According to research by the Great Place to Work Institute, 50% of Fortune 500 executives believe remote work has not affected productivity, while 30% report increased productivity. Twenty percent reported mixed results. Based on the favorable numbers, we can assume that remote work, in some capacity, is here to stay. Some offices could go fully remote, while others may adopt a hybrid approach — and those that choose to keep a physical workplace are wondering what their offices will look like post-pandemic.
Understanding how the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, and the shelter-in-place mandates that followed, continues to affect the workplace will help companies maintain strong relationships with their employees, a tight-knit company culture, and productive workspaces for remote and in-person employees. Now that the fog of uncertainty is lifting, we’re seeing significant shifts, and COVID precautions will be an ongoing presence. Everything from HR policies to employee-employer relationships to office layouts are changing.
The New Workplace
To foster a productive remote workforce, companies are exploring new benefits to offer employees. This often includes paying for co-working spaces so workers without home offices can have a designated place to focus. But there’s more. In an effort to boost morale, lifestyle and wellness benefits are being re-imagined.
Health benefits have more weight
Seventy-seven percent of workers now view benefits packages as key components of their compensation, up from 67% in 2019. Many organizations were already integrating wellness perks into their health benefits packages, but the pandemic brought with it a newfound prioritization of mental and physical health, making those perks even more important.
Mental health becomes a concern
The pandemic highlighted the effects of anxiety on employees’ lives and work. Just as a benefits package may include chiropractic care or acupuncture, they are starting to incorporate mental health programs such as meditation app subscriptions or therapy sessions. HR programs are starting to include more frequent check-ins with employees. And because remote workers are at a higher risk of feeling isolated, employers are increasingly facilitating virtual meetings and social interactions.
Financial health provides more security
The global economy was devastated by the pandemic, and many peoples’ financial wellness took a hit as a result. Millions of workers felt the weight of this downturn. Employees’ financial health can affect their overall well-being, and it can also impact a company’s bottom line; increased anxiety leads to reduced productivity and higher rates of absenteeism.
As a result, financial literacy programs are being implemented on a wider scale. Access to paid financial apps and e-learning opportunities are on the rise. Since 70% of workers do not have a written financial plan, many larger companies now offer private sessions with financial advisors to help prepare employees for unpredictable situations.
Workplace Testing and Management
Rethinking benefits packages is one thing, but the most definite and universal change in the post-pandemic world will be ensuring workplace safety. That’s where a proactive set of holistic policies around testing and COVID management comes in.
COVID testing and screening are top priorities, as they affect who can get through the door of any workplace. Employers need protocol around when workers can return to work if they test positive and actionable steps to take after potential exposure.
Employers are carefully evaluating the types of tests available as well as the appropriate testing frequency. For example, those who regularly come into contact with the public or can’t maintain social distancing in their workplace may require more frequent testing.
Companies with these proactive measures in place are relying on complete COVID testing systems.
Brio, for example, has an efficient and user-friendly platform. It is HIPAA compliant, meaning that it operates in accordance with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s privacy and security standards. Plus, custom dashboard allows employers to view and understand results company-wide, and individually.
As we continue to rebuild the economy in a post-pandemic world, the future is coming into focus. New trends are on the rise, and the concept of a physical office is now being reimagined. How do employers create socially distanced collaborative work environments?
Some employers are purchasing remote work software to encourage a more streamlined exchange of ideas. Examining social interaction in physical and remote workplaces will be an ongoing conversation. Offices used to have small gatherings and celebrations, breakroom exchanges, and lunchtime chit-chat. These were important ways that employees could speak freely and casually brainstorm ways to solve day-to-day challenges.
With the silo of the remote work environment, companies are eager to keep conversations, both personal and professional, alive. For example, instead of one large break room, some organizations may turn to breakout rooms with video conferencing screens so in-person and remote teams can collaborate.
COVID in the Workplace
COVID in the workplace is new, but its impact goes far beyond the virus itself. The changes it has forced on the global workforce are creating a new chapter of corporate America. Benefits packages are being redefined. Companies are implementing screenings, and health tests are bringing HIPAA and other compliance concerns to the forefront. HR leaders have to anticipate difficult conversations with employees about their health — physical, mental, emotional, and financial.
The best way to continue forward is to prioritize COVID precautions and be proactive and adaptable. Consider how you can adjust to the needs of employees and clients, and invest in valuable testing procedures that keep your workforce safe and healthy.
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