The New Workplace Options after COVID-19
As most countries take steps towards lifting the coronavirus lockdowns, we begin to see the new changes that we will need to implement in our daily lives. Until a vaccine or a reliable treatment is found for COVID-19, preventative measures will play a big part in every aspect of our lives including how we navigate the workplace. In this post, we look at the options for the workplace under these new measures.
The Current Situation
Obviously, the health and safety of employees in the workplace is critical. Before reopening, employers will need to adapt their workplace to ensure that their workers can return to work safely. To help businesses achieve this, each government has provided a roadmap on how to reopen after lockdowns.
Over the last few weeks, some regions have started opening up again. In Europe, countries such as Italy, Germany, and France have started easing lockdowns. However, other countries and regions will have to wait a while longer to ease their mandated lockdowns. Moving out of lockdown safely will take time, and therefore it is up to employers on what they decide to do next for their business.
Option One: Working from Home
Since mandatory lockdowns were introduced globally in March, employees all over the world have signed into work every day from their home offices, kitchens or whatever space is free in their home. From recent studies, most employees have agreed that they are more productive working from home. Employers also agree with this statement. In a recent survey by Willis Tower Watson, businesses across many sectors agreed that employees’ productivity stayed the same during lockdowns.
Switching to remote working has many advantages at this time. Firstly, it protects employees. By working from home, employees can continue to do their job with very little risk of catching COVID-19 in the workplace. Secondly, it eliminates the stress that may occur when employees are brought back to an adapted workplace. Finally, the company can save money on the required rearrangements and adaptations that need to be made to the office in order to remain safe.
As the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, many companies may choose to decide to move permanently to a remote working model. In recent days, many major global companies such as Twitter and Facebook have announced that their employees will work remotely (if they can) until the end of 2020. For some companies, the remote working model is not new. Before the COVID-19 crisis, 43% of employees worked remotely at least once a week so the advantages for remote work have been known for a long time.
Option Two: New Office Standards
As soon as the restrictions are lifted, employees must return to their offices. However, the office environment employees left in March will not look the same when they return.
Before reopening, businesses will need to update their corporate policies and ensure new preventative measures are in place to avoid infections. As part of global public health guidelines, employees will need to wash their hands regularly, so employers will need to provide hand sanitisers in the workplace. Depending on the country’s guidelines, the wearing of face masks or coverings may also be required inside the office.
Structurally, offices will also look different. To prevent transmission of COVID-19, open-planned office desks will need to be replaced by new, smaller cubicles or separate partitions with screen guards. In addition, one-way traffic systems and temperature testing may be used to avoid infection. The number of people using communal areas such as kitchens and conference rooms will be curtailed. Finally, staggered work hours may also become common place to reduce crowding and maintain social distance rules.
Option Three: The Mixed Approach
For some businesses, remote working will always be a temporary situation but what we’ve all learned during this crisis period is that the future of work does include flexible working. Depending on the nature of the job and the office size, some companies may decide to take a mixed approach – a combination of remote work and office-based work.
Making changes to offices especially physical changes costs a lot of money and while larger organisations will be able to afford to make radical changes, many businesses might not be able to afford to or have the space. Therefore, we are more likely to see a mixed approach to work during this crisis.
Using the hybrid approach, employees may be required to work in the office some days while working from home for the rest of the week. To reduce crowding, businesses may split their staff into smaller teams who work alongside each other in the office. The mixed approach seems the most obvious solution for managers to resemble and achieve some normality in strange times.
With the mixed approach, employees will be able to see some colleagues face to face albeit with social distance measures in place. On the other side, employees will get to enjoy a more flexible working pattern with hybrid work.
One of the key trends to come from the COVID-19 crisis is the decision to hire remote workers. As companies start to open up, they will focus on their business plans for the year. We know that some of the global larger companies are continuing to work remotely for the rest of the year but what about the companies that were planning to expand abroad?
As a result of COVID-19, many businesses have been unable to continue with their expansion plans due to country lockdowns. However, for businesses who want to expand abroad and hire remote workers internationally, an employer of record (EOR) solution is available.
With an EOR, you don’t need to set up an entity. The end client company manages the day-to-day responsibilities while the EOR provider takes responsibility for the entire employment relationship (payroll, employment benefits and HR).
So, if you were planning to hire international remote employees this year, an EOR solution may be for you. Through engaging with an EOR provider, companies can scale globally and ensure that all workers are legally and fully compliant to provide services in the new markets in a matter of days.