How Will COVID-19 Impact Work Schedules and Locations Long Term?



You might be working from home for the first time ever thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. How long it will last is anyone’s guess. One thing we can say with relative certainty is that the upheaval in American business will leave at least some employers and employees thinking about work schedules and locations.

Though no one knows for sure just how many people worked from home at the peak of the pandemic, data from the Bureau Of Labor and Statistics suggest that only about 29% of all U.S. workers have that ability. Those capable of working from home could theoretically continue doing so even after the pandemic is over. Those who can’t will still have to go to a physical location to work, but their schedules may be forever impacted by the COVID-19 experience.

Different Work Locations

BenefitMall published a compelling blog post earlier in 2020 discussing some of the top workplace trends to keep an eye on in 2020. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, BenefitMall was talking about employers embracing more flexible schedules and different work locations. Now, at least some employers have been forced to do so whether they ever intended to or not.

In terms of different work locations, it has become apparent that not all work has to be done at the office. Thanks to technology, it is possible to do all sorts of work remotely. It is really just a question of will.

Not that keeping everybody home is ideal. It’s not. Humans still need interaction on a regular basis. They need to be able to see others face-to-face; to have conversations; to discuss business over lunch. And still, there is room for working at home or some other remote location. Companies that would have otherwise not entertained working outside the office have now discovered it can be done.

Long-Term Possibilities

The long-term effects of this newly discovered dynamic could be wide-ranging and variable. For example, some companies might now be willing to develop policies that allow workers to skip coming to the office several times per week. It might give rise to companies utilizing a combination of in-office and at-home workers for a more well-rounded workforce.

More Flexible Schedules

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced employers to be more flexible with schedules. Working from home might be a possibility, but parents have kids that also need schooling. They have babies that do not necessarily follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule. This is not a bad thing inasmuch as employers are discovering that their schedules do not have to be as strict either.

A few years ago, a small number of companies began experimenting with a flexible scheduling model that allowed workers complete control over when they worked. Employees were allowed to come and go as they pleased just as long as their work was done on time and according to company standards. The COVID-19 pandemic has since forced that model on a lot of employers.

Long-Term Possibilities

In the long term, it could be that more employees are given more control over their schedules as part of the ‘new normal’ so many of us are anticipating. Working may not necessarily have to be a strictly scheduled venture. It may not have to require identical schedules for each and every worker.

For all of the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be some very good changes that come out of it. Two of those changes could be a greater willingness to embrace remote working and more flexible schedules among those employees with the ability to manage their own time.