Everyday Life Reemerging: What It Might Look Like
20th October 2020
This past year, we’ve all watched as life’s many facets become increasingly intertwined with one another. Professional obligations overlap with home responsibilities; friendly outings are structured around commercial limitations; safeguarding physical health must be balanced (somehow) with maintaining social wellbeing.
What’s not quite clear is how we’re going to respond as different aspects of the pre-lockdown world return to normal while others are delayed for all sorts of reasons. Restaurants might reopen while seating restrictions continue. Commerce might pick up while school closures persist. Office buildings may sit at half-occupancy for years ahead while productivity requirements gradually resume. It stands to reason that inconsistencies such as these will eventually bear down on the work of Human Resources professionals, and will certainly have an effect on the individual benefits packages they help to oversee.
At least one aspect of the larger benefits space is already undergoing considerable changes out of lockdown-related necessity: health checkups. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the patient/doctor relationship already seemed to be under some pressure, or at least that impression seemed to be commonly held. But with a pandemic at work across the world, that pressure became all too real and resulted in the swift implementation and ready adoption of telehealthcare practices. And while the in-person component to malady treatment isn’t going anywhere, the conversational check-up has, like so much else in the world, gone remote to one degree or another.
Regardless of how long the lockdown persists, employers should ensure their benefits plans have a telehealth provision of some sort. It’s a wellness shift largely brought on by the lockdown, but one that might carry on for reasons of practicality. It’s a matter of balance, both for your employees and for the benefits you offer them.
Balancing acts are certainly familiar to those in HR. Consider the dual responsibilities of enforcing corporate policies (many of them governmentally mandated) and looking after the wellbeing of individual employees – one of those tasks is highly administrative, the other is inherently interpersonal. We can all see (or have seen) where things get a bit grey in practice.
That aspect of the HR world is likely to grow more complex as companies contend with life’s post-COVID reemergence. Policy details will need to be revised, especially as they pertain to social distancing guidelines, and new expectations on part of employees will lead to questions like, “Have we been taking company cohesion for granted all these years?”
In a shared office, social impulses create cohesion automatically. In a remote/semi-remote scenario, connections may in time begin to weaken.
It’s incumbent upon all company leaders and those who work on the personnel side of the house to be prepared for the previously mentioned reemergence. That responsibility extends well beyond basic benefits, compensation, and office attire regulations, to include matters of communication, performance assessments, and managing either a piecemeal return to “normal” or the implementation of new productivity measures to mirror a changing world.
As the economy continues its reignition, pay attention to how it’s happening. From stadiums and cafés, to theaters and fitness centers, lockdown aftereffects will be felt throughout. Give some thought to what that might mean for your employees - their lives, their “9:00-5:00” hours, their families. Consider new ways to keep them engaged with the company mission and with their distinctive responsibilities within it.
A lot of what we used to consider “everyday life” might return soon enough, and there’s good reason to hope for that. In the meantime, let’s look rationally at our present circumstances and game-plan for permanent and significant changes to our pre-COVID systems, professional and otherwise. The people who depend on you for that much will be grateful.