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Will COVID-19 Change the Way We Work Forever?

Sunday July 26, 2020

You might be asking yourself if the way people live, work, and interact with each other will change due to the pandemic. The following article from The Atlantic encourages humanity to embrace a more optimistic outlook for the future:

(1) Humans are resilient
“Humanity has endured fires, droughts, civil wars, world wars, earthquakes, terrorism, famines, floods, killer bees, Honey Boo Boo, and near nuclear annihilation.”

(2) Humans always bounce back
“We rebuilt San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. We rebuilt Chicago after the great fire. We rebuilt Dresden, Warsaw, Hiroshima, Nagasaki. We grieve, adapt, endure, progress. And frequently we thrive. The Black Death was followed by the Renaissance. The 1918 pandemic was followed by the Roaring Twenties.”

(3) Humans transform and grow
“Trauma can even be transformative. Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress, but the more common reaction is post-traumatic growth (PTG), when people thrive after enduring a negative life-changing event. In one study, more than half of trauma survivors said they felt stronger after their experience and had gained a new appreciation for life.”

What does this mean for the future of work? COVID-19 triggered a major shift to remote work and removed the stigma that was previously associated with working from home. People had to come together to form new norms and learn to collaborate in new ways. As a result, many teams were able to maintain and improve their productivity. Companies uncovered additional sources of savings and economic benefits.

Having experienced this transformation, organizations are rethinking their operating models. A recent Gartner survey reveals that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely some of the time after the pandemic. 47% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely all of the time.

The question now facing many leaders is how to manage their remote and hybrid workforces. Surprisingly, just 13% of managers voiced concerns over sustaining productivity. What worries these leaders the most is maintaining company and team culture. Loss of culture is perceived as one of the critical risks for the long-term organizational health and performance. 

What are the implications for teams?

Remote work has benefits but requires new strategies for nurturing team culture. Team leaders need to ask themselves: “How will I make sure that my team and I use the COVID-19 experience as an opportunity to transform and grow? How do we realize the uncovered potential of remote work?”