This week marks one year since the beginning of the worst pandemic in modern time. Many of us can remember days before our state’s lockdown and the normalcy that was taken for granted in those moments. Days later, every aspect of our lives would be transformed, with stay-at-home mandates emerging, workplaces emptying, and children learning virtually.
Here we are now, a year later, existing at the brink of genesis. The United States, once the world’s COVID hotspot, is now on track to fully vaccinate its adult population within two months. Not least of these remarkable developments is the fact that more businesses are beginning to reopen confidently. However, make no mistake; just because companies are reopening doesn’t mean the workplace that many left will be the same when they return. As the year unfolds, there will be new changes to work facilities that will become pillars in our everyday work lives. Here are some of the things you can expect to see as the workforce leaves their homes and returns to the office.
The Standardization of Remote and Hybrid Work Models
Last March, companies were suddenly lurched into providing remote options for their staff. This endeavor was taken begrudgingly by so many companies that genuinely believed that working from home would result in a less productive workforce. A year later, we are teeming with studies, reports, and first-hand accounts that prove quite the opposite. Companies across the country have enjoyed a boost in productivity and efficiency from their workforce, proving these fears false. This decision has been mutually beneficial as employees who have bolstered their home’s stability and comfort have chosen to work longer and harder, yielding better overall performance. Companies aren’t just going to let these benefits vanish to return to the physical workplace. Many businesses will standardize their current hybrid work models, which will allow for facilities to stay at a safe and manageable capacity.
Daily Spaces Will Morph into Central HQs
Now that we’ve talked about how people will return to physical workplaces, let’s discuss who gets to return to the office. Many offices have begun to segment their workforce across departments and by essential versus non-essential personnel. Already, we have seen physical spaces repurposed as businesses transform their spaces into company video conferencing rooms, e-training rooms, and virtual seminar spaces. Rather than the facility being the daily space that all employees visit, offices could morph into central headquarters that non-essential employees visit only on an as-needed basis.
Staying Home When Sick Will Be Non-Negotiable
As workplaces reopen, there will be a critical reexamining of how sickness is treated. Gone are the days when employees come to work despite illness. To maintain the safety of facilities, everyone must take sickness more seriously than they ever have before. An employee with a cough or ailment that typically would not have kept them home will now be required to stay home and choose a remote work option until they feel 100% better. Some companies may choose to operate on the honor system, while others may require a doctor’s note to reenter the facility.
Continued Workplace Mask Usage
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve found that masks work in preventing the spread of not just COVID but everyday germs like the common cold and the flu. Parents across the country have circumvented the hotbed of germs known as schools for nearly a year and have been thankful for the opportunity to avoid common illnesses. For years, other countries worldwide have used masks to stave off bouts of sickness as a courtesy to their communities. Now that the United States has seen the clear benefits of wearing masks first-hand, it is likely that many will continue this practice well into the future. Leading epidemiologists and top medical professionals have suggested that the U.S. can see mask usage well into 2022 to stave off the virus’s last vestiges. Post-pandemic, even with many businesses allowing this to be a personal choice, we may see certain facilities begin to encourage employees to wear masks anytime someone even thinks they are unwell. Decreasing the spread of all illnesses within workspaces will be a responsibility many facility managers have for years to come.
How do you think your facility will change post-pandemic? Let us know. Email us at [email protected].