There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused some changes to the way we approach our professions – some new standard practices include daily temperature screening of staffs, maintaining social distance as well as wearing masks.

Some companies have also modified their operations to supplement the effectiveness and productivity of working from home.

Let us look at three of the biggest changes we can expect to see being normalized post COVID-19.

1. A hybrid business model

The pandemic has forced businesses to reduce on-site manpower to reduce the transmission of the virus. A hybrid business model involves part of the employees working in the office and the rest working remotely.

The sudden transition to remote work is being used as a method to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus by limiting physical interaction between people. As this was not a topic of concern prior the pandemic, business leaders will have to devise innovative ways of maintaining as well as increasing the productivity and efficiency levels as an approach to ease the transition to remote working conditions.

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) helped technologists develop digital workplace platforms which acts as a centralised solution for communication, collaboration, project management, information gathering, and knowledge sharing. These tools can be implemented to stimulate digital interaction between employees through real-time messaging, cloud file sharing, and visual presentation tools.

Companies can also implement work-from-home (WFH) policies to smoothen the transition and streamline variables towards remote operations. Corporations such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been early adopters of this policy, with Twitter even allowing their employees to permanently WFH. Supplemented with digital platforms, the structuring of a WFH policy albeit takes some reorganisation, certainly does help ease the move towards remote operations.

2. Increased use of digital tools and platforms

Picture source: university.help.edu.my

While businesses and organisations have already begun the deployment of digital tools and platforms across their operation line, it was rather experimental in its implementation process. Businesses, especially the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector has only just begun the digitalisation journey.

However, the arrival of the pandemic has forced digital dependency and as a result, digital workplace platforms have become a vital tool in ensuring business operations remain functional despite the absence of physical interaction. This affects various relationships in the workplace especially between clients, customers, and fellow peers.

Thanks to the advancement of digital technologies, platforms such as Slack enables companies to discuss, monitor progress, and combine ideas of their projects in real-time. It also features integration with cloud storage platforms such as OneDrive so that important working files can be shared and reviewed at any time from any location.

Another common example is the utilisation of digital video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet to conduct virtual meetings, discussions or can even be utilised to stimulate interaction between employees.

Messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram are also widely used for quick and informal conversations between employees, and can also be utilised as a tool to maintain communication with remote teams, ensuring everyone whether away or on-site, to remain in the loop.

3. Focus on employee data analytics

Even before the pandemic, the application of data has always been used as a major tool to measure the performance of employees, inventory management, and forecasting, amongst various other areas.

However, the WFH concept inevitably makes it harder for leaders to monitor and measure the productivity and performance of employees. Nonetheless, the availability of data analytics tools allows businesses to monitor and measure employees’ performance digitally, by tracking their work computer usage, virtual clocking in and out, and monitoring of work emails amongst an array of other tracking methods.

The hazards caused by the virus has accelerated the expansion of data analytics applications into other areas such as health and safety monitoring of employees and even critical analysis of employee roles and skills, allowing businesses to make informed decisions on how to continue business operations in this unprecedented time.

While the concept of offices is not likely to disappear altogether, we can however expect companies to change their approach on how they utilise workspace. For example, a company may choose a smaller but more conducive working environment to increase the performance of employees working on-site. In turn, due to the smaller number of physical working employees, companies may reduce their investments on physical locations but instead, channeling investments initiatives towards the adoption of digital tools and technologies.