Returning to Work After COVID-19: What to Expect

wide angle view of busy design office with workers at desks

Many business owners and employees are wondering what life will look like after the coronavirus pandemic ends and life gets back to “normal.”

With such an unprecedented situation upon us, it’s difficult to know exactly what “normal” will look like when we emerge on the other side.

After shelter in place and social distancing regulations have been lifted, we’re confident in saying that everyday life will likely look a bit different. In the wake of the pandemic’s wide-sweeping effects, there’s a very good chance things will never be quite the same. 

While many people are feeling overwhelmed by the current crisis, some are feeling additional anxiety about the future, wondering what the return to work will look like following COVID-19.

Office Life Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

We can’t say for sure how it’s all going to go down once we’re no longer required to socially isolate, but we do have a few predictions about what you can expect when it comes to returning to the office following the pandemic. 

Open Office Plans May Begin to Phase Out

Research has shown that people working in open and shared office spaces tend to take more sick days than those in more traditional workspaces with individual offices for employees. With fears about contagious disease heightened, we may begin to see the end of open office plans.

You can read more about COVID-19 and its impact on open office floor plans here. 

More Focus on Office Cleanliness

Concerns about the spread of germs will be at an all time high, which means there will likely be an extra emphasis on office cleanliness – especially in offices with shared spaces! Be prepared for extra cleaning duties, more frequent wipe-downs, and an overall renewed effort to keep the office germ-free.

Here are some spring cleaning tips – appropriate for anytime, really – to get you started on cleaning your workspace when you get back to the office.

Workers Returning in Phases

While there is no definitive plan for how non-essential workers will return to work, there have been discussions about returning in phases. We don’t know exactly what that will look like, but we do know that there will likely be an emphasis on reducing close contact with others in order to limit the spread of disease when the shelter-in-place orders have been lifted.

This could mean that some employees continue working from home while others return to the office, or it might mean that one half of the office alternates days with the other half to keep the volume of people in close contact with each other down. 

People Will Be Extra Wary of Sickness

If you are the kind of person that still goes into the office when you have a case of the sniffles, be warned: following this pandemic, people will be extra wary of office sickness. Don’t be surprised if you get dirty looks from your coworkers if you’re sneezing – even if you’re sneezing due to non-contagious allergies. 

Keep this in mind and try to be extra cognizant and considerate of making those you work with uncomfortable. If you’re feeling at all under the weather, take a sick day or work from home instead.

Need some tips for avoiding office sickness? Here are 10 ways to steer clear of sickness in the winter that can work for you any time of the year. 

Limited Social Interactions

If you love working in the office because you’re a social butterfly, be warned: the social aspect of working alongside your colleagues may be a bit more limited once we’re all able to return to work. Group social events may be less frequent, and outings may be limited as well. Extra activities that could encourage increased close contact probably won’t be a good idea when we all first return to work. 

That said, you may still be able to do some in-office team building activities if you’re looking for a way to get your team back on track. Here are a few ideas you might be able to use as a jumping off point.

Preparing for Work Life After COVID-19

It’s tough to say for sure what exactly work life will look like after the coronavirus pandemic dies down, but based on the information we’ve been able to gather the predictions above seem like a pretty safe bet.

And it’s also very likely that we’ll be feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for the foreseeable future. Some impacts may change how we do business forever. With that in mind, it’s important to be prepared to be flexible and open to change as we navigate this uncharted territory.

Remember: as overwhelming and anxiety-inducing as this feels, we’re all in this together. Every business owner and employee is facing some kind of routine or adjustment in how they do business. 

Looking for other resources to help you during the COVID-19 crisis? 

We’ve put together a list of resources for small business owners looking for assistance with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that may be useful to you if you’re in need of financial assistance to get your business back on its feet.

We’ve also assembled a list of tips to help you make working from home work for you while non-essential workers continue to work remotely.

Curious how the coronavirus is impacting operations here at The Lakeside Park? Find details about our COVID-19 operations relevant to tenants and potential tenants here.