The pandemic struck out of the blue and disrupted life for all.
While the virus claimed millions of lives, a much larger number of people suffered financially. 2020 was a challenging year as job losses and pay cuts were rampant, many businesses shut down, and the world economy was a mess.
But the silver lining was that the human race showed its resilience and came back with a bang, as many businesses switched to the remote model and continued to survive and thrive through the toughest crisis ever.
Now that the New Year is here, there are new hopes with rollouts of vaccines in different countries to conquer the virus. But global businesses are witnessing a new normal in the post-pandemic year, and Canadian workplaces aren’t an exception.
If you are a business owner in this part of the world, you need to foresee how the workplaces of the future will look like and what you can do to adapt to the new normal. Here are some useful pieces of advice that Canadian employers can follow to get their workplaces ready for the new normal.
1. Flexible workplaces arrangements for business continuity
Once again, business continuity will be the priority for companies in 2021 as the virus is still looming large in Canada and other parts of the world. You cannot expect people to come back to the office or travel for work as usual.
This year too, business owners will have to allow flexible arrangements to stay in operation. Flexibility isn’t only about remote work from their homes. It is also about allowing them to pick their schedules as there are several unprecedented challenges of working from home.
Thankfully, employers have come to terms with the fact that people can be just as productive from their home office. With flexible work being a norm, you can consider downgrading to smaller office spaces that can cut the operational costs to a significant extent.
You may also think about reimbursing people for home office expenses because they will need to invest in home offices to work comfortably for the long haul.
2. Enhanced communication practices
The initial switch to remote work was full of glitches as most Canadian businesses struggled with team collaboration.
The ones with larger teams were particularly in a fix because they had no idea about keeping everyone on the same page. Gradually, they adapted quite well, with tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, and more facilitating seamless collaboration between remote workers.
This year, you can expect things to go a notch higher on the communication and collaboration fronts as there are several new tools around. Moreover, you can find better practices and processes if you look around.
You can opt for multi-channel communication that enhances team productivity, trust, transparency, and empathy. The objective is to prepare your business for the long haul, which is perfectly doable with these new tools and practices.
3. Greater focus on employee wellness
Employee wellness was the top priority for companies throughout the pandemic, and it will be all the more important in the new normal.
While you need to do it to ensure safety, it is also critical from a legal compliance perspective. If you plan to open your physical office in Ontario in the future, consulting a Toronto Employment Lawyer should be on top of your mind. These professionals will have the right guidance to help you stay compliant with occupational safety norms.
Since provinces may have specific guidelines in place, you need to go through them to stay ahead on the compliance front. The focus will be as much on the mental well-being as the physical health of the employees. You can go the extra mile to encourage them to stay active even as they spend most of the time indoors.
Fostering connections with co-workers is an initiative you can implement to promote mental well-being. Staying connected and talking to them face-to-face is another way to help them cope with their loneliness and isolation.
4. Emphasis on agile work environments
The pandemic has brought many lessons for businesses and employees alike. Everyone understands the value of adapting. A majority of manufacturing businesses, for example, moved to staggered shifts or altered workspaces for ensuring social distancing on the shop floors.
Retail businesses switched to curbside pickups and e-commerce to stay operational. Others have moved to the virtual model to keep running even as people work from home.
Agility was the key to survival when the virus first hit, and it will continue to be the driving force in 2021 as well. Businesses that are able to modify their environments in the ever-evolving scenarios will be able to stay afloat. Similarly, employees need to be adaptable and work on enhancing their tech skills so that they can embrace innovation easily.
5. Growth of a culture of trust and diversity
Even as employers were initially apprehensive about employee productivity in the remote model, they gradually embraced the truth that it is absolutely achievable. The ones who are still struggling rely on tools like monitoring software and time management apps.
However, it is vital to realize the value of a culture of trust. It can drive employee loyalty and ensure success for the businesses of tomorrow.
The growth of the digital workplace also translates into a culture that encourages workforce diversity. Businesses are open to hiring resources from any part of the world because they are comfortable with the remote model now.
Moreover, work from home is also poised to bring more women into the workforce in the future. It means that you can secure better resources for your company, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, and location.
Adapting to the new realities of the workplace in 2021 may take some effort for Canadian employers. But it can also bring immense benefits for them, from higher flexibility and productivity to greater retention and loyalty, compliance with the government guidelines, and the assurance of securing talented resources from anywhere in the world.
The sooner you embrace the reality, the more progressive and profitable your organization will become.
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