EVOLVING WORKPLACE: Pandemic Persists, Virtual Here to Stay as Workers and Managers Define "New Norms"

January 07, 2022

COVID continues to dominate: As the omicron variant drives yet another surge in COVID infections, companies are again evaluating return to office plans. The latest wave could be a sign of an emerging post-pandemic reality—the need for continuous monitoring of and response to new variants. This new reality could include the potential for multiple boosters, and as we've seen recently, continually changing and often confusing policies on recommended post-infection quarantine protocols.

Technology-driven talent solutions push the edge: Labor shortages will persist as many workers remain reluctant to return to work under pre-pandemic terms and conditions. These shortages, along with the pandemic-accelerated move to virtual work, will add fuel to an already strong drive for efficiency through technology. Technologies that help companies move beyond improving speed and accuracy will continue to emerge, with tools that augment and even replace human decisionmaking pushing the frontier of the human-technology relationship. As the (largely) unintended consequences of these new technologies become apparent, backlash is likely in the form of calls for the regulation of AI.

Establishing new workplace norms: The breakdown of societal norms regarding civil behavior will threaten to spill into the workplace. Companies will be faced with navigating changing expectations of what constitutes appropriate discourse and behavior in the physical and virtual workplace—especially as it relates to the discussion of social and political issues, that may not be directly related to business operations. The 2022 midterm elections in the U.S. will be a forerunner of what to expect in the 2024 Presidential election.