More than a year has passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and our working culture has shifted. There was a sharp increase in work-from-home opportunities, while millions of others lost their jobs1 . Categorization of employment occurred, and the dangers of the virus resulted in the creation of “essential workers,” while our future appears uncertain. So the question is, how has Covid-19 changed our work culture, and how will the work culture look in the post-pandemic future?
Following the pandemic, a large-scale workforce relocated remotely , and employees abandoned commuting and large office spaces in favour of working from home. As companies lost their tangible aspect of the business, corporate culture suffered. The corporate world has lost everything, from the perks that companies provided (free coffee, restrooms, gyms) to socialised meetings. Companies, on the other hand, should brace themselves because the post-Covid era will be the new normal.
In this Zoom era, organizations are hosting more meetings and employees are spending less time attending those meetings. There is development in the 5G spectrum, which enables workspaces at any place, and with Artificial Intelligence being powered through laptops and Virtual Reality headsets, meetings are being conducted with employees all across the world. We are now shifting to a hybrid workspace model post-pandemic where employees prefer working from home.
For decades, 9-to-5 has been the unofficial slogan of office related works. This rigid structure changed in the covid-19 era as companies gave up unnecessary meetings and office timings. A study found that less than 13% of employees want to return to full-time office job2 . Businesses that will be able to adapt to this new model of corporate culture will definitely gain a competitive advantage in the industry.
With the world struggling to survive on the brink with the raging pandemic, the women were pushed off the edge. The issue of rising unemployment hit women the hardest as they were 1.8 times more likely to lose their jobs than men 3 . With more women recruited in the corporate world, the household burdened them severely , which led to a decrease in their productivity.
Many other intangible concerns remain. Many businesses, for example, take pride in having a specific “work culture.” Maintaining this ethos when your workforce is dispersed across the country is difficult to say the least. The “feel” of a firm is important both in terms of clients and employees. This brings us back to the idea of a company being a community for its employees. While many people enjoy working from home, a large number of people find it lonely and isolating. Furthermore, working and living in the same space makes it more difficult to leave work stress behind at the end of the day.
The physical act of moving between your place of work and your place of rest is therapeutic in and of itself. The population’s stress, anxiety, and depression levels have risen due to the lockdowns. It will become even more important, and perhaps even more difficult, for employers to ensure the emotional well-being of their employees if they work remotely.
Perhaps the solution, post-Covid-19, is not a binary choice between the traditional office model and remote working, but rather a medium in which workers and businesses can take advantage of technology to save time and money when work can be completed independently and remotely, and in which workers are given flexibility; however, team and client meetings could still take place in person, indeed.
Whatever direction individual firms pursue in the future, one thing is certain: work culture will never be the same.
“ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Seventh edition Updated estimates and analysis.” International Labour Organisation, 25 January 2021, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_767028.pdf. Accessed 20 September 2021. ↩
“PwC’s US Remote Work Survey – January 12, 2021.” PwC, https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/covid-19/us-remote-work-survey.html. Accessed 24 September 2021. ↩
“COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects.” COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects, 15 July 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/covid-19-and-gender-equality-countering-the-regressive-effects. Accessed 24 September 2021. ↩