The new work life post Covid - what to expect?

While Canada continues the battle against the global Covid-19 pandemic, some Canadian provinces have relaxed their lockdown restrictions as they gear up to reopen with a ‘new normal.’

There is no doubt that the world post Covid will be much different, especially with regard to your workplace. As an employee, the average Canadian workplace will look, feel and operate much differently when you return from the quarantine.  

Read on to know how…

1) Combating resurgence by continued social distancing

One of the key concerns for Canadians will be avoiding a second wave of Covid-19. Thus, as businesses gear up to reopen, you may find special emphasis being laid on facilitating social distancing as your health remains an important concern for your employers. This will mean several structural and design changes may be implemented in your ‘new’ old workplace.

Before Covid you may have sat at work in an open workspace and sharing your desk with your team members. Post Covid, it is likely that you will sit a few feet apart from your desk colleagues.

Another quick change that many employees may have to adapt to is following the safe distance markings and directions as marked on floors. You may be familiar with this already as many supermarkets have already implemented this technique and extending it to workspaces is a logical step for a safer environment.  

To keep Canadians working, many employers are readjusting working hours and even offering an option of Work from Home (WFH) to ensure that offices are not overcrowded. It will be easier to manage work and family commitments with work hour flexibility.

Your organization may insist on everyone wearing masks. If so, get familiar with the best practices of wearing masks so you can protect yourself and others.

Various articles suggest that physical distancing measures will persist until a vaccine is readily available.-Tourism HR Canada

2) Focus on health & safety using technology

Your health and safety will be a top priority for your employer and technology will play an important role in ensuring it.

Most of us may already be using fingerprint access or card access to get in our office buildings, elevators or specific work rooms. To make these access points even safer, touches-less technologies will be adopted by many workplaces. On your first day of work post Covid, you may find that finger scanners are replaced with new touch-less technologies like face scans, voice recognition or proximity sensors that will eliminate risk of surface contact for you.

To ensure your continued safety, employers may also implement random testing of visitors and employees, using devices like a thermometer gun, to protect employees from asymptomatic individuals.

Another important change you may notice is, getting regular notifications regarding post Covid precautions through automated systems (mails, intranet, public address systems). You may be reminded to wash hands during your workday and maintain safe social distance along with other safe practices. These reminders will encourage you to practice good hygiene even when you are busy working in offices. 

Going forward, sharing of computer systems and accessories will be discouraged. Some employees may have access to individual systems and set of required hardware that will be exclusive for them to use. This will help to eliminate the probability of contacting contaminated surfaces.

Emails, chats and intranet may become the popular communication channels as employees will be encouraged to avoid physical proximity with large group of individuals. You may also notice many virtual team meetings will take precedence over physical gatherings in confined boardrooms, so that you can safely practice social distancing from the comfort of your home or work desk.

3) Operational changes

If you are one of those who love having lunch and coffee breaks with your teammates, it may be advisable to limit those for now. Your company may initiate staggered breaks with a few team members only to ensure everyone’s safety by maintaining a 2-metre distance.

Clients and visitors entering the office space may have to undergo quick temperature checks or follow sanitizing norms before interacting with your team. If so, you will want to communicate these measures to them beforehand. Many buildings may also enforce limited elevator occupants to facilitate social distancing and it may mean that you have to have an extra 5 minutes in hand during busy times.

It is possible that your workplace will also implement increased instances of cleaning and sanitizing surfaces regularly. Make sure to adjust your work and schedule so that you can benefit from the extensive cleaning routines and your work space remains clean and safe. You can also consider adding a sanitizer and disposable masks to your work desk for additional precaution.

Joining a new job work during Covid or immediately afterward?

Your first day at work may involve learning new procedures and norms regarding expected best practices against Covid. These may include, cleaning and wiping norms for work stations and equipments, wearing masks and gloves during office hours etc.

When it comes to business travel, many companies are redefining business travel requirements for their employees.  If you are in a business development or sales role, it is likely that extensive travel may be replaced with more virtual meetings.

 This will bring some changes in the way you interact with clients and business partners. For instance, you will have to ensure your communication hardware and software are up to date and working at all times.

More than three in five Canadians (63%) told us they expect more companies to phase out business travel in favour of teleconferencing once the COVID-19 outbreak ends.- Research Co. and Glacier Media

4) Policy changes

With over five million Canadians Working From Home during the pandemic, it was one of the most disruptive changes for many organizations in history. If you were working in an organization where there was no WFH policy in place, in the post Covid era, it is likely that you may have a WFH option as businesses are adapting to the new reality, making organization-wide policy changes.

Almost 3 out of 4 Canadians (73%) expect more people to work from home than before once the COVID-19 outbreak ends.- Research Co. and Glacier Media

It is also expected that your workplace will lay special emphasis on following the federal guidelines pertaining to workplace health and safety practices post Covid. Thus, you may receive regular communication from your HR team about information regarding Covid testing practices, need for random checkups, and disciplinary actions if norms pertaining to social distancing are not followed, etc.  You may be asked about your mental health and the status of others in your household. In addition, you may be asked to self-quarantine, WFH or even get tested by a medical professional, if you experience Covid-like symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has. If you are a new employee, it is possible that you may now need to provide a proof of your health and wellness before entering office space, e.g. fitness certificate from a doctor. This will ensure that you and those working with you are kept safe.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, told workers during a staff meeting that was live streamed on his Facebook page that within a decade as many as half of the company’s more than 48,000 employees would work from home.- NY Times

What does all this mean? Never before have employers and government offices invested so many resources into the physical and mental health of its employees. There is no doubt that the pandemic will change the workplace experience forever. Its far fetching implications on businesses across the world remain to be seen you will experience a safer, healthier and different workplace in a “never before” way.