On the 19th of July, the last step of the roadmap to ease restrictions across the UK was implemented. Some of the coronavirus restrictions have been removed in England, and the UK government’s social distancing guidance no longer applies. So, the “New Normal” is officially here, but what exactly does that look like for employers and employees? This article will discuss how business leaders should adapt to the ‘new normal’ and re-energise their business and staff to re-emerge after a year of pandemic hibernation. It will also discuss how employees can adapt to the new working norm which will likely be very different from pre-covid.

What are the challenges in post-covid19’s new business environment?

Many businesses have always been homeworking, but for those with offices, there is undoubtedly a trend of downsizing office space, allowing more flexible working. Despite the easing of restrictions, many businesses have realised the opportunities and benefits from flexible working, and it is likely that businesses, which do not fully rely on people being in office 5 days a week, will embrace flexible working. Some of the challenges with having employees working from home seen during the covid-19 pandemic are, therefore, likely to continue. So, how exactly will the workplace after covid-19 look like?

With the pandemic, businesses’ reliance on technology has significantly increased as online virtual comms sessions are becoming the norm. When the organisation is happening outside the office, there are more points of failure, such as stable network, working apps and effective communication. The circumstances have forced businesses to quickly adopt new tools to be able to have functioning collaboration between employers, employees and customers. These quick changes in the daily functioning of businesses and people’s inexperience with new sorts of technology have inevitably led to frustration for those normally used to the office environment.

Working remotely, furthermore, leads to a lack of face-to-face interaction. This results in a fear of damaging company culture as this is often established and developed in the informal meetings in hallways, kitchens, or conference rooms. Due to this, businesses need to give some thought to how they are going to keep employees engaged by coming up with solutions to involve employees in non-work-related interactions.

How can business leaders reignite and accelerate the business in a changing, post-coronavirus world?

New challenges are emerging because of the changes in how businesses are run, but there are also ways to minimise these potential issues by realising the opportunities that are created from post-covid.

One way to do this is to embrace new technology. Digital transformation is estimated to have accelerated forward by three to four years during the covid pandemic. This digital transformation means that businesses that are not adapting will be left behind. Actively seeking out opportunities to further develop and move forward in the technologically advanced business environment is, therefore, vital for a business to be successful.

The covid-19 pandemic led to employees and employers realising the many benefits of flexible working. For example, employees have a better chance to have a functioning work-life balance and can be in greater control over their working life. This often translates into increased productivity, motivation and engagement with the employer. Not everyone benefits from working from home but businesses who embrace flexible working by making it possible for the employer to choose where to work, from the office or remotely, are likely to see an increase in productivity.

Additionally, the pandemic has strongly indicated the importance of business resilience. Being prepared for other disruptive events, being flexible and adaptable has proven to be more important than ever. Even though things are looking brighter with regards to covid, there is no telling what the next challenge will be. It is, therefore, vital that businesses are prepared and agile for a new potential challenge for them to have long-term success.

How can employees get back to “normal” when getting back to the office?

When covid emerged, getting used to a new way of working from home was a disruptive change but many people are now enjoying not having to commute to work or being able to finish tasks independently on their terms. Returning to work after covid-19 lockdown can, therefore, seem daunting, not only with regards to the potentially increased health risks but also since most people are now used to the flexibility of working remotely.

Even though most of the covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. The government suggest that businesses should use screens to separate workers, reduce the number of people each person works with, assigning personal workstations to each worker and more. Returning to the office can come with a slight health risk but since businesses are usually very keen to keep their employees healthy, it should not be seen as too worrying.

Moreover, the easing of restrictions comes with many benefits and realising these are a first step for employees to feel comfortable about returning to the office. Many have been struggling with working from home and being productive for several different reasons – it can be family that are around, not having a proper office or decreased motivation or wellbeing when not being surrounded by one’s co-workers. So even though many people might enjoy the comfort of working remotely, returning to the workplace is likely to have positive impacts on productivity and the wellbeing of many employees. Going back to the office after several months of working remotely can of course seem overwhelming but, as mentioned earlier, many businesses are likely to embrace flexible working. Because of this, the easing of restrictions and having the option to work from the office will, in the long run, be a blessing for both business leaders and their employees.

If you have concerns about returning to work after covid-19 as an employee or what steps to prepare for both immediate and long term future as an employer, do not hesitate to reach out to our HR Manager at Jacqui.brown@goodwille.com. Further, keep up to date with the latest government advice here.

Goodwille provides essential business services to foreign-owned businesses looking to enter, grow or scale in the UK, to find out more visit goodwille.com.