Remaining Professional in Pajamas
COVID-19’s Impact on Returning to the Office
Many people are uncovering a startling and thought provoking realization: it’s actually feasible to work from home.
Over the past three months, millions have had to maneuver the workplace into their home, blurring the boundaries of work and leisure more than ever before. As people have begun to grow accustomed to working from home, it’s interesting and important to consider how the eventual transition back into offices will effectively look like.
At home, many have the opportunity to connect with their loved ones throughout some of the more stressful aspects of work, while also being able to remain comfortable in their office and attire of choice. This inherent duality of professionalism and respecting personal space arising out of the work from home dilemma has allowed workers to realize that they might not want to return to the office. Based on a survey of 2000 American workers conducted on May 14th, 64% of Americans claimed that they would be uncomfortable returning to the office in the next 30 days or more.
Since the survey’s initial polling, COVID-19 has continued to hinder the return to the office. Primarily because of the safety concerns for workers themselves and risks they might pose to their families at home.
Many businesses and services deemed essential by the government have created as safe an environment as possible by following the mandated procedures and adhering to the correct social distancing policies. However, this isn’t feasible for all workplaces, especially when it comes to highly concentrated office buildings.
The Problems with Returning to the Downtown Core
One of the largest complaints people have about returning to office buildings is the logistical nightmare of the elevator system. With some buildings in the downtown core towering over 50 stories tall, and thousands of employees relying on the elevator to get them to their respective locations in the building, the elevator is for most employees the only way they can access their workplace.
There is also the concern of management teams identifying which groups of workers are deemed to be the first group needed to be back in the office, while also having to find people within that group who are willing to go back whilst the pandemic is still at large. With COVID-19 still remaining as a threat to any form of social gatherings, people are wondering about the logistical safety measures that will have to be in place in order to deem the office a safe place to work. Many of these concerns even include the shared facilities workers have become reliant on inside of the actual offices, including; bathrooms, shared kitchens and appliances, sharing desks or company devices, and many others. Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business stated in a CNBC article that there is a large backlog of services which people have been desperate to access since the beginning of quarantine – such as healthcare, dentists, barbers – but Gordon claims that even getting beyond the peak of COVID-19 cases won’t be enough for people to feel comfortable returning to these services nor workers to feel comfortable in their own offices again. Rather, the number of new cases will have to drop to nearly zero for the public to become comfortable with sharing both the office space and the building with the general public again.
Finally, there is the commuting concern: With fear of public transit being an easy way to spread disease within a confined space, many are left wondering what it will take for them to feel comfortable again to ride a bus or subway. Based on the 2016 Canadian Census, 12% of workers in the Toronto take on average a forty-minute long transit commute every day to and from the office, with an additional 12% of workers carpooling with members outside of their own family, making almost a quarter of the workforce dependent on riding to and from work whilst sharing a confined space for a long period of time.
The Longevity of Home Officing
According to the Harvard Business Review in 2019, Approximately 43% of the American workforce has successfully performed some aspect of their job from a remote location of their choosing, and with the recent migration to work-from-home conditions, that number is likely to have skyrocketed. One of the main appeals of the office workspace is that everyone is under one roof and working as a cohesive unit for their company, which can account for employee productivity by just being in a professional setting, as well as having more direct access to company resources throughout the course of the workday.
With so many workers now adopting this model, and more people being able to realize its potential when asked to report into the office, it is interesting to see where the future of office space will continue to take us as our return to normalcy becomes more elongated. It’s important that we try and maintain a sense of normalcy through our business interactions in the home office, even if it’s over a virtual medium for the time being. One thing that can help you continue to maintain that reliable face-to-face engagement with your customers and professionals while distanced is through Coconut’s services such as virtual meetings; offering real customer connections over a reliable platform.
Cloud based appointment scheduling software and virtual meeting methods like phone and video, provided by companies like Coconut, ensures that making and maintaining connections with clients and prospects is more accessible than ever before. Through a seamless integration with video conferencing providers such as Zoom and Google Meet, customers are able to schedule their virtual meetings quickly and intuitively, maintaining your personal connections virtually.
With many wondering where the hybrid model will take us, whether it be from the dining room table to the kitchen or the home to the office, one thing is for certain. Our solutions and team are working together to empower your connections across our digital platforms. We hope you stay safe and connected.