Five Ways the Future of Work Could Look Different

Five Ways the Future of Work Could Look Different

By Tricia O'Connor

Pivot. Turn. Recovery. Whatever you call it, it’s coming. We’re all returning to work one way or another. Just as we altered our business operations and deployed our remote workforces differently, we’ll be re-opening our companies in different ways, too.

Physical work environments may include spacing guidelines. Remote employees who are happy and productive at home may want to stay there. Health screenings and Personal Protective Equipment may be new requirements. Virtual employee onboarding may become standard hiring practice.

Although businesses made these adaptations in response to a crisis, many of the processes may be here to stay. Here, EBI explores five ways the future of work could look different, and why that’s not such a bad thing.

1.) Remote Positions

The shift to remote work happened fast and furiously at the outbreak of COVID-19. Microsoft reported an increase of 12 million users in the first week of stay-at-home orders. While many doubted the functionality and efficiency of such a large remote workforce, many businesses have been pleasantly surprised by the results. Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s parent company Alphabet have all implemented plans to allow some or all their workforce to remain home.

Jennifer Krinsky, a Senior Account Director at The Porter Group, has more than 25 years of experience recruiting sales professionals. She says this return to work remote push is actually a return to form.

There was a time when companies had the majority of their employees working remotely. Employers found their staff to be more productive and with significantly better work life balance. That changed in 2008 when the economy took a nosedive. In an effort to try and gain more control of what was happening, they sort of “pulled in the reins.” They needed to wrap their arms around every aspect of their business to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. My feeling is that if people are productive working from home and still accomplishing what they need to, some employers may consider allowing more work from home.

2.) Health Screening

Many aspects of workplace safety have changed, and new health screening regulations and requirements are a part of that shift. Things we’ve never dreamed of like temperature scans, daily health screenings, and even requiring Personal Protective Equipment in offices could now be standard procedure in some companies. But there are guidelines to follow.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) both continually release guidance to help employers stay up to date with changing regulations. These guidelines may be especially helpful for human resources and business operations departments as they work to establish workplace safety plans. 

But returning to the workplace also requires a level of emotional safety. As Marti Kurland, leader of EBI’s Global Design Culture and Catherine Mattice-Zundel, President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, discuss in their upcoming ebook, Beyond Safety: Reopening and Rebuilding Your Workplace with Employee Needs and Organizational Culture in Mind, you can use your company culture to bolster both physical and emotional safety with winning results. You can receive the ebook, too, by downloading this On Demand Webinar.

3.) Drug Testing

Studies show substance abuse increases dramatically during a national crisis and remains at elevated levels for months afterwards. Drug overdoses have risen in some areas during the pandemic. People are using marijuana for comfort.

The reason, experts say, is the link between coinciding mental health issues, an infectious disease outbreak, acute stress and loneliness and boredom, plus the relative flexibility employees have to fill their days at home as they wish (as long as their output remains steady).

Getting high at home is one thing. Continuing that behavior once you’re back in the workplace is dangerous, for you and everyone around you. Here are some of the effects drug use can have on returning workers:

  • Greater risk of a workplace accident
  • Lower productivity
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Higher medical costs

Employers might consider updating their policy against the use of drugs while working at home or at the workplace – now, and when the pandemic is over. If you’re looking for tips to update your policy, download this On Demand Webinar, How to Prepare Now for a Drug-Free Post-Pandemic Workplace, presented by EBI and Current Consulting Group and sponsored by OraSure Technologies. 

Revising your drug testing policy also presents an opportunity for employers to evaluate new drug screening solutions – like a breathalyzer for marijuana – that might soon be available.

Current testing methods for marijuana can show whether someone has used within the last 24 hours or up to the last 3 months. A new technology claims to get data from deep in the lungs to measure THC in the breath. Someone who smoked pot will show THC levels for 2 to 3 hours. If they’ve consumed edible marijuana products, they can show impairment for up to 5 hours. As reported in EBI’s Screening News Network, one state has agreed to spend $300,000 over the next year studying the new product from Hounds Labs in California.

4.) Virtual Interviews 

The use of digital tools skyrocketed during this pandemic. Employers not only used video conferencing software to coordinate and manage newly remote teams, but also to conduct virtual interviews.

Virtual interviews have many benefits including helping organizations hire faster and safer by limiting unnecessary exposure from keeping candidates out of the office. Virtual interviews may also prove to be the primary tool to boost beleaguered Generation Zers into reputable jobs and fill any remaining summer internships.

Experts predict virtual hiring, whether for in-person or work from home positions, is here to stay. Here are some tips to help you conduct successful virtual interviews:

  • Use a virtual platform you’re already comfortable on
  • Preview resumes and other documents ahead of time
  • Wear professional or job-appropriate attire
  • Avoid group interviews; 1-on-1 works best
  • Maintain eye contact and composed body language
  • Use a notebook for notes (some people may find typing noise distracting) 

ICYMI: Looking for more digital hiring tips? Check out this HR Roundtable – Making the Most Out of Your Virtual Interviews.

5.) Expedited Screening Options

Finding viable and cost-effective measures to shorten time-to-hire is a goal for every employer, perhaps even more so when employers are eager to return to normal operations. You may be tempted to lower your background check standards to fill spots quickly. This can leave your company, customers, and visitors vulnerable.

Instead of truncating your screening process, another option is to find a screening provider like EBI who offers expedited screening options. EBI has created a dedicated implementation team to get your company onboarded with us, and your employees onboarded with you, as quickly as possible. Our pre-made ATS integrations can be deployed in one day, making the switch to EBI easy, fast, and painless.

We’re All In This Together

EBI understands the hurdles employers face as we all recover from COVID-19 and we want to advocate for your business goals. Our COVID-19 HR Resources page is a terrific tool to find answers to many of your questions.

If you need more assistance, please email us, connect with us on our LinkedIn page, or speak with one of our experts.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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