Most trends driving the post-pandemic workplace already existed pre-Covid-19 but were amplified by the pandemic, pushing businesses to make them the new norm…

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, most businesses had to adapt to the new circumstances and drastically change their workplace. Homes were transformed into offices, and zoom became the new meeting forum. Most employees have adapted to the new normal in the two years and enjoy working remotely.

 As the pandemic ebbs away and economies open up, it may be time to return to your office desk. However, some workers may continue working from home, especially those who think that working remotely is practical and enjoyable. Those returning to their workstations will likely meet transformed office areas to accommodate emerging trends and hybrid employees (those working in the office and home).

Most of the post-pandemic workplace trends we will likely witness are trends that already existed on a small scale, accentuated by the pandemic. One study by The Gensler Workplace shows that post-pandemic workers have new expectations and needs due to Covid-19 that the present workplace must deal with. These trends go beyond physical office space reconfiguration. They are part of the rethinking by HR managers and companies to redefine workplaces.

Let’s consider some five unique workplace trends accelerated by Covid-19 and are now driving the need for new-post pandemic offices. Some trends covered in this article are simply an acceleration of pre-pandemic trends, while others are purely new pandemic-accelerated trends.

Trend 1. Accelerated remote working

A poll by Gartner found that 48% of post-pandemic employees prefer remote work compared to only 30% in the pre-pandemic. Workers who have enjoyed working from home will expect their organizations to maintain this arrangement beyond the pandemic. Some organizations like Gensler had improved productivity even after transitioning to work from home during lockdowns.

These statistics confirm what other pre-Covid researchers have shown: workers who spend part of their workweek away from the office have improved job commitment, higher workplace satisfaction, and better employee engagement. Working outside the office also promotes creativity and innovation.

Interestingly, some research companies like Gallup indicated that businesses could attract new talents by adopting a forward-thinking remote working strategy before the pandemic. Another survey by Gensler looked into the U.S. and global regions and established that the “hybrid model” made workers more involved in their work, resulting in overall job satisfaction.

Trend 2. Expanded data collection

During the pandemic, employers frequently used technologies such as tracking work computer usage, virtual clocking in and out, and monitoring employees’ communication to keep tabs on their staff. These technologies can help employers monitor employee engagement and track productivity. Furthermore, they can help management monitor employees’ well-being and find ways to improve their experience.

Though the HR department has been monitoring employees using non-traditional tools, post-pandemic will see HR employ modern monitoring tools to collect remote workers’ safety and health data. As businesses employ these advanced data collection tools, they should follow the best data practices, ensuring respectful use of employee analytics and information.

Trend 3. Improved privacy

Open office settings before the pandemic did not champion privacy in the workplace; however, they enjoy ideal privacy when working from home during the pandemic. These employees will expect the privacy they have enjoyed for almost two years to be maintained even as businesses open their doors post-pandemic.

Though an open environment allowed the rise of unassigned desks and shared seating areas, it is detrimental to focus or personal use. When businesses return to in-house operations, employees will not want to reverse the privacy trend but encourage better office allocation.

Most organizations will likely continue with the hybrid workspace formula so that fewer employees come physically to the office. This means that the privacy employees enjoyed while working from home will continue in the office and home.

Trend 4. Accelerated Digitalization

During the pandemic, collaborative tools such as Zoom and Teams have been the norm of the day, signifying digital acceleration. Businesses are also investing in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. With most employees working remotely on their computers, we witness a larger digital footprint.

Organizations can now collect reliable real-time data for better decision-making. AI-based tools are helping companies drive employee experience. Personalized employee experiences result in better productivity and profitability.

Organizations have stepped up network analysis and automation to understand their workforce better. HR can use data from collaborative tools such as Teams and Zoom to determine how long employees collaborate and with whom. This data helps them know how to integrate these collaborative tools post-pandemic when businesses return.

During post-pandemic digitalization will continue to soar, leading to the establishment of new business models. Companies will continue to embrace blockchain and new payment methods such as cryptocurrency.

We do not expect a reversion of these digital gains since employees have tasted digitalization’s flexibility and technological convenience.

Trend 5. Broader focus on employee health

The pandemic emphasized the need to be sensitive to employee well-being. Organizations set up employee welfare programs to provide robust fundamental benefits focusing on the four pillars of emotional, physical, financial, and social well-being.

Post-pandemic trends will continue to prioritize employees’ well-being and overall experience through effective leadership, culture, and managers. Employees’ stress levels have been higher than ever before during the pandemic since employees have been disconnected from their colleagues.

On the other hand, working from home has increased productivity with employees working long hours. The result has been increased burnt out and more disconnections from the human touch. Organizations will invest more in employees’ health, especially mental health, to keep the workforce more productive.

We may also see organizations arranging for frequent in-person and virtual team-building activities to cater to employees’ welfare. We may also see improved wellness programs that incorporate the hybrid system so that everyone within the organization (working from home or in the office) feels a sense of belonging.

The Bottom Line

The pandemic changed the way organizations conduct businesses, and we will only see an acceleration of the new inventions. Before Covid-19, companies made huge technological strides underground, but the pandemic accelerated. The strides companies have made to incorporate to diversify the modern workplace will continue to improve employee experience and increase productivity.

What other exciting post-pandemic workplace trends have you seen?