|Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.|
Casual Everyday? Business Norms Adopt a More Casual Vibe Post-COVID-19
The pandemic, it’s safe to say, changed a lot about the way businesses operate. On the turn of a dime, accommodations had to be made for social distancing and more hygienic practices. Different methods for keeping in communication with coworkers, ensuring workflow and facilitating collaboration had to be adopted. As a result of these impactful changes to the way work was performed, previous conventions were set aside or abandoned. Conventions like face-to-face interactions, shaking hands, group meetings, business travel, after work social get-togethers, even traditional “professional” attire all went by the wayside in order to accommodate new norms. These standard conventions of business were replaced by practical, virtual and/or “hands-free” solutions.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed, the general expectation is that things will return to “normal.” But now, more than a year down the road from the time when last we felt a sense of that normalcy, what is normal? Businesses have had ample experience doing things differently, modifying their processes, out of necessity. And, for the most part, such changes worked; business was conducted - albeit with some alterations.
Once the learning curve was flattened, the new processes and expectations became not only familiar, but acceptable. Employers learned that remote work can be productive work; that effective virtual meetups and collaboration are indeed possible. Employees learned how to work effectively from home. Everyone learned that handshaking is easily replaced with fist-bumping and as much work can be accomplished in sweatpants as in khakis.
These changes indicate a loosening of (sometimes unnecessary - or at least long unvisited) workplace conventions. While some practices may go back the way they were prior to the early months of 2020, others may well remain in place as employer and employee attitudes and expectations have changed over the many months in quarantine. By this point, it’s accepted that remote work, casual attire and virtual meetings don’t spell lack of productivity and they are being incorporated into more business’ standard operating procedures.” During this time of social and personal upheaval, many individuals have experienced significant changes to their values surrounding their relationship with their work. Those changes in both employers’ and employees’ viewpoints indicate that workplace culture is undergoing a renaissance toward a more casual vibe. And that’s a benefit for everyone concerned.
A more casual approach to work benefits both the employer and employee. As an employer, you’ll see increased productivity. A more casual attitude about where employees work can make a huge difference in the amount they can accomplish in the course of a day. By allowing employees to work remotely several days a week means less wasted commute time that can be spent on work or personal activities which may lead to more relaxed, content (which equals productive) employees. When employees can attend to their whole life during the day rather than compartmentalizing the professional from the personal, they can better focus on the task and hand instead of splitting their attention. Productivity is also increased when the employees themselves determine the appropriate match of venue to task.
Another benefit of more casual practices to you, the employer, is that of more highly satisfied employees. As you well know, satisfied employees tend to be more loyal and dedicated to the company. Employee retention is a particularly good goal for which to strive as it avoids additional costs in lost productivity and training of new employees.
Both of the previous employer benefits are boons to employees as well. The very freedom represented by the choice of where to work and when to work there will increase their sense of productivity, leading in part to higher subjective job satisfaction. Overall, they will attain a more satisfying work/life balance through these more casual approaches to business operations.
So, it’s back to a new normal. One that wasn’t planned but that had some eye-opening, serendipitous lessons to teach business owners and employees about workplace practices and expectations.
How is your business accepting a new, more casual vibe now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing?
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