COVID-19 has changed many things in the world in the past year-plus, not the least of which is how we work. Now as we inch toward a more normal version of life and work, a big question awaits when offices reopen: Will we go back to how it was before or forge a new way?
Employees like remote work because of the flexibility it provides. Companies can see benefits, too, such as cost savings and retention. Yet there are also challenges such as digital overload, privacy, and maintaining company culture.
“Preferences have changed for remote work,” says Jirs Meuris, assistant professor of management and human resources at the Wisconsin School of Business. “To understand the consequences of that, we have to look at both sides—the employees and the employers.”
A “new normal” was a lively topic of discussion in the virtual series, “The UW Now Livestream: Post-Pandemic Professionalism.” Two Business Badgers joined Meuris in the discussion and provided insight to how their companies see the return to a “new normal.”
“The pandemic has given us the opportunity to pause and challenge some of the traditional norms of work,” says Summer Rector (BBA ’10), vice president of human resources consulting at The QTI Group. “Remote work in some capacity is here to stay.”
Sarah Condella (BS ’03, MBA ’15), executive vice president of human resources at Exact Sciences, said her company has been surveying its workforce monthly during the pandemic to assess their preferences for and challenges with remote work. There’s a strong preference to maintain the flexibility remote work provides, she says, but also concerns about relationship-building and the type of in-person collaboration that can drive innovation. There will likely be a mix of work options at Exact Sciences post-pandemic, Condella says.
“No matter what, we’re excited about the future,” she says. “We’re excited about the possibilities that this helps us all achieve.”
The live YouTube event was hosted by Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) and former WSB dean. Watch the full video: