On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Organizations all around the world made workplace changes to reduce virus transmission and support their team members through the crisis.

Two years later, the world of work is vastly different than it was pre-pandemic. Many workplace changes look like they’re here to stay in our new normal.

Remote work went mainstream

Shelter-in-place orders early in the pandemic kicked off a sudden transition to remote work for all non-essential employees with remote-compatible jobs. It’s been estimated that 69 percent of employees in the United States worked remotely at the peak of the pandemic.

Companies adapted by providing tools for a remote workforce, updating their remote work policies, and learning how to overcome remote worker bias.

This experiment in remote work paved the way for more flexible work options in our new normal. Seventy three percent of executives said the transition to remote work was a success. Sixty eight percent of people say they’re successful working remotely, and 70 percent of leaders say that working remotely is the same or better for their team’s work performance. 

Most workers (77 percent) now say they want to work remotely at least once a week, versus 31 percent of people who said the same pre-pandemic. And two-thirds of companies plan to offer greater work flexibility following the pandemic.

The ‘Great Resignation’ led to the ‘Great Reengagement’

The pandemic caused many workers to reevaluate their career choices and goals, leading to record-high turnover in what’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation.” 

Three in four workers are considering leaving their jobs, in pursuit of better pay, more work flexibility, and a quest for better life satisfaction. This has the potential to be an expensive problem for employers, as the cost of backfilling a role is one-half to two times the employee's annual salary. 

Forward-thinking employers are focused on reengaging and retaining their team members in the new world of work. In addition to offering greater work flexibility, 69 percent of companies are offering more opportunities for skill-building than they were before the crisis. This can help them develop team members, leading to higher internal mobility, employee satisfaction, and talent retention. 

Company culture became decentralized

Your company culture is based on your team’s shared set of values, but often manifests in physical office spaces. For example, open floor plan seating encourages collaboration, catered snacks and meals spur team building during breaks, and face-to-face interactions inspire recognition. 

But as distributed teams became the norm, so too did decentralized company cultures. Employers have refreshed their company cultures to account for new values and to better support their teams. And they’ve had to consider how to adapt their company cultures to reach their distributed workforces. For example, employee recognition may now be shared in a Zoom call, a Slack channel, and on a performance management platform. 

Employee health and wellness went into the spotlight

The pandemic highlighted not only the importance of physical health, but overall wellness. People wanted to avoid getting ill, but the social isolation and stress of pandemic life led to a decline in mental health and an increase in burnout.

To combat these issues and promote better overall wellness, employers are investing more in this area. For example, 90 percent of employers are investing more in mental health benefits, 76 percent in stress management and resilience, and 71 percent in mindfulness and meditation. When it comes to physical health, 80 percent of employers are investing more in telemedicine, and 57 percent are investing in COVID-19 vaccine programs. 

Other trends in workplace wellness include encouraging team members to take time off to recharge, volunteer, get vaccinated, or enjoy a longer holiday break with family and friends.

Final thoughts

The world of work has forever changed. Many have still not returned to the office, and some never will. Resignations have reached their highest point in recorded history, and distributed workforces have caused employers to reevaluate their company cultures. Finally, health and wellness now has the attention it's always deserved. 

It’s difficult to say what’s in store for the post-pandemic world of work—or when that will even be—but these trends are likely to carry through for the foreseeable future.


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Two Years On. COVID-19 and its Impact on the World of Work