• Karen Davis

Take Away, Mid Pandemic Return

Initially returning to work is distracting! Wear a mask, wash hands, sanitize everything, keep your distance while still communicating, there is so much more to remember and do until the new working order becomes routine. This is IMPORTANT. Clients, work associates and the public will be very offended if their health is not respected. In business, this is not the time to flout opinion, but rather to be socially graceful to show your concern for others. Businesses that go the extra mile will have a better chance of survival during this unprecedented economic contraction. Of course this is an added level of service, psychology and stress. The consumer is seeking safety and escape from that stress. Any level of comfort provided by business will not go unnoticed.

Settling in to the new work order there also seems to be a shift in priorities. The loss of work underscores how important it is to have work. We are glad to be back. But we are returning with a new understanding of our values. Nothing can compensate us for the loss of health or our close circle of people. It is in that new light that we place our value on the workplace. Yes work is important, but there is a new understanding that work is a means to an end to provide for humanity. That provision is financial, social and indeed provides satisfaction in our need to be useful. It cannot replace well being and our connection with others. Businesses that employ others will create a tight team if 'trickle down' from ownership knows how to parlay this value shift as a positive thing. We may see employers offering different work schedules and pay scales. Value on a healthy working environment and healthy workers will have to be taken into consideration when examining viability and profitability.

Many of us are returning to reduced hours or reduced pay. At first there is a Material Discontent. This is only natural as bills still have to be paid and some carry large financial burdens based on past entitlement. Okay that sounds harsh, but to a lot of us, we are looking back and wondering what our financial decision making was based upon. That entitlement does not have to carry forward into post pandemic. We have learned to do without in the short term. Instead of replacing that stylish suit or later model car, we go to the dry cleaner or have the car detailed. There is a level of Usability applied to our things now, not just the prestige of the newest or the coolest. What does this new appreciation of the material have to do with the workplace? Employees may not want the heavy hours of work to pay for consumerism when a changed value system has just been thrust upon them. Keeping up with others has been instantly replaced with a focus on defining personal need and style. Yes employees are grateful to return to work, but they are returning with a new understanding of what they consider important.

To businesses that create the material, there may be a demand for quality rather than quantity or a narrowed scope of offering. Less is the new more. Sleeker product lines of the necessary will likely fit into the willingness of the consumer to spend rather than trend marketing. The same goes for employees. Experienced, valuable, targeted and productive work will be more attractive to suddenly streamlined employers. The balancing act between Employer and Employee and the needs of both has become an even more delicate dance in the Pandemic workplace. As reopening proceeds, the resiliency and creativity of businesses is a marvel. Some were better prepared to survive, some will survive on their ability to quickly adapt. My expression of "Glad to be back" may have to change to "Glad to move forward!"

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