Once social distancing measures ease, you’ll find yourself returning to a very different workplace. If you thought the rapid transition to remote working was a shock, just wait until you step out of the lift into your office for the first time post-coronavirus.
Continuing physical distancing measures will see your former open-plan office layout replaced with a new seating plan, separated desks and dividers. It will likely lead to you returning to your workplace on a roster system with staggered start and finish times. There will also be fewer in-person meetings and informal brainstorming sessions around a colleague’s computer.
In short, the workplace will be redesigned to keep people further apart than most of us have ever experienced before in our working lives.
Of course, while you will encounter far more in-person interactions with your colleagues compared to your work from home experience, you should expect to wave goodbye to pre-pandemic levels of contact.
So, if you are the type of person who thrives and performs at your best when interacting in-person with your colleagues, such as dropping by their desk to bounce ideas around, and draws your energy from face-to-face conversations at work, you should take the time now to adapt and find alternative measures to motivate your best efforts in the post-COVID-19 workplace.
To prepare, here’s what you need to consider.
Firstly, you should expect your office space to look very different. To comply with continued physical distancing measures, your employer will have reconfigured seating plans and moved desks apart to separate people. You may even find yourself further separated from colleagues by partitions.
Hot-desking, where several employees use a single work station at different times, will also go by the wayside as employers assign employees their own equipment and look to reduce the number of shared touchpoints people come into contact with on a daily basis.
In addition, you’ll no longer be able to sit and chat with colleagues in a break-out area or a communal kitchen table.
By keeping staff physically distant, there will be fewer opportunities for in-person conversations. You can no longer simply look up from your monitor and ask a quick question, for example, or roll your chair over to your colleague’s desk to talk through an idea. Neither can you crowd into a meeting room for an in-person consultation with all your teammates.
Organisations will transition their workforce back into the office in stages to reduce density in the workplace. A roster system is the most likely strategy to begin with, which will see you continuing to work from home on certain days and coming into the office on others. This means you’ll only initially see those colleagues who are rostered to work in the office on the same day or days as you.
Employers may also adopt staggered start and finish times to further reduce the number of employees gathering at the lift at the beginning and end of each day.
In addition, many people are expected to ask to continue to work from home after the pandemic, even once restrictions lift and employees can return fulltime to the office. With widespread understanding that employees can work successfully from home, hybrid teams will become common.
As a result, the notion of having all your colleagues in the one co-located workplace all the time is a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll need to become comfortable operating in a hybrid team where face-to-face interactions with all your team members occurs far less frequently.
Together, these changes result in a less interactive environment. Chances are you’ll either relish or loath this change. After all, all workplaces consist of people with a mixture of working styles. Some people shine in a collaborative, team-based environment where they can seek out in-person social stimulation, think out loud with others and brainstorm together at their desk.
In contrast, the introverts in your workplace thrive when working on individual tasks, value privacy, like to make their own decisions rather than consult a group, and come up with their best ideas after contemplating a problem on their own.
The latter group will welcome these workplace changes, while the former will miss the hustle and bustle of a full office, the opportunity to drop by their colleague’s desk to bounce ideas around and the chance to work closely with others in a group setting. So, if you have previously thrived in a social, connected and collaborative environment, you will need to find new ways to keep your motivation, energy and output high.
For further tips on how to care for your health and wellbeing, this advice is still relevant while everyone keeps their distance.
To sum up, if you are someone who naturally performs at your best when interacting in-person with others, these tips should help you find new ways to keep your motivation, energy and output high in today’s modified workplace.
Sure, you won’t be pulling your chair up to a colleague’s desk for a chat or to brainstorm, but you can find alternative measures to bring out your best and interact with others safely in the post-COVID-19 workplace.
Jane McNeill, joined Hays in 1987 as a trainee recruitment consultant in London and is now Managing Director of Hays NSW and WA.
After two years with Hays Jane began managing her own office and quickly took on larger and more diversified teams of people and responsibility for a region in the UK.
In 2001 Jane arrived in Perth , Western Australia and shortly after took over as State Director for WA. After six years of significant business growth she was appointed to the Hays Australia & New Zealand management board in 2007.
In 2012 Jane moved to Sydney and now oversees Hays’ operations in New South Wales with board responsibility for Western Australia.
Jane has an MA in Psychology from Edinburgh University.
Follow Jane on LinkedIn
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