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How could COVID-19 impact future workplace habits?

Erika George,
director of the Tanner Humanities Center and professor of law

The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of employee voices. Humans are much more than resources. As we see more people working from home, we recognize the long-undervalued housework and care efforts done mostly by women. We also have a greater appreciation for our temp and part-time workers. I hope we can use this as an opportunity to create more flexible, equitable, and fulfilling employment opportunities and to better support people who are unable to work. Human creativity, the capacity to collaborate, and compassion will be key in the post-pandemic workplace.

Tony Tsai,
director of leadership development and education strategy, School of Medicine

We’re seeing a fundamental shift in the definition of the “workplace” from being office- centered to something that is not tied to a location. This shift will transform work itself as it changes from being tied to a single role in an office to multiple work engagements with flexible roles in different work communities. This trend will only be accelerated with the decline of full-time positions due to the emerging economic situation. There is benefit for those who can embrace this flexibility as it entails greater freedom to define our work and professional communities.

Elizabeth Tenney,
assistant professor at the David Eccles School of Business

What COVID-19 should make abundantly clear to business leaders is that the fates of employees, vendors, customers, and executives are intertwined. Having tunnel vision for the bottom line, or ignoring broader community and environmental consequences of business decisions, is not a sustainable management practice. What I hope changes is an enduring gratitude for those on the ground floor and an acute awareness that to survive the toughest times, leaders need to focus on what really matters across all levels of organizations—building strong relationships.

Jeff Herring,
BA’98, the U’s chief human resources officer

It has been said that necessity is the mother of all invention. This is true with telework. The reluctance to allow people to work remotely has been ripped away by necessity during COVID-19. Most work has continued or even increased with telework. I think we’ll see a dramatic increase in remote work arrangements. I also foresee more reliance on tech tools. The workforce has become much more familiar with virtual meetings, e-forms, streamlined processes, etc. If these are used strategically post-COVID, I believe workplaces can be far more efficient.


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