While everyone is holding their breath and waiting for everything to return to normal, the world is moving on. And in many important ways, a return to business as usual will be anything but. There will be nothing normal about the new normal, whenever that condition is achieved. Read on to find why post lockdown business will not be as usual.
Right now, we are in a place that can only be seen as the interim. The meantime has never been so mean. We are in the middle of a pandemic that shows no sign of stopping. It is rather optimistic to even categorize this as the middle. Many experts believe the worst is yet to come.
We are also in a time when people who were comfortably employed at the beginning of the year are near destitute as the year draws to an end. Savings accounts have been long drained and forgotten. A lot of college funds will be starting from zero once this is all over.
What will business look like? Right now, there are huge question marks hanging over entire industries. It is not clear if there will be theaters when this is all over. Shopping malls are practically ghost towns as we approach one of the blackest Fridays in retail history. Businesses will be doing all they can just to survive the crisis. What will post lockdown business look like once this is all over? Here are a few thoughts:
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A Focus on Productivity
Post-covid, a lot of businesses will find themselves behind where they would have been without the pandemic. It has slowed our progress and thrown off projections in all industries where productivity is projected and measured. There will be an understandable focus on making up for lost time and finding innovative ways to increase productivity.
One of the more innovative ways to do that is providing high-tech exoskeleton suits that help workers augment their natural capacity so they can do more with less wear and tear. These suits can be fitted with specific tools for the job. This increases efficiency because, while the exoskeleton has those tools at the ready, the operator still has use of their hands to do other things.
Some processes can be enhanced by just throwing more people at the job. But highly complex jobs requiring specialized knowledge and skill will not be improved by adding more people. An advanced exoskeleton suit can give that specialist the power to do more with less downtime due to injury. Increased productivity is the inevitable result.
One of the more unfortunate secondary effects of the pandemic was an immediate rise in alcohol and substance use. According to a study from Washington State University, alcohol use changed right after covid with 1 in 4 experiencing that change right after lockdown. It was 1 in 5 in the UK.
Some percentage of those people will have a longer road to recovery than others. The problem might also be compounded by problems with depression. They will still need to return to work. It is important that companies are prepared to address addiction and accommodate additional medical needs these workers might have. One of the most important things we can do as a society is eliminate the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorder. This will affect many returning workers, and will be a going concern for businesses for the foreseeable future.
Open Plan Offices Will Have to Be Reevaluated
Whoever thought open plan workspaces were a good idea didn’t consult actual office workers. It is the kind of brainchild that could only come from a person who never had to do their job in such a space. Long before the pandemic, there were intense misgivings from workers about open plan work spaces.
One of the challenges is noise. It is harder to concentrate with so much noise. Phone calls are more difficult. There is also the lack of privacy. It is not that everyone wants to have a corner office. But the three walls of a cube were more than sufficient for most. The pandemic has also taught us that viruses are more easily spread with no separation between workers.
It might be cheaper to just throw some tables in the middle of a warehouse and call it an office. But it is not better. The attempt to exert more control over workers has resulted in less control. And putting everyone in the fish tank just creates a lot of sick fish.
Post lockdown business will come back. But it will be different by necessity. The successful businesses will have a renewed focus on accessibility, a better understanding of how to deal with substance use disorder, and a new plan that is not an open plan.