According to recent numbers from Statics Canada, an estimated 4.7 million Canadians have transitioned to working remotely since mid-March. Following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Canadians are now commuting no further than their living room or kitchen. While some of us have settled into the routine of working from home, this sudden shift to a remotely based workplace presents a slew of new challenges for employers. The reality is that COVID-19 will continue to impact how we work moving forward, even after the pandemic, and the ways in which companies conduct business will have to reflect that.
Flexible Working Environment
Chats around the water cooler and conference room meetings may be a thing of the past. Ottawa based tech company, Shopify, has already preemptively closed their offices until 2021. CEO Tobi Lukte described Shopify as a “digital by default” company on Twitter, meaning that some 5,000 employees can continue to work remotely even once COVID-19 restrictions are eventually lifted.
While some employees have adapted well to working remotely, others are looking forward to returning to the office when life is back to some form of normalcy. However, even if your workplace does open following the pandemic it will likely look very different - particularly when it comes to enforcing social distancing measures. Many employers will shift to a more flexible working arrangement - giving employees the option to divide their time between home and in office. This compromise ensures that employers can follow cleanliness and social distancing practices and employees can still feel connected to their colleagues and pre-pandemic routine.
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Company Culture Reimagined
There is an undeniable link between a strong company culture and employee success. Friday beer carts and ping pong tournaments were routinely credited for their ability to bring coworkers together. Our new reality, however, will force us to foster that same familial culture without being in the same space. Although it may feel impossible to achieve or maintain a strong company culture with the majority of your team working remotely, many companies have already found new ways to bring co workers together. For example, virtual happy hours, surprise deliveries when celebrating accomplishments, or outdoor activities (as long as social distancing rules can be applied). It isn’t impossible to cultivate or foster a strong company culture in light of COVID-19, it just takes some thinking outside of the box.
Related Article: How to Keep Your Startup Culture Thriving
Communications and Automation Tools
If working from home has taught us anything, is that there are indeed many meetings that could have been easily conveyed in an email. This new era of remote working means that employers will have to substitute regular in-person meetings with virtual chats or messaging. Telecommunications has, and will continue to be, our new normal - whether that means video chats with our managers or prospecting clients over the phone. It will also be interesting to see if there is an increase in the adoption of automation tools during these uncertain times. Automation tools could be particularly beneficial during these uncertain times as companies try to navigate the uncharted waters of life after COVID-19. From sustainability to cost effectiveness or information management, replacing an existing workflow for an automation tool could mean one less thing a company has to worry about.
Based on what we have seen since March, everything points to a workforce that is open to adapting their processes so employees can work effectively from home. That being said, it will likely take some trial and error before any best practices or methods can be nailed down. While this pandemic has brought much uncertainty, one thing is for sure - the future of work will look very different.