The coronavirus pandemic brought with it a lot of chaos, negativity and, combined with social injustice, unrest in humanity. But it’s not all bad, COVID-19 changed business forever.
When the global workforce was told to work from home and children were sent home from school to learn, the world erupted. Technology became the saving grace, and then it became a source of exasperation. Parents struggled to find balance between working from home and suddenly having to teach their children at the same time. Employers struggled to set schedules and create appropriate boundaries. For almost a month, it was pure chaos. But out of that chaos arose the phoenix, full of fire and a newfound rejuvenation to find answers and solutions to problems faced by everyone around the world. This phoenix came in the form of outside-the-box thinking and flexibility.
Pre-pandemic, the typical workday consisted of getting up early, taking a shower, dressing professionally, leaving the house for 8-10 hours (or more, depending on your role), coming home, making dinner, having a glass of wine and going to bed. If you have kids, you also prepared meals, got them to school and got them home, made sure they were present at extracurricular activities and any other appointments. Weekends were reserved for fun, visiting family and watching children play sports.
Then COVID hit and everything changed. Employers and employees had to figure out a way to keep businesses up and running while also maintaining some semblance of life balance. With everyone needing to be on video calls or meetings for education and work, something had to give. School schedules are pretty strict, there’s not a lot of wiggle room, so employers had to learn to let their employees get their work done in a way that worked best for them.
Initially, it was thought that working from home would be temporary. Instead, it has become a long-term necessity, and it has likely changed the way we do business forever. Businesses and employees alike have had to get creative. Not only with scheduling, but with how work can get accomplished virtually as opposed to in person. Employee engagement has taken on an entirely new meaning with businesses more focused than ever on keeping their employees happy. Successful businesses have low turnover ratios and one of the keys to keeping employees on staff is to keep them happy and engaged.
Some of the ways businesses have gone outside the box is by hosting virtual office parties, virtual happy hours, virtual games and team building. Businesses have also gotten creative with internal systems and processes, being a bit more open to tools that help employees do their jobs which results in less shadow IT instances. Security threats are on the rise and teams are collaborating across lines to solve problems. Higher ups in general are more willing and open to ideas that could be beneficial or solve a lingering problem that maybe wasn’t a major issue before, but now it is.
Here at PWV, we’ve always had remote positions. We understand the benefits and why it’s important to offer, and we’re excited that other businesses are learning the same lessons. Because of COVID, we have the potential to see certain positions remain remote on a permanent basis, employers recognizing the need for people to have that flexibility. And businesses realizing they can expand their talent pools geographically and philosophically. It also opens up the door for people who previously could not work due situations and circumstances like having to stay home to care for a sick child or elderly parent, anyone with a disability that prohibits them from a daily commute, people with invisible illnesses like multiple sclerosis or lupus. Anyone who was previously unable to work outside the home due to factors outside their control can now be part of the global workforce and have the opportunity to make a difference.
COVID-19 came with a lot of negatives. Humans thrive on physical social interaction and virtual meetings really don’t cut it, the economy has taken a hit, unemployment spiked and more. But there are also some positives that came from this pandemic. Outside the box thinking. Flexibility. Adaptability. Advances in technology and more. Everything combined makes it clear that the way businesses are run has changed forever. And that’s really not a bad thing.