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CNBC is out with a listicle forecasting how the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns will alter the way we work. These changes include:
- Working in an office could become a status symbol. As more Americans work remotely, corporate headquarters will be reserved for companies that still have the budget and large enough workforce to warrant expensive real estate in a major city.
- Most meetings could be replaced by email and IM. Expect fewer in-person meetings as people adapt and become more efficient using tech tools to take care of business.
- It could be the end of business travel as we know it. Travel budgets will be slashed as telecommuting is adopted at scale and companies learn that video meetings are a viable alternative to some business travel.
- Office buildings could become 'elaborate conference centers'. The purpose of offices will be to enable gatherings which means fewer walled-off rooms and more open spaces to host meetings, conferences and other company-wide events.
- Mandatory on-the-job medical screening could become the norm. Workers returning in the months ahead will encounter temperature checks and antibody tests. Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot and Starbucks have already begun screening.
- Coworkers could become even closer. Although handshakes are on their way out, psychologists predict coworkers will actually begin visiting each other in person.
- Fashion-ready face masks could become a wardrobe staple. Face masks will become a socially mandated accessory and provide an opportunity for the textile industry to make masks more protective, comfortable and stylish.
- Standard 9-to-5 office hours could become a thing of the past. As many employees successfully work from home, employers will allow some flexibility around work hours.
- Home office stipends could become a common perk. On average, employers save about $11,000 per year for each remote employee. Companies are expected to follow in the footsteps of Twitter and Shopify which gave stipends or reimbursements to help remote workers establish a home office setup.
- The workplace could become more equitable for women. Remote jobs will allow women to remain in the workforce while balancing home and work life.
- Middle management positions could be cut forever. We could continue to see a hollowing out of middle management as what happened during the 2008 global financial crisis. This actually makes it harder to get promoted and a reason for sluggish wage growth.
- Automation could be accelerated. Because of social distancing measures, organizations like restaurants and retailers have been forced to operate with few employees physically present, which could accelerate the adoption of robots and automated machines.
- There could be an increased demand to close the digital divide. 21 million Americans or more do not have reliable internet access which poses a problem as work and school moves online. Government leaders may be forced to finally ensure everyone has access to broadband internet.