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Is your workplace ready for post-COVID-19?

Sooner or later, we will get past this COVID-19 pandemic.

It may not happen tomorrow or next week. But data from all around the world suggests it will happen as some cities are gradually opening up and returning to their normal lives.

However, the question on many minds is what will ‘normal’ look like when the pandemic has been subdued? Term “new normal” is being used to describe the change we will experience. According to Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, in an article titled, “Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How.” “The comfort of being in the presence of others might be replaced by a greater comfort with absence, especially with those we don’t know intimately. Instead of asking, ‘Is there a reason to do this online?’ we’ll be asking, ‘Is there any good reason to do this in person?’” This ideology has gradually seeped into the workplace and is changing how companies interact with clients and business prospects, along with overall daily operations. A more virtual workplace means there will be a higher demand for IT departments of organizations to deliver.

This new demand can create challenges, but also has advantages to today’s workplace.

Here are a few areas that our workplaces will experience changes:

Operational changes

A more virtual workplace will spell a change in the daily running of the office. Even if the majority of workers still work from the office, some methods, meetings, and events would most likely shift to virtual – resulting in a combination of advantages and challenges.

Operating virtually on one hand can create efficiency. However, it does come with its obstacles as well –not only in terms of the capacity of organizations’ hardware and infrastructure to sustain the digital load but also in areas like employee engagement and culture. Many companies already have high numbers of remote or home-based workers and experience the challenge of creating relationships, bonds, and synergy between employees and the company.

A virtual work environment can pose a problem for employees, especially the outgoing and social ones once the everyday face-to-face interactions with co-workers and customers are cut off. The concept of working remotely and having digital meetings is nothing new. But after COVID-19, it’s likely to become the order of the day. The argument can be made that the COVID-19 pandemic has rushed the workforce farther down into the future. As a colleague would say, “never waste a good crisis.” One of the benefits of COVID-19 to our world is that it is pressure testing and accelerating changes in many areas of society.

Interactions with customers

Perhaps the trickiest aspect of the work-from-home situation will be how companies engage with their clients and prospects. The traditional face-to-face meeting has been the norm and is sometimes seen as more ‘courteous’ when signing a deal than a video chat or phone call. However, the efficiency of those calls versus the time spent commuting to meet clients has become more appreciated by both parties.

Some companies are providing their employees with videoconference training sessions to aid sales and retain cordial relationships with clients, prospects, and others. Striking the balance between the in-person and virtual meetings is key.

IT on the frontlines

How efficient – or inefficient – a company is with their technology won’t just depend on the infrastructure and tech available, but on the IT staff as well. Before the pandemic, the IT team is mostly known to employees as the person to call when you’ve forgotten your password, or your computer won’t connect to the internet or printer. But those same IT teams are now at the frontlines. They are the ones who will build, create, and maintain the tools that will allow a company’s employees to be productive with their technology.

They’re also the ones who keep up with cyber-security policies stay up to date on the latest anti-hacking technology. In a more virtual workplace, the IT department becomes much more vital to a company’s success or failure.

Is your company prepared?

Our generation has never seen an event like this that drastically changed our day-to-day lives and how we get work done. How the workplace will change once this pandemic is over and if the world will go back to normal is yet to be seen. However, the new normal will likely include a shift in employee and employer preferences – and the expectation of a more virtual workplace.

Again we ask, “Is your company prepared?”