What will the post-coronavirus workplace look like?
The lockdown is being eased, and the thrill of going back to work is overwhelming. We have missed the banter, coffee breaks, water cooler chats… but wait...
Things aren’t going to be as easy as they were earlier. The lockdown has eased for a reason. The economy can’t go into a lockdown mode forever or till a vaccine is found. The three months at home was a theoretical experience, and actual enforcement will begin when we start going to work.
The mask, the sanitizer, the gloves and the face shield
Welcome to the new normal. These are the new vanity kits for men and women. A great equaliser, as COVID-19 doesn’t recognise gender, colour, or faith. Without these, stepping out of your cocoon is a strict no-no. I would even suggest that a sanitiser spray be with you on all times. While it may sound too cautious, it is a necessity as one wouldn’t know what causes the virus to attack and studies are still evolving.
From the WHO saying it isn’t human transmission to maintaining six-feet distance, we are at a stage where we can’t afford to be lackadaisical in our approach to COVID-19. Forget getting it, we could also be the reason of transmission without the necessary precaution.
This is the difficult part. The hugs, the handshakes, the fist- bump is all for the moment passé’. How much ever you know your co-worker, the manager, your boss, or the office boy, maintain your distance. It is for mutual benefit. A Namaste will work for the time being... hugs and handshakes can wait.
Mugs, water bottles, and stationery
Carry your mugs, your own bottle of water, and don’t share your pens. If borrowing a pen, sanitise it with a spray. Try and avoid outside food. Even it’s just a roti roll or a simple khichdi, stick to home food.
Meetings at work
Ensure the meeting room isn’t crowded. If it’s a small office, ensure the meeting happens in the open, where the team leader can address the team from the floor. The idea is to maintain that distance.
Sneezing or coughing
Not all coughs and sneezes are related to COVID-19. Hold your arms against the mouth to avoid any spread. Practise it even if you are not coughing as we tend to sneeze in the open or into our hands. In case you do, quickly wash your hands for 20 seconds with a good hand wash.
Sharing confidential information
Some work tends to be confidential. In such cases, limit the number of members with whom you are sharing and use the meeting room. But bear in mind the need for social distancing and share information with utmost care. Otherwise, call the person late night or early morning from home to discuss the situation.
Keeping team spirit alive
Social distancing isn’t emotional distancing. Ensure there is a daily call with the team. Chances are that most team members will not be able to be a part of the office space.
Keep the momentum alive by organising conference or video calls to keep everyone connected. This is also a good time to mentor employees who need to prepare themselves for the new world.
The post-COVID-19 office culture is sure to lean and mean. It not a rat race anymore. It is the survival of the fittest.
It is a period that will move on to make organisations lean, cut costs, make work more efficient and accountable, outsource all that doesn’t need expertise, look for business solutions that will help the company to march forward, and adaptability to technology efficiency and outputs.
Change, they say, is the only permanent. Sometimes, change is the only option. We are in a period of change not just in the country but across the globe. It is a good thing that we are not alone in this process.
We are part of the change, a change that is changing the dynamics of work culture, work approach, and in a way the work itself. It has provided us with a new canvas, a canvas that is sans border, space, and fixed time. It is the time to paint it bright. The paradigm shift is here. Let’s change gears and rev up!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)