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Post-Covid-19: what’s next for the workforce?

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Does anybody else miss the good old times when we could go for a run, pay social visits and hit the stores without getting into a social-distancing queue? I know I do! The majority of us have been cooped up thanks to the global lockdown brought on by the coronavirus and we’ll all breathe a singular sigh of relief once it's lifted and we can all go back to normal.

But… What is normal now, and how is it any different to how things were before?

Even as economies cautiously reopen their doors, what’s got everyone talking is the paradigm shift in normalcy. 

Try as we might want everything to be the way it was before, the pandemic has changed work, workplaces and us- the workforce. Where does that leave those of us who were traditional nine-to-fivers?

For a lot of us, working from home will be a part of the 'normal' mix.' Work-life balance, once considered a perk of flexible working, is now openly debated, with some arguing that they’re putting in longer hours than when they were in an office setting. Working parents are juggling zoom meetings and online classes for their kids, while those staying by themselves are battling loneliness and a feeling of disconnect from their coworkers, as evidenced by a Hubspot survey. While we may not miss long distance commutes, we definitely miss the hum of office activities and interacting with our colleagues!

There is a silver lining,though. With routines being upended, there are new productivity strategies you can carry over from your ‘homebody’ days to make returning to work in brick-and-mortar offices smooth. Here are a few that I think that are worth sharing; 

1.You do You

By now you’ll know when in the day you’re at your productive best. And that hour needn’t work for everyone uniformly. Some are more productive at the start of the day, while others do better post-lunch. Use quick check ins to prioritize your work before commencing so that you’re clear about the others are on, and what you should focus on first. Find that window of productivity and then work on the most urgent, intensive or time-sensitive task so that you can stay on top of your workload. 

2. Practice social distancing at work

Don’t be so quick to drop the social-distancing protocols you’ve been following so far! We’re not completely out of the woods till a working vaccine is found. As happy as you’ll be to see familiar faces again, maintain a safe distance with your colleagues to minimize the risk of transmission. Find a distraction-free nook for yourself and practice rigorous self-hygiene. If you’re the type to take walking breaks, remember to self-sanitize and wipe down every surface you touch after you return.  It’s also a good idea to have a thermometer on hand to  carry out temperature checks on whoever comes in. Also, treat couriered parcels with the same caution! 

3. Take self-improvement courses

I am currently on my third course and have found it convenient to tune in to any digital classroom. It's a productive pursuit that is sure to make my professional profile stand out in the future. There’re a number of virtual classes on practically any course. Make a list of the ones that are relevant to your professional interests and set a pace for your learning. You’ve got the time now and can really get into it. Since we’ll now be dividing our time between work and home, we all need something to break the pace. And who knows, you might learn something that will help you solve a work challenge in your present situation! 

4. Prepare for some remote work-time

You’re probably itching to get out of the house, but even with offices open at some capacity, you’ll need to follow a different schedule where you’ll report for duty and work out of your home for two-three days of the week. Get used to switching, and use a productivity tracker to gauge if you’re spending your time right no matter which mode of working you’re in. Make plans for social outings only after confirming it's safe to do so. 

What are you looking forward to the most when and if the lockdown ends? Keep up your reading streak with the next blog on remote working tools!

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