Some post-pandemic workplaces will be a “hybrid model”

workers at computer stations

How soon will workplaces return to normal? In many cases, will there be a new normal?

Not surprisingly, the answers will vary sector-to-sector and business-to-business.

Cisco Systems CEO Chuck Robbins said the following: “I think you’ll see many employees that will continue to work from home, you’ll have many that will get back to the office and then you’ll have some that’ll do a little bit of both.”

Companies that navigate this successfully will have a huge advantage over companies who don’t adapt, and this can lead to greater productivity and also reduce overhead costs such as expensive office space in the future.

  

Danger of a prolonged recession affecting job market

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell threw some cold water on the notion of a quick snap-back for the economy and job markets in the wake of the Coronavirus. He argued that policymakers may have to use additional weapons to pull the country out of a crisis that has cost at least 20 million jobs and caused “a level of pain that is hard to capture in words.”

This doesn’t bode well for many sectors like travel and dining and will make it very difficult for jobs to come back quickly.

  

Twitter will allow employees to work for home permenantly

twitter-1848505_640

Many have been predicting that we will see changes in work from home policies across many industries as a result of the Coronavirus. But this is still a surprise. By announcing that all employees will have the option of working from home, Twitter is setting the bar for other companies thinking about how to handle this issue.

Of course this raises a host of issues as well. Is it an either/or choice for employees? Or can they select a hybrid approach? Can they primarily work from home but then come in from time to time? Also, how will this affect the future of Twitter’s San Francisco HQ and other offices? Can this be a critical first step in easing the crowding in some of our largest cities?

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

  

Pandemic may lead to more automation in the workplace

robot for manufacturing

A working paper from two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco illustrates how the Coronavirus pandemic may accelerate the trend towards automation of some workplaces:

“Workers can be exposed to health risks, and social distancing measures can reduce labor productivity by hindering the ability to work. But robots do not get sick,” Leduc and Liu wrote in the paper, posted on the San Francisco Fed’s website on May 8. “If a production process can be automated, a firm can use a robot instead of a worker to perform some risky tasks. In this sense, automation provides a hedge against job uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.”

Of course this trend has been going on for years, particularly in manufacturing. And in some cases, we’ve seen that automation sometimes creates new problems. It’s not always a silver bullet, but the chaos caused by this pandemic will certainly lead to more companies investigating ways to replace humans with machines in the workplace.

  

Remote work is leading to . . . more time to work

entrepreneur-593357_640

With so many people working from home during the Covid-19 crisis, more people are learning about the benefits of working from home:

As most Americans continue to adjust to working from home during quarantine, the number of hours workers save on commuting hassles is being redistributed into their work.

Remote working certainly has some perks during the COVID-19 crisis. Social distancing and shelter-in-place are two of the best ways to help combat the virus since it encourages people to stay indoors and not head over to the office. But the additional free-time that comes with no commutes and standing in traffic for countless hours means US workdays are up by three hours since the rise in the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new analysis.

Of course, other productivity issues can arise with distractions at home, particularly if you have kids at home.

But the advantages of eliminating commuting time is real. This gives workers so much more time to work with during the day, and an 11-hour day feels like a normal 8-hour day.

It will be interesting to see how employers use this information. Having worked from home for years, this isn’t a surprise.