Medical gloves. Masks. Other protective equipment. Respiratory etiquette. “Safe zones” denoting spots to stand while in elevators or queues. Infrared temperature readings. This is the state of work post-COVID-19.
As countries around the world take steps to reopen their economies, businesses and brands have to think about the above-mentioned things and devise plans for a safe return to the office. Months ago, the whole world scrambled to respond to the popular trend of social distancing. This was done to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Apart from shutting down sports leagues, closing stores and allowing restaurants to only provide take-out service, another tactic for social distancing has been encouraging people to work from home.
As a result, 66% of employees in the USA began working from home, with companies struggling to make this a new reality. They had to think about everything, from video conferencing apps to online training. Although it seemed impossible, they made it work. And they succeeded at reducing some of the adverse consequences the coronavirus had on their businesses.
Now that some countries have eased lockdown measures, companies are faced with another issue — should they reopen their offices? If yes, what kind of strategies can they develop to reduce the risk of COVID-19? These are just some of the questions being tackled behind closed doors of some of the major technology companies like Facebook and Google.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into those companies who have decided to still work from home; regardless of the fact that many countries are easing the measures. This will, in a way, show us the state of work post-COVID-19. Let’s start!
Although there won’t be any need for it after the coronavirus, experts expect that working from home is still going to be a major trend in corporate life. With that in mind, it will probably affect different industries. And it will change the organizational culture that companies have been creating for years. Even though the majority of companies still plan to return to their respective offices, some express reservation. Namely, certain businesses see all the advantages working from home brings to them.
In fact, Joan Burke, the chief people officer of DocuSign, said to the New York Times that working from home is a win-win situation for both companies and employees who are reluctant to commute. Burke emphasized that this was “lost productivity,” proving that work post-COVID-19 might be forever changed. And it seems that a number of tech giants share her opinion.
Specifically, albeit presidents around the world encourage companies to go back to business, much of the corporate world is in no rush to listen to them. In fact, it seems that the companies want to be the last one back, not the first.
A growing number of them have revealed they will extend their work-from-home policies regardless of what their respective countries are advising. Here’s a look at those companies who have decided for this step.
In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed his plan for work post-COVID-19. Namely, he said he would have the majority of employees working from home until the end of May. However, the social media giant has since changed its decision, announcing plans to allow its staff to work from home throughout 2020. Nevertheless, the majority of its offices will open on July 6 and those who decide can return to work on that day.
Zuckerberg said that the reopening date was aimed at a small number of Facebook’s critical employees, especially those working on complex hardware, counter-terrorism, and suicide prevention. Nevertheless, working from home is for now a choice employees can make for themselves. Explaining this decision, Zuckerberg stated that Facebook wanted to help those who were in a vulnerable population.
Furthermore, Facebook will not have any gatherings of over 50 people until July 2021 because of the pandemic. Facebook’s spokesperson said that the tech company reached its decisions after consulting public health data and reviewing government guidelines.
Facebook was one of the first tech companies to start working remotely, with employees leaving the premises in March. Ever since then, it has supported its employees. Namely, it gave them free Portal video-calling devices and allowed them to take time off.
Echoing Facebook’s decision is another tech giant — Google.
At first, Google’s employees expected to work remotely until June 1, with the return to the office set to be done in stages. However, it has now been announced that the company’s workforce will continue to operate remotely for quite some time. To be specific, Google’s work-from-home policy will be in effect for the remainder of 2020.
Like Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also revealed that critical employees can start working from office in June or July. Of course, the company will follow strict safety measures and establish a “different” in-office experience.
Nevertheless, working remotely will still be the new normal for the majority of Google’s employees for at least the next six months. And to assist the staff, the company has asked them to take a day off on May 22. This is Google’s solution for work-from-home burnout that has appeared due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Google started encouraging employees to work from home in early March as COVID-19 began to spread across the USA.
The majority of Silicon Valley companies agree that the work-from-home policies should be in effect for as long as it takes. But another tech giant has taken things to the next level. Working from home until the end of 2020, you say? How about working from home forever, answered Twitter.
With the hashtag #LoveWhereverYouWork, Twitter stated that employees who wanted to work from home could “continue to do so forever.” The announcement, posted on Twitter’s blog, has also revealed that WFH won’t be obligatory, i.e. returning to corporate office will be an option. Although Google and Facebook aim for a June or July return, Twitter seems to be in no rush. In other words, it will allow its employees to return to office in September.
What’s more, Twitter’s decision came after the social media giant revealed that its work-from-home measures proved to be a success. Experts describe the move as “an era-defining moment.” It proves that people can be more productive at home than in the office.
Also, the company has canceled all business travel until September, with in-person events being planned by the end of the year. As for Twitter’s 2021 events, it will assess them in late 2020 and decide whether they will take place.
Like Google and Facebook, Twitter began working from home in March as well.
But what does this WHF forever policy change mean? Well, it suggests that the coronavirus outbreak may have exerted a lasting impact on the corporate world and its practices. So, working post-COVID-19 may still mean working from home.
In only a few months, COVID-19 has changed people’s daily lives. For most, the economic impact of the pandemic has resulted in new categorizations of ‘essential’ employees. This prompted companies to move to remote work. So, following stay-at-home orders around the world, office workers have replaced their daily commutes with getting up and working from their living rooms. And most of them seem to be enjoying the transition, with even Twitter acknowledging that its employees’ productivity has increased.
But what does the future hold for work post-COVID-19?
Well, experts claim that COVID-19 will cause the biggest cultural shift, reducing the amount of time we will be working in close proximity to our colleagues. As people have moved towards remote work, companies have another option. Namely, they can open regional hubs or co-working spaces. This will ensure that only a selected number of employees are in the same place rather than have their whole workforce concentrated at one central office.
So, some predict that the companies that still have the budget may have corporate headquarters. However, others will move towards remote work.
Of course, we are yet to see the long-term impact the coronavirus may have on work. However, judging by Twitter’s decision, it seems that the pandemic has proven to the companies, both large and small, that working from home can easily become the new normal.
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However, our look at the state of work post-COVID-19 doesn’t stop here. Join us tomorrow when we examine those companies that have decided to return to the office. We’ll also mention all the measures they are taking to ensure a safe return. For the time being, we invite you to read our article that helps you navigate your way through the coronavirus pandemic.