The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has yielded positive results as countries around the world are now formulating plans to open up their economies. However, questions remain. How will the work environment look? Will there be a return to regular business practices? Or will businesses see a new normalcy?
The United States has implemented a plan to begin opening the economy as states will determine their outlook based on testing capacity and current impact of the virus. As states start to allow companies to return to everyday business, these organizations must maintain a safe environment for their team members.
As a result of this slow shift to normal business practices, companies will change their work spaces, their processes, and their structures.
Open, Collaborative Spaces Will Change
Over the last decade, businesses have shifted from cubicle-style work spaces to a collaborative environment with an open structure. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, this shift has allowed companies to fit more desks into their office space while also creating collaborative seating arrangements to expand their cultures and creativity.
However, as companies return to their offices, they must rethink these spaces that have become the modern office style. The Chicago Tribune states that many modern office spaces have bench-style seating with employees’ desks adjoining one another. This set-up is in conjunction with other team members that are facing in additional bench-style seating. Furthermore, modern companies have created seating arrangements and large open meeting rooms where creativity and shared work materials are encouraged.
This style will change. Meeting room capacity will be cut, collaborative seating will be spaced apart, and shared resources will be limited. Additionally, employee work spaces will be separated, and partitions may return to ensure health remains at the forefront. Although this change in a basic office set-up may seem trivial, many companies thrive on creating an incredible culture that fosters productivity through an open environment. This norm will change in the post COVID-19 work space.
The Long-Term Impact
Certain changes to work space norms may only be temporary; however, the impact of COVID-19 will yield a long-term impact. Fortune.com states that companies will turn further digital and automated while shared surfaces will become a focus of sanitation. Businesses will look to alternative surface materials that do not hold the virus, censored-activated controls will increase, and a shift to remote work spaces will take effect.
Businesses will become very health conscious as America’s economy begins its reopening. Organizations will implement guidelines on sanitation, and will also begin to move towards remote work spaces with most taking on a hybrid structure.
Changes in Business Structure and Practices
Business processes and structures will see an adaptation as the United States defeats COVID-19. The outbreak of this virus has led to businesses downsizing their staffing, turning to virtual meetings, and delegating their business duties across their management team. As companies return to regular behavior, businesses will adapt to this new normal, and according to fortune.com, the following will be the result:
- Middle managers will dissipate
- Business travel will decrease significantly
- Managers will take a greater hands-on approach
- Hybrid remote work structures will become the norm
The United States has released its guidance for reopening the economy as the fight against COVID-19 continues. Businesses will begin to bring their team members back into office spaces, but not without changes to normal business protocols.
Collaborative work spaces will be changed to ensure social distancing practices remain. Companies who have thrived on the culture boost and creative energy generated from this environment must now ensure their team has a safe space to work. This new normal may only be in the short-term, but long-term changes to delegating additional hands-on work to management as well as creating a hybrid remote work structure will become the standard.
Business travel will change as virtual meetings take place, and downsizing of middle management staff will take fold as companies have adapted during these trying times. As the American economy reopens, a shift in the workplace will unfold.