When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in mid-May that fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks indoors, a lot of people were caught by surprise. But they were happy to finally see some light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel.
Almost immediately, state and city governments that still had COVID-19 restrictions in place announced plans to lift them within weeks. Some Major League Baseball teams immediately resumed full capacity while others announced plans to open their stadiums within days.
And management in businesses and government that still had employees working from home started to call those workers back to the office.
Many organizations had been discussing how they might re-open once the COVID-19 virus was controlled enough to move forward. Those discussions, which had been mostly theoretical, were suddenly about the here and now.
“We can open offices now – what do we do?”
If you’re Apple, you’re asking employees to return to the office at least three days a week in early September.
Most Apple employees will return to work in their offices on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the option of working remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Teams that need more in-person interaction will go to the office four or five days a week.
Google will also have most workers showing up in the office three days a week, though 20 percent of staff may end up working from home permanently, and another 20 percent might switch offices.
Microsoft has announced that most of its workers will be able to work remotely up to 50 percent of the time after offices are fully open, if their jobs allow and the workers choose to. The company, like many other tech companies including Slack and Twitter, conducted a survey of its employees to see what they wanted their work life to look like after the pandemic. Across the companies, many people want to come back to offices at least part time, and a smaller slice wants to go back full time.
It’s not just tech companies that are flexing, though. Ford Motor Company, more than a century old and a manufacturing icon, announced a new progressive, flexible, hybrid work model for its employees. In its move to radically redesign the workplace, Ford informed about 30,000 white-collar office workers that they can continue to work from home “indefinitely” and have “flexible hours approved by their managers.” It's anticipated that people will come into the office primarily for meetings and group projects.
As one Ford executive explained, “The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.”
The CEO at Ford’s rival, General Motors, simply said, “Work appropriately.” Instead of giving top-down orders, according to CEO Mary Barra, “It is up to leaders to focus on the work, not the where, and we will provide the tools and resources needed to make the right decisions to support our teams." The decision was based, in part, by the feedback from workers in response to several surveys asking how and where people would like to work.
Just like those huge organizations, our clients are implementing a range of back-to-the-office options. One will not be calling workers back anytime soon, another has plans for everyone to return to on-premises work, and another will have rotating shifts of workers in the office and others working from home.
Nearly everyone acknowledges that we may never return to working the way we all did before the pandemic. As we emerge from pandemic restrictions, we’re literally writing the rules for working in a post-pandemic world. The phrase ‘the new normal” may be odious to many, but a new normal is exactly what we’re all seeking.
As you’re seeking the new normal for your post-pandemic organization, remember that LRS Consulting Services is here to help. We can share what our clients are doing as we supply the IT talent you need to keep moving forward.