26 March, 2021

The new normal

What will the workplace look like in 2021 and beyond?

In 2020, many large and small Australian businesses, had to adapt quickly to a remote workforce and new ways of communicating with customers. The road ahead will be focused on establishing the new normal — balancing employee and customer desires with what works best for the business.

Here are five things to consider when thinking about the new normal for your workplace, according to PwC Australia1:

1. A new operating rhythm

As an employer, you may want to consider which of your employees can continue to work effectively from home and whether you can establish shifts or teams that work on set days in the office.

Establish some guiding principles around what flexibility will look like in your workplace to set expectations for your employees and reduce any disconnect between your expectations and theirs.

2. Effective communication

Be empathetic and consider what your people need to know to keep them engaged and get their work done. Consider the communication tools and channels you use to ensure people who aren’t in the office don’t miss out on essential information.

Listen to your people and try not to force them back to the workplace before they are ready. Understanding the pulse of your organisation will help you create policies and communications that benefit everyone.

3. Workspaces, facilities and technology

You may need to ensure social distancing can be maintained between employees, customers and any other visitors in the workplace.

You will also need a plan for your collaboration spaces, meeting rooms and desks to ensure people working in the office and at home have the same access to communication channels and other technologies.

4. Health and safety

Ask yourself how you will ensure the ongoing health and safety of your people. Some things to consider include:

  • cleaning protocols for desks, common areas, bathrooms and kitchen spaces
  • providing equipment to maintain personal hygiene, like face masks, alcohol wipes, handwashing stations and hand sanitiser
  • having a risk management process that includes contact tracing, travel policy reviews and tracking of employee compliance with health regulations
  • establishing a contingency plan in case of future COVID-19 outbreaks.

5. Mental health and wellbeing

Don't underestimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of your employees. Make sure you regularly check-in to ensure your people are managing any stress or anxiety they may be feeling. Where possible, provide resources and support options on an ongoing basis.

Consider how you can encourage your people to maintain an ergonomic setup and take regular breaks from their desk. This will help maintain productivity and the physical health of your people. Consider how you can encourage your people to maintain an ergonomic setup and take regular breaks from their desk. This will help maintain productivity and the physical health of your people.



Five lifestyle trends we want to keep

The Australian Bureau of Statistics asked some Australians which aspects of life in the Covid-19 period they would like to see continue in future. 

Here are the top five responses2:

  1. spending more time with family and friends
  2. spending more time outdoors
  3. spending less and saving more
  4. less environmental impact
  5. working from home


1 PwC Australia, pwc.com.au/important-problems/business-economic-recovery-coronavirus-covid-19/returning-tothe-workplace-after-covid-19.html

2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities/household-impacts-covid- 19-survey/latest-release#life-after-the-covid-19-pandemic


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