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Changes after the Pandemic: What Can We Expect?

As we start to come out of lockdown, it still doesn’t seem like we know in what capacity, what it looks like, how we’re going to or are meant to act. We’re seeing a lot of talk and not a lot of decisions. In these unprecedented times, we are sometimes taking cautious steps. Sometimes we are throwing caution to the wind. A lot of questions, with not a lot of answers; most to do with our personal lives; Can we hug yet? When can we go to a football match? Is it safe to go on holiday? Do I have to quarantine when I get back? Will the quarantine rules change when I'm away?

But also from a professional view; Will we go back into the office? Will that be every day or some days? Can we have business meetings with clients? Inside or Outside? Will our clients come to an event if we put one on?

It’s affecting all of us, and no one, not even the government it seems, knows what the right answer is.

In the interest of kick starting the economy again, we’re focusing on what it means to businesses.

Is It All Change Please?

The impression is that everything will change after the pandemic. We’ll change how we do business on a grand scale. No more unnecessary business meetings, no more business trips, no more offices. We’ll all work from home and video call each other from afar.

However, while yes, we’re creatures of progress and we’re adept at adapting to different situations, we’re also extremely traditional. Quite set in our ways, in our comfort zones. We LIKE to meet face to face, we LIKE to meet new people, we LIKE to have a chat with our colleagues in the office.

And it’s not just that we like to do it, although this is a huge factor, it’s actually that we thrive there. We’re social beings. I know some of you will be shouting up for the introverts but the pandemic has also been stressful for introverts. Suddenly their safe space has been invaded. Suddenly there is no escape from other people, because no one has anywhere to go.

And for the rest of us, we need interactions with people to grow. We need to have “unscheduled” interactions with people to help us learn, to innovate, to progress. It’s why diversity is so important. Methods or ways of thinking that haven’t been broached before are provided by different groups of people. You can accidentally find a solution to your problem from a casual chat while making tea. A new perspective that you hadn't explored before. Workshops and brainstorming sessions, usually effective in person, are cumbersome on Zoom. We need those interactions to help us problem solve and move forward.

Resetting Your Thoughts

Similarly, you need to have breaks in the day to chat to colleagues or meet clients to recharge your brain. You work better, more efficiently, you’re more productive.

It’s why we love the pub. You can switch your mind off completely from the stresses of the day and recharge.

We like to be rewarded for our hard work. Theatres, restaurants, shopping, holidays are all part of our “we’ve earned this” affirmation.

Mental Health & Real Flexibility

It’s a very important part of mental well being. The pandemic has accentuated the significance of taking care of our mental health as well as our physical health. With limited outlets, particular during Lockdown, it has been difficult to release from the monotony of the day or we break properly throughout it because we were working from home. This is something companies are going to have to look at as we go back to the office and try to return to normal. Different people will worry about different things so flexibility is going to be extremely important to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.

It’s not about a complete overhaul. It’s about re-jigging the way we think about work. About being flexible. And truly flexible. Not just you can work from 9 - 5pm or 8 - 4pm or 10 - 6pm. That’s not flexibility. That’s just shifting a block, not mixing it up.

Could the 5 day working week really be dead? Some countries are looking at it.

It can only be achieved if people are trusted to work. And that’s the key. For some reason we find it difficult to trust people to work if we’re not there to supervise. But then when we’re at home we work longer hours because we no longer have to commute or we’re worried we’re going to “be found out” that we took 2 minutes to putting a wash on.

We’re adults. We shouldn't need babysitting.

If proper changes are going to happen, it should be with affirmative action not more of the same in a different setting.

Becoming More Productive

Would a 4 day week be detrimental? Would we become more efficient? Would we become more trusting of our staff?

Some companies put monitoring software on laptops, which you can see the reasons behind if you bill hours. However, if you put monitoring software on people’s laptops to track work hours, you’re not progressing. Time spent doesn’t mean productivity or efficiency. There may well be some staff members who will test the limits, however you can deal with that as and when it is necessary. For the most part, you’ll see productivity and profits rise. Staff will take responsibility for their work and be energised to become more effective. The majority will thrive off their new found autonomy.

As the marketing head in companies, I am always asked what are the rules for social media use. And I always reply, “act in a way that means we don’t need to set any rules.” It makes people responsible for their actions. I haven't been let down, yet.

Of course we’ll be cautious to start with in unprecedented time but we’re adaptable.

Making Work A Better Place

Once we get over the excitement of seeing colleagues and clients again, injecting more normalcy again, we’ll fall back into old habits as quickly as it started. But perhaps we can make it better this time. Wholesale changes after the pandemic? Maybe we don’t need them, we just need to update our attitudes.

Those who can adapt to offer a true working life flexibility and a modern working environment will see an increase in employee loyalty. Those who don't, may start to see an increase in staff turnover.

The world was put on hold. It made us stop and think about how far we’d pushed mother nature, society and ourselves. Now we have the opportunity to start again. To do the same but better.

What are your thoughts on what business will look like? Will we go back to normal? How have your attitudes changed, if at all, to how your staff work? Let us know in the comments.

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