Very few things, if any, are as important to change and evolution as a crisis. In 2019, COVID struck hard and came out of nowhere, forcing people and organizations to adapt and seek new solutions for new tribulations.
Has it become an incubator for a metamorphosis on the future of work, or merely an evolution that was about to come anyway?
Is the post-pandemic landscape that different?
Yes, it is.
The COVID-19 pandemic is easing and, all over the world, things are getting back in shape. Roads are full again, and the transportation and hospitality sectors are prospering once more. One could think that 2023 is ready to pick up where 2019 left — in most ways, it will, but not in every single aspect.
Before the pandemic, hybrid work or full-remote jobs existed but weren’t the norm. When COVID hit and everyone had to stay indoors, most companies had to adapt and work from home. Those circumstances brought loads of challenges but also paved the way for a never-before-seen reflection on topics such as productivity, the labour market, and work environment.
Are office spaces obsolete after COVID?
This was one of the hot topics during and post-crisis. Office spaces are far from obsolete, though.
A study by Harvard Business Review found that less than 20% of the inquired population favours fully remote jobs and that’s after having a taste of what it means. That isn’t to say that workers want to go back to old models, as 85% of employees want to be given a choice to adopt a hybrid work dynamic, according to Culture Shift.
So, rest assured — in the facilities world, the changes aren’t dramatic. After all, buildings and physical assets are going nowhere and facilities don’t suffer from viruses and whatnot.
What are the main post-pandemic workplace challenges?
👉The workplace has a lot more flexibility
For starters, the mobility and fluidity of the workplace have highly changed in this decade, due to the health crisis. Hybrid models of work raise new issues — scheduling the workers’ presence in the office and adopting new software for asynchronous communications are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to adjustments needed to be made now that your employees aren’t all confined in the same space, at the same time.
👉Focus on health and well-being issues
The whole health crisis brought a sudden focus shift towards more healthy workplaces. Working from home also rose some eyebrows regarding comfort.
Now more than ever, companies need to try and provide outdoor spaces, healthy indoor spaces, and services such as therapists or fitness instructors. All of this without even mentioning the need to better manage the available office space.
The scrutiny on meeting health and safety policies and SLAs is higher than ever. Both your facilities and all-around organization should be at a top level. If you want to go deeper on this topic, please read our article on Healthy buildings and the IoT in a post-pandemic context.
👉A growing need for contingency plans
COVID-19 came out of nowhere and suddenly everything changed. Very few companies in the world had some sort of contingency plan for such a situation. We can all agree that won’t happen again — fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on the fact that now you have seen how things can go rapidly south and still can be fooled.
If anything, the post-pandemic workplace is much more well-suited to an ever-changing routine and the need for prevention, rather than action.
👉A more demanding workforce
A McKinsey report on c-suite executives showed that 58% of the workforce is thriving in a post-pandemic world and showing signs of significant performance improvement. In contrast, only 11% stated that productivity has worsened.
There are a myriad of reasons for this improved performance, but one of the most important ones is the worker’s ability to seek a better situation for themselves. Confused?
Think about it — COVID brought remote and hybrid models, and thus the flexibility to work for companies that are located on the other side of the country or even the world! The pool of choices is wider and bigger than ever, so the workforce is more alert and demanding than ever.
A 2022 article by Forbes goes further and supports the theory that the balance of power has now shifted from employers to employees.
So, what does the post-pandemic workplace look like?
The future of work is companies with a fluid, fast-paced environment. People rotation is at an all-time high — both physically, with hybrid models of work, and strategically, with shorter spans in each job. Companies with flexibility and a knack for adaptation will come out stronger than the competition.
When it comes to facility management, both workers and assets now are not confined to one space anymore. With remote work and higher mobility, employees and technology are spread more widely across the board. There is a clear shift towards more working freedom, technology and individuality. Software to properly organize it all is of paramount importance.
A balance between a workplace being highly organized yet agile is critical. Daniel Coleman, a high-profile psychologist, states that how the employees feel at the workplace is more important than ever in History.
The companies of the future will want to treat their employees as they treat their customers — with the utmost importance and support.