As we enter 2021, a year many of us have looked forward to, let us say Happy New Year! Many predictions about this year have been made, including what will be done with office spaces and how the business world will redefine professionalism in a myriad of ways.
While many of our work circumstances remain unchanged for the time being, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This brings new hope and a space for examining what we learned in 2020, and how we will incorporate those lessons moving forward. We’re starting by looking at all the ways professionalism was redefined and reimagined during the pandemic, and the benefits of those changes.
2020 was historic, and will have lasting reverberations on human life. It goes without saying that not all of those changes are welcome. However, business culture is evolving and loosening the practices of traditional office meetings, expected work hours, and management styles. All of this will propel another transition to a modern working world that will take shape as time goes on. We are actively transforming how we communicate, collaborate, and come together without actually being together.
As for the outcomes, most folks welcomed the slower pace of life, and the casualization of online meetings with quick scheduling and plain clothes, plus children and cats running through the backgrounds of just about everyone’s Zoom. To say it is all about the dress code though oversimplifies what we gained by altering these social standards.
Discussions on what could happen can be had all day, but is anyone acting these shifts? In one example, REI recently sold its brand-new 400,000-square-foot campus and announced plans to instead open multiple offices around the region. “The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to reexamine and rethink . . . where and how we work, as a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago,” said CEO Eric Artz. Only time will tell if other companies follow suit.
If nothing else, conversations surrounding a business’ real estate footprint, whether big or small, will be ongoing throughout this year. Over 70% of working professionals said they would prefer some kind of hybrid or flexible work model according to Forbes; this could mean companies shutting down their large offices entirely in favor of smaller satellite locations, or downsizing and decentralizing all together like REI and Twitter.
We have merely scratched the surface of the ways that professionalism has been and will be altered over the coming years. Despite the unfortunate origin of these shifts, new work landscapes and a heightened focus on employee engagement breathed new life into work culture. Meetings are easier to schedule, and priorities are met with greater urgency. People are simultaneously more flexible and more productive, and it’s hard to argue with that.
On the whole, if employers could save up to $22,000 per employee per year on the costs of having that person in the office, and employees could also save up to $4,000 on gas, lunches, and new clothes, maybe remote work is the budget-saving flexibility-providing knight in shining armor we never knew we needed. We’d love to hear from you the ways in which 2020 changed your definition of professionalism, or how it has impacted the way your company works. Leave a comment below or share this post!
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