10 Workplace Lessons Learned During the Pandemic
From masks that match our outfits to words like social distancing and antibodies becoming a part of our everyday conversations, the pandemic has altered the way we live our lives.
While we may have gotten used to expressing our unique and quirky personalities through many patterned masks, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on our mental health and overall well-being. Anxiety and depression have risen significantly as being socially isolated has become our new normal.
This may come across as a bit depressing however, many positive changes have been introduced into our everyday lives, especially in the way we work and do business. Major companies have changed the way they work with a very employee-centric strategy. With these new changes, naturally, there are many lessons to be learned that will continue to help us implement the best business practices to ensure the well-being of all our employees remains at the center.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the lessons we’ve learned since this unpredictable and ever-changing time in our history and how we can create lasting impacts going forward.
1. Hybrid Work is Here to Stay
Most major companies had to adapt to a remote working environment at the onset of the pandemic. Working from the office just became impossible. While now, working from home is no longer necessarily mandatory, many employees have found it to be a more viable and comfortable option and have no desire to return to working full time in person.
There are still some employees who do want the option to go to the office a few times a week to interact and see their colleagues. Organizations must therefore now adopt a hybrid workplace that gives employees the option to be in the office or at home. Even the CEO of American Express has stated that it makes no sense for employees to come back to the office.
2. There’s an App for that!
Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams are just some of the many apps that maybe we never heard of before but have now become our saving grace during the pandemic. Apps have allowed businesses to continue their operations at an optimal level even with employees spread across the globe. Major companies need to continue to take advantage of all the apps that are now available allowing them to set deadlines, manage budgets, and even more importantly communicate with each other. These apps allow members of our teams to feel connected no matter where they are and ensure that productivity will be as before.
3. Let’s Talk about Mental Health
Health is precious and should never be taken for granted. Mental health as we have learned is even more precious. Our businesses will never succeed if our employees are not operating at their best. We must take care of their well-being and always ensure that they know they are at the center. Many major companies have started to prioritize their employees’ mental well-being and introduced wellness programs such as Ernst & Young’s Better You Program that can address any doubts or issues our employees may be experiencing.
4. Re-evaluating Vacation Policies
Your employees may need to take extra days off for quarantine or even more so to take care of a sick loved one. Companies must rethink their employee leave policy whether it be a mental health day or an ‘I need to spend time with my kids’ day. People’s priorities have now changed, their life is now at the center, not their job. Employers need to create policies where employees have a proper work-life balance and they should be given the option to take a couple of hours off to recharge without fear of losing their jobs. Companies like the insurance company Guardian Life have made it a priority to make it easier for their employees to take time off.
5. Communicate to Keep them Engaged
Even though most of our employees might be at home it’s no excuse to not keep them motivated. Having a morning catch-up meeting where we drink our morning coffee together is a great way for the team to feel engaged and also understand the tasks of the day. It’s also great as it helps the team to stay close and up-to-date on each other’s lives even outside the office. Maintaining a good work relationship with our team helps us to remember that they are not just faces on a screen.
6. Create your Oasis
On the employee side, we must create an environment where we feel we can work at our best. Your home office setup should be intentional and conducive to focused and uninterrupted work but also a space where you feel excited and motivated to go into every day. We spend a major part of our days glued to our computers so our spaces should also be ergonomically suited to our needs ensuring that we continue to nurture our health.
7. Self-Care is #1
Our bodies, our minds, and our souls have been through a lot, to say the least. Nurturing ourselves holistically ensures that we are consistently at the top of our game at work as well as in every other aspect of our lives. We must prioritize self-care and engage in activities that promote our general well-being and reduce stress. Take the time to stretch, meditate or go for a short walk in between meetings. These simple activities can have a major impact on keeping our minds at peace and our well-being in check.
8. Don’t Leave Your Manners At Home
Yes we know, the best feeling in the world is being able to attend meetings from our bed in our pajamas but we have to remember that we are still working and we are still a representation of our team, our company, and ourselves. Do you need to wear a jacket and tie? Maybe not, but maintaining proper etiquette when at work goes a long way in ensuring your team knows that you care about the job that you’re doing and that you are giving them 100%.
Being able to adapt not just as people but as a business is probably one of the biggest lessons that we have learned during this time. Businesses must be flexible, agile, and dynamic as this is the only way they will succeed. If we look at the way some major restaurants were able to stay in business when they were forced to close by offering delivery, meal kits to go and some even held home cooking courses. The reality is markets have changed and needs have changed and there must be the willingness to pivot and change direction when needed.
10. Go Digital
Remote flexibility doesn’t stop at your employees, your customers must be able to access your services digitally as well. People are a lot more likely to visit a website than walk into an office nowadays and providing that option for them is imperative. Companies must now make their online presence a priority and optimize it for the best customer experience. Stepping up your online game in terms of marketing, blog articles and social media is what will now keep you relevant on the market.
We are all still easing into our new normal and while it may seem like there’s been a lot of setbacks the truth is we have progressed. COVID-19 has taught us many things that we will never forget and at the same time has brought numerous positive changes that are here to stay as we continue to conquer it together.
Check out our E-book “The Future of Work is Hybrid”