work/life balance. Organisations across the world have realised that they don’t necessarily need person-to-person contact at all times in order to be successful.
- A Less Formal Work Environment
Even though we are physically apart from each other the pandemic has arguably led us to become more human and more like ourselves. When we speak to colleagues over a zoom call we see them dressed in more casual clothing, sometimes see their children and family in the background and can see some of the environment that they live in. This has led to more open conversations and has created the feeling of comfort where we are more likely to be ourselves.
One of the benefits of working from home is being able to dress down.  “77% of people do not care whether you wear a suit to work” [eReceptionist]. Being able to dress like ourselves means that we are able to feel more comfortable at work.
- The end of Frequent Business Trips
One of the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic is the travel industry, with many countries introducing travel bans and quarantine restrictions before you can enter.
Companies have realised that it is much more efficient and cost-effective to have an online call than to travel and take a business class trip overseas. Organisations have realised that they can be as productive and meet set targets by doing this rather than travelling abroad.
The world has changed as a result of Covid-19, with the workplace being one of the most affected areas. It has altered the way that we work and interact with each other. The introduction of new technology has made us realise that we can still perform and meet our objectives from home. Employers will be weighing up the pros and cons of working from home and will be looking to make changes to their existing policies to become more flexible and support people in the transition out of the pandemic and for the future.
 University of Strathclyde – https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/studyrevealsmostemployeeswanttokeepworkingfromhome/