But as the vaccines spread and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to get a little closer, how many of these pandemic changes will last?
While some companies can’t wait to return to “business as usual”, others work from a distance.
Workers have proven that they can be productive at home, so the flexibility in the place where they work is here to stay, experts predict.
Hybrid workforce, in which some workers are in the office while others are away, allows employees to choose what works best for them. This could mean that workers go to the office a few days each week, rotating weeks between work and home or just a few office vacations a year.
“I think there will be few organizations that are 100% remote,” said Erica Volini, global leader in human capital at Deloitte.
“There needs to be new ways to measure productivity and understand what workers are doing,” Volini said. “How you measure when you can’t see them physically and interact with them will be a pretty significant change.”
Going beyond health and teeth
They do not hide the demands that parents face when working from home. And balancing work and home life is undoubtedly difficult: children appear unexpectedly at Zoom meetings. Virtual learning consumes much of the day.
Even after the children return to school, Companies will continue to look for ways to support working parents, according to Melanie Tinto, head of human resources at financial technology service provider Wex.
This could mean additional benefits, such as guidance assistance, financial planning, hotlines for parents, and more mental health benefits for the whole family.
With fewer people entering the office regularly, companies are likely to reassess their real estate needs.
“A lot of companies will end up with too much office space,” said Chester Spatt, a finance professor at Tegper School of Business in Carnegie Mellon. “There will be a major reconfiguration.”
And advantages such as office rooms, chemical cleaning lift and free snacks lose their luster if people spend more time in their home offices.
“The era of table tennis in the office is over,” Volini said.
Companies will likely focus on creating space for more teamwork and collaboration, rather than solo work.
Dropbox is redesigning its office space, and part of it includes removing individual offices to create more space for collaboration.
Patagonia announced plans to move to a more distributed business model earlier this year and then sold its new corporate campus in Bellevue, Washington. Instead, the outdoor retailer intends to have more satellite locations throughout the region.
Employee monitoring of remote workers could increase when things return to normal, said Roshni Raveendhran, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia.
Employee monitoring software can do things like track productivity, block websites, and monitor activity and track keys.
“Companies, especially given the current reality at work, have resorted to a lot of intense electronic monitoring and invested a lot of money in this process,” said Raveendhran.
She added that monitoring could be a slippery slope. “Once organizations invest in monitoring tools and initiate new monitoring practices, it will be easy for them to continue with these practices when things return to normal.”
To avoid this type of oversight affecting employee morale and commitment, Raveendhran said companies should make it “informative” rather than “evaluative”. For example, give employees first access to their data.
“In this way, monitoring itself is perceived as a way to get useful information about someone’s behavior, rather than worrying that they will be judged negatively by their bosses.”