We are facing a new period of “office life” with many companies forced to change habits of a lifetime. Employee interaction, leadership, and meetings are all taking on a new form in this period of uncertainty. Though it is currently undetermined how long we will be in isolation, many of these new habits may permeate into post-lockdown life, shaping many of our workplace behaviours.
Gone are the days of the handshake. Hand to hand contact? Impossible. Say hello to the new era of elbow-bumping. If it is good enough for Prince Harry, it is good enough for you and your colleagues. When signing a contract or closing a merger, elbow-bumping may just be the new reality of inter-colleague contact.
Paying office overheads
In a time where working from home has become the norm, companies may explore the option of working from home on a more permanent basis. Avoiding expensive office overheads may be an incentive for many companies to embrace more flexible working including remote working and co-working spaces.
Over recent weeks, conference calls and digital meeting rooms have become the new reality of meetings. Aside from the odd technical difficulty and broken web-cam, this is becoming a very viable alternative to the classic face-to-face meeting. And who doesn’t love wearing pyjama bottoms under their suit and tie?
Brits are known for their stoicism, bravely facing the long commute and struggling manfully through a working day stifling coughs and sneezes. However, with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, anyone showing the slightest symptom has been encouraged to remain far away from the office. This may be prophetic for future working days with people becoming more overcautious about occupying office space when sick.
Public transport has been flagged as a high-risk zone, with the Mayor of London imploring city-dwellers to only take public transport if absolutely unavoidable. Commuting is a part of daily life for the majority of city workers; however, this time working from home may have been a welcomed break from the stifling train journeys and being packed in like a sardine. At the end of this isolation period, many commuters may realise that a commute-free life, and that extra hour or two per day, may be something that they miss.
Whether this seems like something out of a dystopian novel or something that we will be embracing with open arms, we are definitely in a time of change for workplace habits and behaviours.