Back to “normal” life for businesses

Business Administration Tutor Paula Williams

Computer Keyboard 2 

We’ve all had to quickly get used to a whole new way of working during the COVID-19 lockdown. But, as we gradually emerge from the restrictions, what does our experience mean for businesses as we head back to “normal” life?

We’ve discovered that a lot of what we do in the traditional office can be achieved at home – meetings can be held over video conferencing or emails often suffice, work can be done online and flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean a downturn in productivity. We’ve also learned that there’s no replacement for the office environment for achieving team results, bouncing ideas of colleagues and getting quick responses to urgent issues by walking over to speak with someone.

There’s no doubt that our experience over the last couple of months will have an impact on our work practices. What will be interesting is the ability and openness of businesses to embrace the best of what the lockdown has taught us, while being cognisant of the potential short-comings.

It’s worthwhile to think about exactly what some of these changes might be and how we might all be working and studying in the months and years to come. For example:

  • We’ve all quickly become used to using technology to communicate – and it turns out Zoom (or your preferred video platform) is a really great way to bring everyone together. Expect to see more of this in the future as it makes sense for businesses to cut back on travel and meeting time if good results can be achieved remotely.
  • If we don’t require people to be at a specific location eight hours a day to carry out their work, we can create employment opportunities for more people. For example, if a solo parent is able to work in the evenings or at weekends to organise their work around childcare, more work options suddenly become available. Flexibility could benefit both employers and employees.
  • We’ve all become much more conscious about hygiene in the workplace and we can expect this to continue with frequent hand-washing and sterilising of communal equipment such as phones, desks and printers becoming more common.
  • While it’s great to be able to work from home, we know there are suddenly more people complaining of sore backs and necks as they set up offices on the kitchen table or spare room. If we do work from home more frequently, we need to be as aware of ergonomic issues as we would be in a traditional office.
  • Managing our time when we work from home is key – without the distractions of nearby colleagues, the water cooler or local coffee shop we can be more productive, but we need to balance that with the dishes, washing and other household distractions.

On balance, there’s a lot to learn from lockdown and how we operate. While we shouldn’t expect working from home to become the norm, there are plenty of examples of how a little more flexibility and openness to change could benefit both businesses and staff.