While the pandemic lifts in most countries around the world and employees begin their return to work, or soon will, there appears to be a nearly universally-held view that what lies ahead for employees is a work life that takes on some of its pre-pandemic characteristics but is ultimately never quite the exact way it was pre-pandemic.
Worklife is different
Perhaps surprisingly, many employees grew accustomed to working remotely and companies also concluded that remote work structures had challenges they already understood pre-pandemic but also value they only understood as they implemented these remote operational approaches.
In this Fast Company article, the two primary options companies are assessing for their post-pandemic work environments are summarized.
Option #1 – Restoration of pre-pandemic work environment
The first, of course, is a restoration of pre-pandemic work environments with employees fully or at least largely working from the company offices they used pre-pandemic. Some companies, no doubt, will return to that approach.
But others will embrace a very different approach that represents a vast shift in how business is conducted. It involves actually embracing the remote work structure that employees largely warmed up to during the pandemic and that many companies also came to appreciate.
Option #2 – Implement remote work operations
The unforeseen operational necessity to quickly implement remote work operations, on the whole, was initially somewhat intimidating to most organization but most also ultimately found implementing this structure easier than they hypothetically envisioned pre-pandemic.
Additionally, as executives saw that employees were embracing it too and that companies were realizing notable associated savings in operational costs in many cases, the once unthinkable has now become appealing to some organizations: Embrace the remote work structure as a go-forward operational structure even after the clinical basis for this remote structure has passed.
Communication skills are vital
Ultimately, Fast Company contributing writer Avigail Dadone, the chief people officer at software solutions company Diligent, concludes that there whichever route various companies embrace, one thing is undeniable: the development of management and employee communication skills now proves vital whichever approach they take.
Connecting is harder
“It has been hard, in a work setting, for example, to trust that someone is paying attention to what you have to say. The difficulty of achieving even that entry level of trust has made building the deeper connection upon which effective teams thrive even more challenging,” Dadone writes.
Active listening, empathy and trust
That, of course, would be a challenge under any set of workplace circumstances. But this challenge now is elevated further with companies needed to figure out “how to work remotely while building and making people skills, such as open communication, active listening, empathy, and trust, is essential for every leader and business’ success,” she argues.
Soft skills are proving rusty and have never more vital
As company personnel either return to their pre-pandemic office locations or whether they continue in their remote ones, these so-called soft skills, especially both speaking and listening communications skills, are proving rusty at the precise moment when they have never proven more vital.