The office will never be the same. Neither will the employees that once inhabited it. COVID shifted the way many envision their jobs and their lives. And those who want to go back to the way life once was are going to be sorely disappointed.
In this week's Wall Street Journal's article, Sorry, Bosses: Workers Are Just Not That Into You, one employee was quoted that he's not interested in getting on a train for free bagels. In fact, he found something better - a remote job that allowed him to move to Puerto Rico with his family. COVID gave us time with our families, with our spouses, and even with our pets. It allowed families to cook meals at home, eat together, and finish the day enjoying each other's company rather than exhausted from a long commute. People don't want to lose that.
Case in point, just this last week I had a valued employee ask me if she could pursue looking for a house in South Carolina and work remotely. My first reaction was I didn't want to lose her in the office. But then I needed to ask why...most of the time everyone is running in different directions and we don't all spend that much time together. I had to admit I just liked having her around, but that wasn't enough to place a roadblock between her and her dreams. I worried about continuing to embrace our culture, but we agreed she could visit bi-monthly to do what "face-time" work we needed. COVID taught both of us there existed a compromise.
Most companies have faced the fact that the normal five-day work week no longer exists. People want a better work-life balance. They see a three day office schedule as a means to move further away for not only affordable housing, but better living conditions. In fact, this trend has been coined "The Great Resignation" as record numbers of workers quit their jobs.
Perhaps COVID gave us all a taste of PSTD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) as many of us lost family, loved ones, and friends. We dealt with sadness, fear, anger and hopelessness. Parents of young children juggled in unimaginable ways. Our hero health-care workers gave all they had and then gave more. We exited the worst of it to a world of inflation and war. It's no wonder people want to find their slice of Camelot. And while Camelot may be fictional, the quest for peace, happiness, and calm is not.
The change to the workplace is not necessarily a bad thing. We now can harness talent and resources miles away from where we are. Even countries away. This new flexibility allows us to tap into employees that were once untouchable. It allows us to mold our workplace into a sought-after company to work for. Take the changes that have occurred, embrace them, use them, and find the way to make you and your company the very best it can be.