As we stay at home during this pandemic, some of us have a lot of extra time to think. I certainly have. And I've been pondering how the corporate workplace and culture might change post-COVID 19.
There are a couple of ways this might go. Let's start with the wrong option. Corporations have one goal, to increase profits. I doubt there are many big companies (companies with 500+employees) that have increased their earnings during this crisis. When executives review the damage done to their profit margins, the first thing they will do is look to decrease their payroll.
If you've been lucky enough to work from home, let's hope you excelled in doing so. You may need to prove your worth and flexibility. Make sure you bring receipts showing how you overcame obstacles, helped your team overcome obstacles, hit the ground running with the new situation, etc.
There will be millions of out-of-work Americans seeking new employment. It's going to be a tough job hunt. Express your value. This is no time for modesty. The better option would be that executives have found working from home to be a favorable experience for its employees, clients, and production.
Forcing operations to make this quick shift might result in some good news. If half the corporate workforce could work from home at least 50% of the time, it could benefit companies in terms of real estate. Maybe they could downsize the workplace. Think of the reduction in carbon. It would reduce traffic, commuter-related stress, and create a more balanced work/life experience.
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and companies developing a strategy for getting back to "normal," this is a great time to let your voice be heard. Find a strategy to lobby your supervisor for some percentage of your work to continue from home. Maybe ask them to consider four-day workweeks, where employees work four ten-hour days. This could also reduce traffic and damaging environmental emissions.
There are many alternatives to going back to big, corporate offices where employees are separated by nothing more than short cubical walls, or as we’ve seen emerging in the last decade, large, open environments with no separation at all. It will be up to the employees to illustrate these possibilities before corporate executives consider the first knee-jerk reaction of workforce reduction.
The world has forever changed. No one knows what normal will look like after this is all said and done. But one thing for sure is it will never be the same. So why not offer some creative, progressive solutions that will have additional benefits of stress-reduction, carbon reduction, and a more positive work/life balance that would undoubtedly increase productivity.
Be an advocate for change, not a victim.
Rhonda is the Director of Operations for Hierarchy, Inc. In addition, she has 25+ years of experience in creative operations for many Atlanta-based advertising and marketing agencies, as well as, many in-house Marcom departments. She has published several articles on the future of advertising operations and workflows.