In a few short months, our work lives have changed dramatically and for most people who work in an office setting or travel for their career, things will be very different for years to come. In the last blog I reviewed some of the “new normal” trends we will see in the workplace. Here are more changes we can anticipate:
A more equitable workplace for women –
Now that many organizations are being forced to operate remotely, workplace flexibility could be here for the long-term. This helps working women to thrive because it enhances their ability to effectively balance home, family, and work life.
According to a 2019 FlexJobs survey of more than 2,000 women with children under 18, approximately 31% of women who took a break in their career after having children did so, not because they wanted to, but because the absence of employer flexibility prevented them from staying in the workforce. Taking a career break for family, according to PayScale, can easily cost women tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages, potential wage growth, and lost retirement and Social Security contributions.
An added bonus is that this more flexible work culture can create better equity at home because both men and women can spend quality time with their families.
Medical screening on-the-job could become the norm –
In many cases it’s already happening. To fight the spread of coronavirus, some of the largest employers in the country, including Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and Starbucks have begun taking the temperatures of their employees before they are allowed to work. Health and legal experts foresee that on-the-job medical screening including temperature checks and antibody tests will be a reality for those who return to work in the near future.
We are already seeing temperature screening in many places. I even had my temperature taken when I went to get a pedicure recently.
Employers are legally permitted to check employees’ temperatures as long as they don’t discriminate. They can’t pick and choose who is tested, they must test everyone.
Work relationships may become stronger –
Friendships in the workplace could flourish among colleagues who came to rely on each other and got to know one another on a more personal level during the pandemic.
For years now we’ve taken for granted the ability to see our coworkers every day and maybe didn’t realize how valuable that was. Teams will have the opportunity to be closer when they’re able to move back into the workplace or come into the office for occasional in person meetings. Colleagues may be more interested in having lunch together rather than a solo lunch at their desk. They can eat alone at home. But in the office, engaging with each other will become more meaningful.
One social interaction that may be gone forever is the handshake. It could be replaced with a gesture, such as a smile or a nod, that conveys respect and friendliness from a distance. Or maybe an elbow bump between colleagues from time to time.
Fashionable face masks are becoming wardrobe staple –
Face masks are, for the foreseeable future, a socially and/or state mandated necessity. Wearing a face mask around the office will likely become commonplace, especially in larger organizations where more workers share office space. This is an opportunity for the fashion industry to innovate how to make masks more protective, comfortable and stylish!
Women will want to have multiple masks in rotation especially if it becomes the long-term norm. Having a mask that matches or coordinates with your outfit will become an important accessory. Because a mask is a dominate feature on your face, part of planning an outfit will now include considering which mask to wear. Women will replace their lipstick budget with a face mask budget.
There will be many more changes that we haven’t yet thought of – some for the better, some not. What trends do you see happening right now in your workplace?
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