Post-pandemic, will the office landscape ever be the same again?

Nearly every business or organization, regardless of thee industry segment in which it operates, has been at least somewhat impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Existential forces have been responsible for quite a few businesses having to reduce staff working hours, either as a mandatory or voluntary measure. In a world of tough choices, often that action was the most reasonable way to cut costs while preventing redundancies and furloughs.

Months into the pandemic and with more restrictions being put in place again for the foreseeable future at least, what began as a short-term fix to weather the economic pressures of the COVID-19 outbreak now has some employers rethinking the possibilities of how they can restructure jobs to “work” effectively outside of the traditional work-week model.

In doing so, employers are responding to a growing appetite for part-time and flexible working as people re-evaluate their own work/life balance situations.

The economic benefits of allowing a higher proportion of staff to choose reduced hours on a more permanent basis could be beneficial for companies already operating on historically thin margins.  While it’s too early to see widespread policy changes happening, some companies are already actively planning to offer more part-time and flexible work to meet the desires of those who no longer wish to work a traditional 8-hour day/40-hour work week.

Among the numerous repercussions of the “coronavirus economy,” one may be the growing realization that office employees actually can take back some control of their time – that they can still do good work while structuring their work days, weeks or months differently. 

Any lingering stigma once associated with working fewer hours, working from home, or leaving the office early to pick up children has pretty much disappeared.  Employees doing any of those things are no longer the exception – and hence there’s no longer the guilt associated with bending or breaking the rules of attendance at the office.  And that’s before factoring in the economic attraction of saving thousands of dollars per year in commuting and other travel-related costs.

One chief marketing officer, Amanda Goetz of Teal Communications, goes so far so to declare that the 40-hour work week won’t exist in 10 years.  “The way companies operate now, there’s no need to ‘own’ someone’s calendar as long as you know they have very clear metrics and can hit their goals,” this manager emphasizes.

What are your thoughts?  How much will the recent changes be permanent going forward … or will we soon return to the paradigms of the pre-pandemic office world?  Please share your perspectives with other readers here.

One thought on “Post-pandemic, will the office landscape ever be the same again?

  1. Forty years ago I lost a stressful job at Hill & Knowlton for writing a research report at home rather than use the company library. Today, stretched out in bed working, my behavior would be close to the norm. We have the pandemic and the computer to thank for that.

    Odd thing is, though, computers could have supported most of the remote work we now do as early as the mid-90s, but nobody let us, and we found computer capabilities daunting.

    This is an old story. Microwave ovens, for instance, came along in the 1950s, but nobody used them much for more than twenty years — not until working mothers became the norm. Then we all learned to cook with them. The “family dinner” has never been the same. (Some would say it never recovered!)

    People need a forceful reason to adopt change, to learn new technologies; these days there is certainly no better reason than the prospect of a ventilator and a coffin.

    The world of work will never be the same again. Some people get lonely as the only passenger on an elevator. They will miss the office. I expect most of us will not be desperate, though, at the prospect of no longer having to waste time commuting or putting up with office drama. Since Christmas is coming along this month, I’d merely add that Ebenezer Scrooge would be unhappy with the new norm: It’s harder now to be an office bully!

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