8 Ways Your Office Might Be Different Once You Return to WorkHow will the pandemic change workplaces?

As people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and employers grapple with reopening their offices, many employees are experiencing mixed feelings about returning to work, especially those who are older or have underlying medical conditions. While some look forward to reconnecting with coworkers in person, others may want to keep on working from home at least part-time. As companies decide the best ways to open their offices, the office definitely won't be like it used to be pre-pandemic. Here are eight changes you can expect when you go back:

1. More flexibility and remote work

Employees' behaviors and habits have changed as a result of the pandemic. Though transitioning abruptly to remote work was a huge shift that took time to get used to, most people have adapted well. While some companies are ditching office space altogether, most will maintain their office space and be open to telecommuting and flexible schedules as their offices reopen.

2. Enhanced safety protocols

Many workplaces will have enhanced safety measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission and infection. This may include requiring vaccine records, using apps to report symptoms, conducting wellness screenings, and enforcing social distancing and masks in communal spaces. Your workplace may also deep clean offices more regularly and offer sanitizing products.

3. Additional perks

Because employees are more stressed than ever before, numerous companies are offering additional perks, such as free cleaning services, grocery stipends, and utility reimbursements. Companies are going out of their way to make sure employees feel supported and appreciated.

4. Single serving snacks

There's a big chance that employers are going to cut back on sharing food and beverages. You may see more single-serving snacks and beverages in the office and notice that coffee pots and bulk snacks have disappeared. The rules for communal kitchens at the office may also be different.

5. Fewer meetings

At the beginning of the pandemic, employees found themselves in one Zoom meeting after another. Eventually, Zoom fatigue kicked it, which made it challenging to get anything done with back-to-back meetings. More managers know what that feels like now and are trying to strike a balance to reduce feelings of burnout.

6. More casual dress code

The business world has been headed in a more casual direction for a while now, but the pandemic really sped things up. Many employers will loosen dress code requirements for in-office attire, although you probably won't be allowed to wear sweatpants.

7. Less work travel

This shouldn't come as a big surprise. Employees who traveled a lot for work before the pandemic probably won't be traveling as much as the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. While this won't be forever, there will probably always be a Zoom option for people to attend in-person conferences.

8. Remote work tools

Employees will still most likely be encouraged to use electronic communication methods inside the office to minimize interactions. As such, you may still use video chats or collaboration platforms instead of meeting in a conference room. This is especially true as many companies adopt a hybrid work model.

References
  1. "9 Ways Your Office Might Be Different Once You Return," AARP, May 13, 2021.
  2. "6 Workplace Changes You Can Actually Expect When You Return to the Office," Today, March 29, 2021.

wellness | Workplace | Coronavirus