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All set to get back to work? Here’s what to expect

June 4, 2020

The countdown has begun. Just a few more days. All set and all preparations done. Can’t hold the excitement anymore.

This might be what’s going on in the minds of most people right now. With the end of the lockdown just around the corner, people are all pumped to step out and join their offices again. This social distancing has been tough for most of them and now they can’t wait to see their friends and comrades, work together, replenish the bonds, and get back to their normal life.

But is this what we should expect once the lockdown is over? Do we get back our normal lives like we used to?  Or do we have to wait more? It’s hard to assume that things will get back to normal at once. This pandemic has changed our lives for the last few months and is going to affect the coming months too. More so ever as we step out in the open. A new normal is to be adopted. Let’s see what are some of the changes to expect as we enter our offices after a while.

Some Immediately Visible Changes
Since the virus spread is still not contained completely, people need to take extreme precautions as they slowly regain normalcy, especially while joining the office. There are going to be various changes in the office environment. Some of them are listed here.

  1. Masked faces
    Needless to say, even when the lockdown is over, the danger of COVID-19 is not. And hence, having a mask on the face might be advised. Although WHO had initially recommended that masks are not necessary for uninfected people, it may be wiser to follow ‘prevention is better than cure’ motto. So employees may be asked to wear masks while stepping into the offices and interacting with their colleagues. Which brings us to the next expected change.
  2. Social Distancing Continued
    We all know the need for inter-team and interdepartmental interaction in the office to get things done. But this is a sensitive time. The virus spreads via droplets from human sneeze and cough. So it only makes sense to keep a distance of at least 6 feet (as advised) while talking to one another in the office.

    Mass gatherings should be avoided at any cost and social distancing has to be practiced. The structure of the office environment may also be changed to welcome distancing. Desks separated at a safe distance, having lunch separately, avoiding crowded lifts, using more stairs, and such little things that can make big differences can be seen practiced.
  3. More hygiene practices
    The one thing most of us have been neglecting throughout our life but has become the hero of the time is hygiene. And this hero will protect us as we join back our workspaces. People may find more hygiene instructions to follow like washing hands regularly, sanitizing frequently, maintaining cleanliness, avoiding touching objects and then faces, etc. This is going to help organizations maintain employees’ health and may be adopted as a habit by people in the long run.
  4. More Personalized Meetings
    Before the pandemic era (guess we can now address it that way), all the calls and meetings were very formal and solemn. But the lockdown showed people the other side. With attendees sitting at their homes in their casuals, a bit of informality was bound to jump in.

    This opens a new way of conducting calls and meetings, where people connect on a personal level, rather than just discussing the matter on hand. Also, organizations may see a reduction in face-to-face meetings as they are replaced by more convenient video calls. This networking will help individuals and organizations in the long run.


Some New Changes to Expect
The compulsion of adopting a new work style gave us some new creative ways of continuing work. These ways have helped in smooth operations while working from home. Due to their ease and comfort, such policies can be thought of as adopting in the normal workspace routine. Some of these are:

  1. Flexible Working System
    An article from The Guardian says that flexibility is going to be a nor after lockdown. Giving more freedom gives more confidence and a sense of ownership and responsibility to the employees. The lockdown gave an opportunity to test this system and it worked out quite well. People got a chance to balance their personal and professional work while delivering efficient output. So maybe the post-COVID working environment can see more flexible working policies in multiple organizations to introduce more ease of work.
  2. Remote work
    Now that people have acquainted themselves efficiently in working from their homes, it’d be interesting to see how organizations welcome this policy. This is interlinked with the flexible working structure. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Of course, it can’t be applied to places where it’s not feasible for people to take their work back home, but for organizations where it is possible, the adoption of this system can be seen happening. At least at the start, where, certain sectors like IT/ITES offices have been asked to work at 50% staff capacity, as per an Economic Times article.
  3. More Digitalization
    Anything that can minimize social interaction will be welcome at this hour. Examples are video calls and task management tools that people used during the lockdown. As employees regain their designated places in the office, they may expect to see a continuation of the use of such technologies - that bring people apart and yet help them connect. The ease of technologies has proved to be a great relief for the organizations and might as well be included as a part of their daily work culture.
  4. More Recreational Activities
    There were quite frequent informal hangouts among the employees where they simply bonded together. In those video calls, they played games, talked about their lives, about how they were holding up. These ‘watercooler conversations’ emerged as an excellent way of taking a break and venting out the work pressure. Such activities can be seen implemented more in the coming times to boost productivity,

    It will be interesting to see how scenarios change when the dust settles and we enter the post-COVID working environment. Fortunately or unfortunately, the pandemic brought some positive and negative impacts with it into the working environment everywhere. Some temporary, some with the possibility of being a permanent addition to the work routine. People will be more cautious now and will try new approaches to making work better and feasible while being at their comfort.

    However, as we are about to shed our shelter after so long and join our workplaces, it is of utmost importance to follow precautions and strict safety measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Let’s not waste what we have achieved so far. Let us all use our hard-earned freedom judiciously and be a responsible citizen and employee.

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