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10 Workplace Changes to Expect for the Post-COVID-19 Era

10 Workplace Changes to Expect for the Post-COVID-19 Era

In the immediate aftermath of the onset of the global coronavirus crisis, companies across industries simply had to react. Scramble. Take immediate action. Fast.

Now, as economies across the world begin to reopen in phases, businesses can also start to return to more strategic planning.

To help employers during this critical moment of transition, as we resume “business as usual,” we at Headstart gathered HR and T&A leaders from PWC, ThirtyThree, Progressive HR blog, and more to discuss the changes underway and make predictions about those yet to anticipate and prepare for in the weeks and months ahead.

Here are some of the key insights these experts shared at our virtual conference, The New Normal in Talent Acquisition and HR.

10 Organizational Changes to Expect


“The future of work,” “The future of recruitment,” and “The future of HR” have arrived

The predicted change we all said was ahead of us—thanks to the coming digital transformation of industries—is now upon us, once and for all. Virtual working. Flexible work arrangements. Giving employees more autonomy over their work. These were all once things we hoped technology would enable. But now they’re a reality for many companies. We can see evolution in action. And not only that, we’re seeing how it all plays out in real-time and at scale.


Employer (and employee) comfort with change is greater than ever

Out of necessity, we’ve learned how to affect large-scale change—getting down to business—how to adapt and be agile going forward. And through that agility, continuous improvement is possible.

And it’s not just at the top, every employee has a part in this. Every employee can be the change. Anyone can be the one to propose new ideas and help improve things.


Effective change management starts with communication

Companies that are succeeding are open and consistent about what’s happening. They’re not waiting until everything’s perfectly clear and finalized. They’re keeping teams and potential hires up to date in a timely and thoughtful manner.

Now is the time for businesses to prioritize human, empathetic, honest, and authentic messaging.


Both companies and talent will need to become more flexible

We’re seeing this play out as organizations shift to address new needs by transitioning employees without enough work into high-need areas. Expect to see a rapid transition of labor between roles, teams, and industries as new jobs are being invented and where there’s greater demand, especially in essential industries.


Employee needs are naturally evolving—and these need to be addressed

Companies may see an increase in loyalty and commitment, from people who want to give back and help the business survive.

Employee and candidate experience matter more than ever as we’re team members are sharing more of our personal lives and true selves in work settings.

For the moment, as unemployment soars in different parts of the world and job security wanes, there may be a drop in employee attrition. But this drop attrition should not be mistaken for engagement. Attrition may jump as soon as new opportunities become available.


Expect remote working to look different

Companies have experienced a unique set of circumstances during the pandemic. There have been dynamics at play that employers have never had to contend with before and won’t necessarily have to deal with in the future. This hasn’t truly been telecommuting. This has been working remotely with everyone else—including the kids—at home, too. This hasn’t been an accurate (or fair) test. It’s been about surviving, not necessarily thriving.

In reality, what will more likely play out won’t be an all-or-nothing remote working scenario. Instead, it will likely be more of a flex work hybrid where the focus will be less about where individuals work than what they do and how they do it.

Make work-life balance a reality

See work-life balance as more than just a pillar and turn it into a company value that’s put into practice. This means:

  • finding a middle ground between what was once the way of doing business and what has happened during the pandemic.
  • granting employees greater choice and trust on what works best for them.
  • recognizing individual needs. Some may crave going back to work, some may enjoy having no commute. Establishing new policies will require finding a balance.

The good news is that many of the barriers to managing remote working have been overcome.


The future of the office will be all about the experience

As we rethink the future of work, naturally we’ll also need to rethink the purpose of office spaces. Instead of spaces for getting day-to-day tasks accomplished, they may more likely shift into gathering spaces—places for celebration, conferences, and training. The future of the office, in other words, will be an experience.

No longer will the emphasis be on the physical office. Instead, the goal will be to create a place where employees can gather with one another to fulfill the company’s mission and vision. Employers will need to reflect on the atmosphere and how space can lead to greater collaboration. Thinking about the physical footprint will require deliberate thought going forward.


Expect talent evaluation and performance reviews to look different

The future of hiring and performance evaluation is here. With remote working, the emphasis will shift from hours logged in person to preference given to prospective hires and employees who are collaborative and can also work independently. In terms of metrics, employees will no longer be evaluated for how long they spend in the office and more on how they communicate and share feedback, especially for those working within knowledge industries.


Employers will need to rethink how employees develop relationships with their colleagues

As companies begin to hire employees who have never met in person, they will need to place an emphasis on developing trust and collaboration while aligning individuals to one single vision and mission.


Learning and development will need a reboot

Not only will learning and development need to be modified to adapt to a remote working environment, but the content of the learning materials may also need to change. With employees no longer meeting face to face (in person), employers may need to educate team members about self-awareness as well as address other topics to help team members become agile and learn new workflows as needed.

Companies may further want to consider updating the format to be more entertaining and feel less like a chore and to adjust for the loss of in-person networking and socialization.

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Making Change Management Happen

Employees will be more open to change when they understand the need for it, when they are presented with a vision for a better future, and when they believe that whatever you’re asking of them is going to make that vision a reality.

Employers, however, should be able to recognize their team’s capacity for change. Right now, employees are drained. They’re burned out. They’re worried about their physical and emotional well-being. This is a time of tremendous disruption. That’s why companies should be careful about how much they’re asking of anyone employee at any given moment in time. Prioritize. Recognized that some changes may have to wait.

Not every change discussed here may come to be (or last), but what is clear is that great change—greater than we ever imagined—is possible and can happen. And quite quickly at that.

We hope these insights from Headstart and our industry colleagues will help employers reflect on the best ways to adapt in the post-COVID-19 era, a new age of the future of work.

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