Thinking Beyond Covid-19: Embracing a Changing Workplace Forever Altered by a Pandemic

November 9, 2021

The New Office of the Future

Do you remember what your workplace looked like, felt like, smelled like, before you were told to pack everything up and go home in March 2020?

It may all feel surreal, but the Covid-19 pandemic has had some lasting impacts that are affecting companies of all sizes across the country. Now, as we struggle to overcome the Delta variant, organizations are trying to understand what to do next.

In the latest episode of the Ulteig Energy and Infrastructure Podcast, host Aaron Lauinger, Ulteig’s Market Leader for Transportation, Water and Wastewater, is joined by Joel Flanagan, Technical Director of Ulteig’s Substation Team, to discuss some of the most significant impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. While there are no perfect answers to some of the toughest questions facing businesses as they wrestle with the impacts of Covid-19, one thing is very clear, changes to our workplaces are happening before our eyes and the strain of that change is real.

During the podcast, Lauinger and Flanagan touch on a number of impacts, which include:

The New Office of the Future – Work from anywhere? Hybrid? Go back to work, pre-pandemic? The answer is not crystal clear as some workers want to work from home permanently to those who actually want to work in their company’s office space full-time. Attitudes continue to shift and are likely to continue to do so until the pandemic is really, truly over with.

Managing Culture – Organizations of types, sizes and locations are wrestling with how to manage their culture through all of the changes. “I think what organizations need to do is shift – highlight what was strong in your culture prior to the pandemic and figure out how the new environment still provides that same culture, but in new and different ways,” said Flanagan.

Addressing the Great Resignation – The Great Resignation is a real phenomenon that many organizations are dealing with – both in losing employees but also gaining employees who may want to move to another part of the country to pursue a different lifestyle. “It’s a great story of flexibility around these changing dynamics,” said Flanagan. “The Great Resignation is a challenge and with any challenge, it also is a great opportunity for companies to understand how they hold on to their talent or where they want to retain talent.”

The Great Fatigue – Along with the Great Resignation, Flanagan noted that companies need to become more aware of the fatigue that many talented employees are feeling and may want to make a change. The fatigue people feel in a Zoom landscape is real, and yet a balance needs to be found for employees who don’t want to give up the flexibility of working remotely.

Creating Collaboration Centers – Collaboration is critical to the success of professional service businesses such as Ulteig, whose employees have learned new ways to collaborate during the pandemic working remotely while serving the needs of its clients from 12 offices across the country. What does collaboration look like in the future? Do organizations need to set up physical as well as virtual collaboration centers where workers can meet to share ideas and solve problems?

Leaning into, and Living DEI – Addressing diversity, equity and inclusion – really addressing it — and leaning into it and embracing it is another new reality for many organizations. While some organizations may look at DEI as something they must comply with, Flanagan noted, “it’s another great opportunity for companies.” Embracing DEI allows companies such as Ulteig to obtain better, more valuable solutions for its clients. “When you create opportunities to create diverse thought, hear diverse thought, and then respond with solutions built around diverse thought, I believe you come up with a better end product,” said Flanagan.

Launched in March 2020, the Ulteig Energy & Infrastructure Podcast spans Ulteig’s Lifeline Sectors® of Power, Renewables, Transportation and Water. It offers thought-provoking and engaging conversations with key industry stakeholders on technology, innovation, policy and funding. Click here to listen to the current podcast or download it through AppleGoogle Play, or Spotify.

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