By Dedra Perlmutter, Senior Career Coach & Human Resources Manager
It has been over a year, are you ready to go back?
Most of us are not. USA Today recently noted: “Forty percent of Americans prefer to work from home full-time, compared with 35 percent who seek a home-office hybrid and 25 percent who want to go back to the office full-time, according to a Harris Poll survey of 2,063 adults May 14-16.”
After all this time of remote work, are you ready to leave your home? Your kids? Your pets? Your casual dress code? What about your daily routine and flexibility?
And more importantly, which decision—home, hybrid, or in-office—will your company make? Does your boss or CEO know the plans yet? In reality, no one knows the best answer yet, not even leadership. They can’t—this workplace revolution has never happened before. But it’s being talked about as on the same level as the tech revolution, or the industrial revolution that moved the West from agriculture-centric to factory-centric. Like these immense changes, the post-COVID workplace may revolutionize the look, feel, and even existence of your workplace, especially if you don’t do manual labor or service work.
The “new normal” may not be the same as the old normal, despite the power of tradition and familiarity. One reason? The efficiency of remote work caught the eye and pocketbook of CEOs. For example, a study by McKinsey & Company in early April found that 60 percent of businesses surveyed in early April said that their new remote sales models “were proving as much (29 percent) or more effective (31 percent) than traditional channels.” That’s 60 percent on the side of remote work being as good as or better than before the pandemic.
In addition, because of the drastic nature of the pandemic, companies from start-ups to stolid giants were forced to be innovative, flexible, and agile. That is good for you as an employee, because that attention to flexibility may remain, having proved its worth. It may mean employees get more choices, across a far wider range than previously thought possible.
Are the lines of communication open?
These days, many thought leaders who advise employers recommend consulting with you, the employee as they plan for their futures. Employees want to be heard and employers are listening. Together, they are working through the numerous questions and individual scenarios that will result in a positive transition to the “new normal.” Since there are no correct answers, employees do have power to influence change. Speak to your peers, your manager, and HR, to let them know how you feel and what kind of workplace you would prefer. Respond to a survey if you are sent one on this issue.
The “new normal” may actually be, for some, the “old normal.” But, for many, “the workplace” may have a brand new definition. How collaboration, creativity, socializing and team-building happen may change. And you will be part of this revolution, just by working. The one thing we can all agree on is that flexibility, for companies and for employees, will be key to the “new normal” at work.