• By: Allen Brown

What do businesses need to think about as the “New Normal” looms?

As businesses start to return to normal after the last couple of years, many organizations are tasked with ensuring that workers come back fully rested, recovered, and ready but also need to make solid adaptations for what the New Normal will bring.

With the mayor of Ottawa urging the federal government to send its workers back to the downtown offices to boost businesses, there is a lot many organizations need to consider. A polling firm asked 2,550 Canadian adults what they would do if they were mandated to come back to the office full-time. 33% said they would do it but start looking for another job, and 23% said they would quit on the spot, it is clear that flexibility is vital. For any small business or large organization operating in Ottawa, they are all facing a major ultimatum right now.

Is Flexibility More Essential Than We Realize?

The reality is that the solution to a number of working arrangements doesn’t have clear delineations. Remote work during the pandemic has shown a few broad trends; while roughly one-quarter of workers don’t want to set foot in the office ever again, the same amount actually wants to go back to the office full-time.

Because of the complex nature of pleasing workers, flexibility is going to be more essential to the business than ever. Just under 50% of Canadian workers are able to do part or all of their job from home, but that does not mean every employee wants to stay at home. A smart organization will be flexible and will base its decisions on what individuals need.

Within an organization, it is important to look at the finite components of the industry. Flexibility is not just for the employee, but it can help the business as well. Therefore, a business can be more ambitious in its practices. Companies that had made significant plans that were scuppered by the pandemic can now start back on their ascension.

For example, an employee can take their business to a far-off trade show and make sure that the business can improve its reach. But this means that while businesses are finding their feet once again, they will have to make certain sacrifices with regard to finances. This could mean ensuring that an employee utilizes wifi rental services or the company has stricter rules with regard to expenses, but the fact is that if an employee is going to be demanding flexibility, there may be times when the business will need it as well.

Why Morale Is Key to Business Success

As businesses return to normal, many have learnt major lessons in how to maintain the morale of employees. Morale is pivotal for the success of your employees. Those employees who are able to have a solid work-life balance are going to be more productive.

Morale is also vital for the sake of business success. This is not just because of productivity, but as employees are returning to work amid a global crisis relating to the war in Ukraine, employees might be just sticking to their jobs so they can feed their families. This means many organizations can feel they are in an advantageous position.

The reality is that morale should never be compromised for the sake of profit. As businesses return to normal post-pandemic, the world is entering yet another stressful time. War will have a negative impact on the cost of imports such as fuel. This sense of modern malaise felt by many people was originally because of the pandemic. The notion of “pandemic brain fog,” where people were starting to become more forgetful as a way to cope with stressful times, combined with those who have experienced gaps in memory because of COVID-19, are finding themselves in an emotionally fractious position.

A company needs to learn how to look after its employees and make sure that morale is maintained.

Satisfaction Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

We are all demanding more of our employees. Therefore, an employer can be in a very disadvantageous position because they are not able to give their employees everything they want. However, employers must remember that satisfaction is not just to do with perks or pay; it is vital to remember that satisfaction relates to a moral compass as well. Many people were looking for more satisfying jobs at the height of the pandemic because they had the time to re-evaluate their lives. Looking for work that has more balance but also provides a greater sense of meaning became one of the biggest priorities.

As employees start to return to the office, there will be a great disconnect between what they do and why they do it. Satisfaction is something that employers need to guarantee but it can be done in a number of ways, like organizing corporate massage programs to help employees relax and reduce stress levels. As people make their return to the office, there is a great sense of uncertainty in the air. Businesses are looking to cover their costs and to actually provide a valid sustainable reason to keep an office open.

An organization that has 50% of its employees working at home can wonder why it is worth keeping an office open at all. Therefore, as companies begin to make a case for their business to stay open, the notion of hybrid work can throw up a number of issues. Flexibility becomes crucial for the sake of morale and satisfaction but is also a good way for companies to be more competitive.

The task of bringing people back to the office is a debate that will be ongoing for a number of months but this is where businesses really need to start thinking about if an organization can return to normal in the traditional sense. Many refer to the New Normal as the way forward, and if an organization believes that returning to the city center after the pandemic is only going to help to stimulate what life once was, this may require a lot of rethinking and soul-searching to ensure they support the employees, as well as themselves.

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