How COVID will continue to change the way we work in 2021 and beyond

COVID-19 has effected almost everyone on a global scale, changing how we live and work. 6 months into the pandemic, with no vaccination on the horizon, COVID will continue to circulate within every aspect of our society, as a result, we remain under many restrictions to keep people safe.


The workplace has been forced to adapt, implementing some short term fixes to keep employees and customers safe. PPE, increased hand sanitising, extra cleaning and social distancing have all become common place across all working environments. As we look forward to 2021, we must focus on establishing further measures to allow businesses across all sectors to continue to operate within their working environment. Whilst we may not see permanent changes, for now we are going to have to learn to live with something we cannot yet control. Below we outline a number of additional measures that many more businesses may adopt to ensure the continued safety of our workforce for many months ahead.


Flexible working patterns

Working from home from a kitchen table has become common place. To some extent, where employees are happy and comfortable to continue, and employers are happy with their productivity, many will remain working from home for many more months.

For some employers though, there is a real need to have their employees on-site. For this to be done safely, employers are having to think about supporting a flexible workforce.

Flexible working hours and staggered working patterns can be implemented to ensure the numbers on-site are controlled and allow for social distancing to take place.

Rotating days in which different teams are on-site could also be commonplace. With shifts organised so that employees can avoid typical rush hour peaks on public transport.


A new look Head office

Office’s will not go away, but they may look a bit different. Screens between desks used to be about providing a private space for colleagues to undertake their work in quiet surroundings. Now they are being used to separate colleagues to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

Some major firms are looking at full design upgrades to their office environments. Implementing central hygiene stations for hand washing, health screening or thermal scanners at office entry points to check temperatures. To contactless technology such as voice activated lighting and AV equipment to automatic doors to avoid hand touching.

Investment in technology

Video platforms such as Zoom have undoubtedly made WFH possible and possibly more bearable, enabling face to face interaction with fellow colleagues, stakeholders and customers alike. As a result of this widespread adoption, the use of video technology will most certainly become common place.

E-Learning could also see a rise in popularity. Unable to progress with face to face learning and development, companies are going to have to invest in their e-learning platforms to enable employees to build important skills and develop professionally.

Whilst some more permanent safety measures are relatively easy to implement, others require more substantial planning, research and financial investment.  Business limitations of time, expertise and money may therefore hinder further measures being implemented; indeed some measures may not be suitable at all.

With many uncertainties ahead, businesses need to do all they can to be both economically viable and socially empathetic. Implementing the right longer term safety measures that works for the business and its workforce is therefore paramount.

It does seem increasing likely that the effects of living through the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the way we live, the way we work and the way we socialise. At the heart of it all though is our duty of care to ensure the global workforce are protected against this invisible assassin.

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