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So much has been written in the past few months about how Covid19 is changing the workplace landscape. Endless statistics, surveys, and studies consistently report on slowdowns in the economy, increasing layoffs, and the number of businesses currently being decimated.
Workplace ‘doom and gloom’ rules the media – understandably so. Many Canadians are now pondering questions they’d never imagined. Is it safe to send my child back to school? Is it selfish to put my child in daycare so I can work? Will I ever be able to return to my place of work? How will my work change as a result of social distancing? Will I ever remember to NOT leave my mask in the car???
Amid the chaos however, a new kind of order is beginning to emerge, along with the realization that maybe the ‘new normal’ isn’t so bad after all.
The rigidity embraced by so many organizations is no longer possible. To survive, traditional companies now have to re-think not only the way they do business, but also their antiquated ideas around employees and productivity – or what is sometimes referred to as the ‘bums in seats’ mentality. Managers are learning that employees are not more productive because they are corralled in a cubicle from 8-4.
This loosening of the reins means that many workers now have more freedom to decide when, how and where they are most productive. For many, commuting has been virtually eliminated and employees’ previously compartmentalized lives are now more fluid, and humane.
In May 2020, RBC released a report that said 75 percent of employees interviewed would prefer to continue working from home — for at least some of the time — after the pandemic ends. After having a taste of how things COULD be, can you blame them?
Organizations have known, for some time now, that employee wellness programs benefit both employee health and corporate bottom lines. Paid gym memberships and ergonomically optimized workstations are now commonplace.
The pandemic has catapulted wellness in the workplace to a whole new level. According to Canadian HR Reporter, more than half (57 per cent) of Canadian employers believe that COVID19 will have a moderate to large negative impact on employee wellbeing. In addition, 53 per cent of employers are enhancing their wellness programs.
Aside from the obvious steps to support physical wellness, many organizations are taking a broader, more holistic approach to health and including access to financial advisors, enhanced leave policies, increased focus on work/life balance, telehealth, and more. This approach to employee wellness isn’t just the right thing to do anymore, it’s becoming an expectation and a differentiator in attracting and retaining talent.
Covid19 is driving organizational transformation faster than we’ve ever seen before. The heightened level of change and uncertainty in the workplace has increased the demand for soft skills like problem-solving, agility, adaptability, critical thinking, communication, innovation, and creativity. These are the skills people need to deal with pervasive uncertainty, the pace of change, and isolation.
Today’s workplace also requires leaders and managers with elevated levels of emotional intelligence. The increased pressure on their teams to work under challenging conditions requires empathy and authentic connection.
Ultimately, enhanced soft skills and emotional intelligence will further humanize the world of work, and that’s a good thing.
So, despite the fact that Covid19 has dragged employees (some, kicking and screaming!) into a new way of work, practically overnight, it’s likely that some elements of a post-pandemic workplace are evolving to be more human-friendly.
At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of Covid19 – the good (as touched upon in this article), the bad and the ugly. We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.