COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on workplace practices and behaviours: report

It is critical for organizations to learn from and embed the lessons from the shutdown to their everyday operations

COVID-19 will have a lasting effect on workplace practices and behaviours: report

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: With offices and businesses resuming operations in several parts of the world, Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting, says the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will permanently change the future of work. 

The report by Oliver Wyman and a team of leading behavioural science experts, titled Shaping the New Normal: Changing Working Practices for Good, explores five working practices that have been formed or altered throughout the past 6 months in response to COVID-19 that organizations may seek to preserve and promote even after the pandemic subsides. 

“Work practices across businesses around the world have been disrupted, more or less overnight, by an unexpected circumstance. This offers a unique opportunity for organizations to recalibrate working practices that serve as the cultural foundations of long-term organizational success,” said Abhishek Sharma, Public Sector Partner at Oliver Wyman Middle East.

“With much of the global workforce operating on a remote basis, videoconferencing platforms have reported up to 20-40 times increase in downloads and user traffic. As physical shops remain temporarily closed in many parts of the region, online sales and digital payments have skyrocketed. For instance, sales have increased by as much as 200% in the case of a major regional supermarket chain.”

According to the report, five areas of working life that have been disrupted by COVID-19 that companies might want to maintain include:

  • Moving to virtual forms of communication
  • Restructuring business meetings
  • Enforcing hygiene compliance in professional settings
  • Ensuring employee wellbeing
  • Displacing physical cash with digital alternatives

“To maintain the new, positive organizational behaviours that have emerged as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, there are at least three components needed to be in place in order to make the new routine or practice stick. By instilling a cue trigger, implementing routine and rewards and ensuring the repetition of activities are embedded over a sustained period of time, organizations can benefit from beginning to execute this framework today, and continually updating their findings as their employees adapt over time,” said Sharma.

“But crucially, this is a fast-narrowing window of opportunity,” he added. “Some parts of the world are already beginning to emerge from their lockdown period. If this opportunity is not seized now, old practices and routines will quickly reassert themselves, and this once-in-a-lifetime chance to effectively drive large-scale improvements in working practices will have slipped away.”

The impact of COVID-19 on economic activity has jeopardised the economic well-being of individuals and institutions and resulted in a slowdown across business operations. In the Middle East, businesses and governments have developed robust contingency and continuity plans and adopted new working practices to reduce the impact of COVID-19 with government restructuring programs in the UAE, stimulus schemes in Saudi Arabia and a push to recruit more citizens in Kuwait among others.

For further details, please see the attached report and visit 

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