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Finding a New Normal in the Post-COVID Workplace

Oct 14, 2020 1:05:08 PM

future workplace post covid

McKinsey & Company recently published the results from a new survey about the extent of the pandemic’s disruption in workplace practices and behaviors, and the many changes in progress that are leading to a new normal.  As a benchmarking and statistics company, we are always interested in current trends and data that could affect the association world. Thus, we wanted to highlight some of the key findings from the study below. 

Over 800 business executives from around the world (roughly half from the United States) were surveyed about how their plans for the structure of work has evolved due to COVID-19.  Overall, one-third of surveyed companies have accelerated the digitization of their supply chains, half have sped up the digitization of their customer channels, and two-thirds have moved faster to adopt artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation.   

Below are 4 highlights from the study:   

  1. Automation and Digitization: 
    Executives report accelerated digitization and automation since the outbreak of COVID.  Due to unprecedented restrictions on travel, human interactions and changes in consumer behavior, many companies have successfully transformed in a matter of weeks instead of months or years to meet the changing work environment.  85% of respondents said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration, such as videoconferencing and filesharing. Roughly half reported increasing digitization of customer channels such as ecommerce, mobile apps, or chatbots. Roughly 35% have further digitized their supply chains, for example, by connecting their suppliers with digital platforms in supply chain management.

  2. Hiring:  
    Executives expect to increase the number of roles in their companies, particularly in the areas of health and hygiene as COVID has drawn attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety.  As workspaces are redesigned, companies will also add new roles in facilities management.  More workers will be needed who specialize in ventilation, automation, and robotics.  Companies such as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T already have built programs to retrain their employees losing jobs to automation in new skills that complement automation.  These skills currently are rare among the workforce, and retraining employees in them typically costs companies less than laying them off.

  3. Remote Work:  
    Executives say some remote work is here to stay.  The potential for remote work is highest in the information and technology, finance and insurance, and management sectors.  In the information and technology sector, 34% of executives surveyed during the pandemic said at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely 2 or more days a week going forward, compared with 22% of executives from that sector surveyed before the pandemic.  (On a side note, Google, Facebook, Twitter among others have recently announced either extended or permanent work-from-home policies).  However, more than 60% of workers in the U.S. cannot work remotely since their jobs require some physical presence such as standing on a processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services.

  4. Temporary Workers:  
    Executives expect to rely more on contractors and temporary workers as uncertainty about the pandemic plays out and when the economy will rebound, along with increased reliance on remote work.  The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in healthcare and social assistance. 

Dynamic Benchmarking is interested in learning how the findings from this study apply to our association industry, and we will be conducting our own study to see what we can learn about finding our new normal.  Stay tuned.    We also encourage you to read the entire report on McKinsey’s website. 

Linda Xavier, PMP, Certified Benchmarking Professional  

Source: McKinsey & Company, "Executive Views on the Future of Work" survey. 

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