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3 Ways the Workplace Will Change on the Other Side of Coronavirus

Julie Kratz, CEO and founder of Next Pivot Point, breaks down the ways in which workplace environments will change as employees return (or don’t) to their offices.

Businesses across the globe have been forced to find a new way of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of employees and leadership teams are stuck at home, causing brands to change their policies almost overnight. Still, many are wondering which changes will fade and which will remain permanent on the other side of this crisis.

To learn more, 1851 sat down with Julie Kratz, a speaker, trainer and author focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Kratz is also the CEO and founder behind Next Pivot Point, which offers a wide variety of resources for businesses looking to increase diversity in their companies. In this interview, she breaks down three ways that offices will change due to COVID-19.

1. Virtual Work

While companies will eventually return to their offices again, working from home will continue to be a part of brands’ DNA. Now that businesses have found ways to make virtual policies work for them, employees will expect that benefit to stay.

“Gone are the excuses that working from home doesn’t work,” Kratz said. “There were real barriers years ago, like internet connections, security and video access, but now, people have figured it out. If you trust people to do their jobs, they don’t need to be in a cube farm to prove themselves.”

In order for virtual work to be effective, however, Kratz notes that it’s critical to have rules in place. “Virtual work policies need to be clear,” she continued. “Managers need to understand what their expectations are after COVID-19.”

2. Flexibility

In addition to working remotely, employees are also going to expect more flexibility in their schedules moving forward. Kratz said, “The demand for flexibility isn’t just because parents are guiding their kids through e-learning at home. Everyone has wanted more flexibility in the workforce for some time. It isn’t just women — human beings want to spend time with their families. Between commutes, long work hours and an abundance of activities, people have been squeezing in maybe dinner and bedtime. Most people I know are saying that they’re not going back to that on the other side of this.”  

Kratz also notes that the policies and procedures surrounding flexibility need to be clearly identified as well so that it’s consistent across the board and employees know what’s acceptable.

3. Getting to Know Coworkers and Clients as “Real People”

Even though COVID-19 has forced offices to find new ways to connect while working remotely, there’s a sense across businesses that communication is at an all-time high. Because employees are getting through a crisis together, there’s a level of bonding that’s been absent from some workplaces in the past.

“I can’t believe how many people have said that they’ve gotten to know their co-workers better now than they did before.” Kratz said. “People are going to be bringing their full selves to work on the other side of this. It’s now normal for kids to be in the background of Zoom calls, and organizations are now treating their employees like full humans by getting to know their hobbies, interests and backgrounds. I think this is going to make them way more successful.”