Workers wear personal protective equipment at an office during the coronavirus pandemicSix months since workplaces around the world shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, academics, business professionals and the public agree that the future of working will be forever changed.

But how exactly will a post-COVID workplace look?

Hybridization and Agility – The Watch Words of the Future

Anticipate a hybrid model of some telecommuting and some work on site, all in line with what works best for company productivity, say Cal State Fullerton management professors Jay Barbuto, Gerard Beenen and Shaun Pichler.

“A realization has emerged amid the pandemic that the traditional ‘work-at-the-office contract’ is not, in all cases, the best mode for productive employee engagement,” says Barbuto, director of the Center for Leadership and professor of management.

Agility will be the name of the game for the foreseeable future, and that means business leaders will have to focus on listening, inclusion and compassion to support the human element of this rapid and unprecedented change.

“The crisis has made clear that a lot of work can be done remotely. Alternative work arrangements were more of a luxury before the pandemic but are going to be the new normal,” says Pichler, who consistently points to research that telecommuting employees are at least as productive as those in the office, notwithstanding the burnout and psychological impact of the pandemic, shutdowns and economic downturn.

Beenen says a likely norm will be one or two days of telecommuting each week, with attendant environmental, energy, societal, economic and work-life benefits, but the actual mix will depend on the performance and achievement goals of each company or organization.

“Business leaders care about increasing productivity and reducing cost. Less time commuting and more freedom to work hours that you want to work can increase productivity,” says Beenen. “Lower cost is achievable as office spaces convert to hoteling models where employees don’t have a permanent office but reserve a virtual one when they need to come in. As long as outcomes are achieved, remote work can be both possible and desirable.”

With telecommuting skeptics becoming firm believers, it will be increasingly necessary for tomorrow’s workers to have experience and success in remote work environments.

Read more about what tomorrow’s workplace may be like in this CSUF News article.