The pandemic brought the world to its knees. In response, we had to adjust overnight. While essential workers risked their lives on a daily basis, an unprecedented amount of us became remote workers instantly. After more than a year, increasing vaccine availability and loosening restrictions promise a return to ‘normal’ life. While there is an eagerness to reengage with friends and families, many don’t want to forgo some aspects of their COVID routines, like eliminating their daily commute. So, as we contemplate returning to the workplace, many questions and anxieties remain: Is it safe? What will the post-COVID office look like? What are the company’s expectations of me?
Navigating these unknowns can daunting—indeed rates of mental illness like anxiety and depression have spiked. But this global event has also created an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine the workplace. Because the pandemic spared no parts of the country, employers are uniquely positioned to influence the nation’s overall post-COVID experience. Decisions around safety, flexibility and accommodations will not only have a direct effect on people’s workplace experience, but will also indirectly shape individual routines with regard to childrearing, eldercare, long haulers, and even where one can live.
This discussion will examine these overarching questions all companies and employees now face, how their far-reaching reverberations impacts everyone in and outside of the workplace.