February 2, 2021
Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed., is the director of the Office for Student Success at Touro College.
Hopefully, with the rollout of the vaccine, we are finally turning the corner on COVID19. We still have a long way to go and an uncertain future, but I think it is time to start thinking about some of the long-term changes COVID has brought to the work world.
There was a common refrain in July that said that the world of work changed more in the preceding 30 weeks then it had in the last 30 years. I think there is a lot of truth to that assertion, but I must note that many of the voices arguing that the work world has irrevocably changed were the same voices advocating for those exact changes pre-pandemic.
People are resistant to change, and we can be sure that there will be significant pushback to new expectations, but I do think it safe to say there are some changes that are here to stay.
Top 3 Ways the Pandemic Changed the Work World
1) Resilience Is Fundamental: This has been the most difficult and trying times in living memory. While some folks have had to face much more serious challenges than others, all have been challenged.
There will always be challenges in life and at work. I believe that people who demonstrated the ability to rise above those challenges and produce quality work even in the most trying times will be the most valued going forward.
2) Work-Life Balance Is Permanent: Pre-COVID, a lot of companies paid lip service to the idea that employees needed a work-life balance in order to be most productive. While they promoted that concept during hiring and at work, their real motivation was to recruit and retain talent. They didn't understand the importance of a strong work-life balance beyond the realm of talent acquisition and retention.
COVID changed that. The need for (almost) universal work-from-home blurred the lines between work and home life for employees. Many employees saw themselves as on-call 24-7 when working from home (myself included).
That attitude led to burnout and a lack of productivity, and I believe employers more fully understand that a robust home life with outside interests and hobbies makes better and more productive employees.
3) Everyone Is a "Tech Person": For years, successful employees could hide behind the excuse that they were not "tech people" to avoid using new technologies. There is no hiding from it anymore. Successful employees must be technology experts. Adaptation to work from home required even the most conservative employers to invent and implement new and more technological ways of doing things.
Contrary to the popular perspective, I don't believe that in-person office work, meetings, and conferences are a thing of the past. People still crave direct interpersonal interactions, but as more and more of our work shifts to online resources, everyone has to be a technology expert in order to compete.