There will those who have developed new expectations of work and those who will be desperate to get back into work.
How will it play out?
There is little doubt that many feel frustrated by the length of time the pandemic is limiting the performance of the business. It seems strange now to look back to March and even the initial idea of a 3-week lockdown. Most then expected to be out by June and for the recovery process to have begun by September.
Of course, that time has passed and most are forecasting a return to some level of normality in the Spring of 2021. Some companies are not expecting to see their employees return until late 2021. The recovery process is now forecast to take until 2023 until real trading levels can be returned.
The real fears beginning to dominate minds have turned to colleagues lost. Many talk of some exceptional talents who one would never believe would be out of work now leaving companies through redundancy. Many talk of the knowledge being lost and how it will impact on customers and clients. Many companies are beginning to express their concerns over the fact that behaviours will have changed, that those working at home will naturally have developed new patterns of work which will have accidentally become the expected norm. How long will it take to address this and develop new expectation and patterns? How will one re-engage teams and talent to work effectively together?
To add an extra dimension to the equation, there will be many who will have developed new habits and will not want to return to offices and then those who will be hungry for work, for employment, for purpose. A recent report noted that 30% of those working from home may not have the disciplines to return to the office environment and therefore face new threats to their careers post-pandemic?
Another report noted that this period will have created a whole new level of hunger, and ambition which will naturally see some the concerns and issues which existed pre-pandemic be naturally corrected. There will be even more increased pressures on many of the young and the debts being carried that they will want to work hard to find security.
The challenge will lie in re-engaging teams and disciplines again in workplaces. It will be liking starting afresh and there will need to be new thinking and approaches taken to bring teams together again, to work collaboratively; to bring people back into the workplace in a positive fashion. That planning should start now.
The workplace will need to become a place where people want to be, not a place where people need to be. The more quickly that people can come together and want to be together, the sooner many of the above concerns and fears can be placed away. Offices will need to rethink how they operate. It is not hard to understand that many do not want to spend £600 per month commuting to sit at a screen for long periods of time, feeling alone and isolated. People want interaction. They need interaction. They need relationships, the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
This can all be achieved but the planning for this does need to start now as otherwise there will just as many problems to face post-pandemic which may last for another year beyond.