It’s stunning sometimes how quickly things can change, and the
I doubt anyone imagined that video conferencing platform
Zoom would roll into Q2 worth more than four major airlines combined—United,
Delta, American and JetBlue—according to the New
York Times last week.
"With all due respect to Zoom," wrote New York
Times columnist Kara Swisher: "That’s just insane."
And this is due to a virus no one had ever heard of before
So, what’s next? The roller coaster we are all on could land
us anywhere—pundits are already punditing about the future of work, but what
will things look like three months down the road? In six months? Next year at
When the COVID-19 coronavirus crept into our national
consciousness, the Institute for Productivity (i4cp) surveyed HR professionals
and asked them how far out their organization’s planning to mitigate the
outbreak extended. On March 16th a combined 41% of those surveyed told
us that they had a plan in place for two to four weeks. Four weeks later, it’s
clear that most organizations haven’t figured it out yet— many are
undetermined, playing it by ear.
What we all do know by now is that we don’t need a plan B.
or a plan C, D, E, F, G, etc. We need to design business and work in such a way
that things can continue no matter what, anywhere, anytime, period. An
omnichannel model is the key to surviving, even thriving in times of crisis, as
Starbucks has demonstrated via its adoption of automated payments, mobile apps,
pickup-only stores, third-party delivery networks, etc. according
Basing contingency planning on old ideas (and opinions) doesn’t
Will newly remote workers want to remain remote? Even when
an all-clear pronouncement comes out, how comfortable will people be returning
to a brick-and-mortar workplace, where they will be in close proximity to a lot
of people again?
And what about those managers long dedicated to acting as human
speedbumps—intractably obstructing even a reasonable conversation about the
idea of remote work arrangements for their team members?
How are they doing right about now? Have they become
converts—new believers in the ability of teams to remain (or become even more)
productive while working remotely? Are they apoplectic at the prospect of
trying to coax the genie back into the bottle?
Corporate America has spent a lot of time, energy, and money
the past decade or so creating collaborative workplaces that encourage
employees to spend a lot of time at work, and to spend that time clustering
together in teams, pods, flocks, crews, etc. Hoteling and hot-desking have
become the norm. Vibrant, communal, highly interactive spaces seemed to be what
so many workers wanted.
Now organizations are looking at creating space for
distancing in the office—how about instead of cube farms, we come back to the
office to find bench seating that allows employees to better assess and adjust their
space? Instead of investing in stuff that makes employees want to congregate,
employers will shift spending to technology that provides drinking water, and
access to lighting, rooms, and elevators without employees having to touch a
handle or press a button, the New York Times forecasts.
Is it too soon to begin return to work planning? Plenty of
people have opinions about this, but as with so many things lately, no one
really knows for sure.
encourage you to visit i4cp.com/coronavirus for other employer resources including discussion forums, next
practices, useful resources, and more.