The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both employers and employees alike has been unprecedented. Businesses that thought they were all but immune to crises suddenly discovered they weren’t and more individuals than ever before have been furloughed or working from home.
But while many of the changes to working arrangements and workplace policies were implemented as a direct result of the lockdown, a significant number are likely to remain going forward.
When many of us hear the phrase ‘the new normal’ we immediately think of prolonged social distancing guidelines, more cashless payments and lots of handwashing. But what will the new normal look like when it comes to the workplace?
Well, for a start, we can expect the working from home trend to continue. If the coronavirus pandemic has shown anything it’s that remote working can be taken advantage of by scores of people in different job roles. Now that this has been highlighted and employees have developed a taste for remote working, employers would be shortsighted to remove this benefit without good reason.
Remote working and technology go hand-in-hand, with the former only made possible by the latter. Therefore, we can also expect organisations to make a concerted effort to invest in new technologies that will further facilitate remote working practices.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits for businesses is the cost savings they can make by facilitating remote working with technology. For example, with more people working from home, office space could be reduced or even rented out, while travel costs could be slashed as video calls become the standard.
With more employees working remotely on a regular basis, line managers will need to ensure they are communicating clearly and effectively. There’s a fine line between checking in on staff who are out of the office and coming across as constantly checking up on them.
Communications should be clear, concise and consistent to ensure nothing is left to the imagination and employees do not receive mixed messages.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, employers were at various stages on their staff wellbeing journeys, with many needing to do more to support their employees. However, once the coronavirus threat has passed, employers will need to do even more to support the wellbeing of their staff.
The inevitable recession and strain placed on businesses will put additional pressure on staff, with many wondering whether their jobs are safe. Ignore this situation and organisations will soon find that their employees become disengaged and demotivated, which will likely lead to productivity levels waning.
But with the right employee benefits in place — especially things like counselling services that are often available as part of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) — employers can benefit from staff that are engaged, energised, happier and healthier, and who provide a better service to customers.
As we enter the so-called ‘new normal’ employers need to focus on their staff wellbeing more than ever and consider the role employee benefits can play in helping them achieve their overall objectives.