Pandemic Changes That Will Stick


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”
John Drucker

For this article, I am taking a quick glance at how our workplace environments are likely to change in the long-term as a result of the pandemic.  It is a non-scientific shallow dive that will most likely align with what many of you have already deciphered through your own observations. For me, I find this topic intriguing because:

  1. My own personal work space will be quite different (see article on IPD move)
  2. The modes of delivering IPD instruction will continue to flex
  3. The way I interact with clients and coworkers will be quite different
  4. And (most importantly) IPD needs to prepare people for their future roles so they flex and adapt with post-pandemic work situations.

I am interested in knowing what training you and your team will need from IPD to be productive in the post-pandemic world. As we move through this transformational journey, let me know what you need.   Email me (beth.schaefer@metrostate.edu) with your thoughts, and IPD will use those as a starting point for a survey to direct the development of new training courses – whether for you as a leader or the people you lead.

You can slice and dice the effects of the pandemic on business in many different ways:

  1. Industries that will flourish or perish
  2. Products that will remain in high-demand while others drop down
  3. Habits of consumers driving new services while discarding others
  4. Gender workload differences and pay
  5. Awareness of systemic inequalities in workplace opportunities
  6. Urban real estate declining and small town living increasing in demand

For the purposes of serving you better, I am looking at the main business change in your work environment- The Remote Office along with the strategies to ensure we are at least as productive as we were pre-pandemic.

For me, the biggest jolt has been the shift from working in the communal office setting to working solo and remotely.  Almost every other change (such as increased automation, a new focus on AI, moving out of the urban setting, and the uptick with DIY and crafting) can be connected to this one change.  And, it generates a long list of new skills you may need or are still figuring out how to do better:

  • How to avoid “Zoom fatigue”

  • How to function in “hoteling space”

  • How to best communicate – especially the smaller pieces you use to say over the cubical wall or by popping your head into an office

  • How to call upon others to help you quick problem-solve or brainstorm without making it a formal virtual meeting

  • How to communicate project progress

  • How to redo all processes to fit a virtual world

  • How to structure your day

  • How to draw lines between work and home or blur the lines between work and home

  • How to prioritize your work

  • How to find, read, and draw your own insights on data

The good news is that you are getting some help from your organizations.   According to my sources, most of you are seeing that:

  1. Your company is losing its fear of being an early-adapter of technology
  2. Your work processes are becoming more automated
  3. Your options for hybrid (some remote, some in office) work are opening up

However, some changes are bit more challenging.  The same sources said that your managers still struggle with:

  1. How to rate and monitor your production instead of your time
  2. How to support your mental health
  3. How to manage teams with the lack of workplace structure
  4. How to make adjustments now that the systemic inequalities are coming to light

While public and private roles share many commonalities in the post-Covid workplace, public sector managers will have additional challenges when marrying disruption with a system based on stability.  In particular, they will face unsustainable labor agreements with a shrinking tax base and less aid.  When they can hire again, their system touts longevity as a hiring benefit to younger generations who do not care about working for the same organization for 20 years but prefer flexible employment options.   To get the change they need, professional public sector leaders will need to get their councils, boards, and legislators to vote in drastic and dramatic changes.

Again, please take a minute and let me know areas or topics where you need some support or more information.   Email me with your thoughts, and IPD will use those as a starting point for a survey to direct the development of new training courses – whether for you as a leader or the people you lead.

I will let you know how I do on my own transition from private office at work to my den at home, and back to my new shared collaborative work space once it is built.

Beth Schaefer

IPD Director

Sources

ABC News

BizJournal

Careers in Government

Forbes

Government Executives

Harvard Business Week

McKinsey & Company

Vault

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