We can all agree that COVID-19 has changed how we go about the workplace, probably for the better. The “modern office” structure is a hierarchy built after the 1940s where the men were expected to work, and the women were expected to cook, clean, and care for their children. Now that we’re in the age where women work alongside their husbands, changes need to happen. When the pandemic hit, the people who were privileged enough to work at a desk were sent to work at home. In contrast, companies like Walmart and Target sent the low-paid essential workers to work on the store floor, risking exposure to contracting the virus and even death in some cases.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, studies have shown that there has been a 42% decline in mental health, a number that’s quadrupled the previous levels. Corporations have started to look to well-being strategies to help their employees, as conditions can cause absenteeism, presenteeism, and an overall loss of $1 trillion in productivity. Incredibly forward-thinking companies have started creating hybrid workweeks to combat burnout.
However, people are worried about the office devolving into a class system. The higher-ups favor the people who show up to the office rather than being an equal opportunity to everyone. WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani says that the “least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” which undervalues the work that caretakers do every day.
Working from home levels the playing field between the directors and managers and the part-time workers, where everyone shows up to the Zoom meeting with unwashed or just-washed hair, pajamas, and perhaps kids and pets running around in the background. It takes out the fear of new hires and maybe some preconceived notions of how the managers or directors live.
As we look to the future and try to come back to the office, people are running into problems with childcare and eldercare. Offices have a ton of unused office space– if they turn it into a daycare set up for their children, perhaps they’d be comfortable coming back into the workspace.
There are ways that we can come together and create a new setup for offices so that everyone can be comfortable and do better work.