Five Things That Will Definitely (or Should) Change in Office Life

Whether you’re stuck working from home or just plain surviving at home, we know life has definitely changed. For those of us accustomed to the ‘ole 9-5 office life, these last few (and likely future) weeks of working from home in an unplanned manner are going to lead to what us senior leaders and marketers call “teachable moments” and “professional growth opportunities”.

I’m talking about the little things from our office culture and professional lives that we both loved and hated and now simultaneously miss. I have to believe that when we come back, culture and expectations about how we interact and work will evolve—for the better!

Dress Codes

Many of us are already lucky to have casual wear and athleisure in our office dress codes, but I think we’ll see a move toward two extremes of dress codes—unofficially of course. 

  • The “Fancy Pants” Crowd
    • You know who you are. The idea of throwing on a shirt, tie, dress, blouse, etc. is so appealing because it means you get to leave the house. You want and need that material separation to give you a physical and mental cue that your life is back on track and somewhat compartmentalized. But if you prefer to dress up, don’t hold it against the other group.
  • The “Yeah, Sure” People (This is me)
    • This is how we are right now. At home. I wouldn’t be surprised to see dress codes updated to say something like, “If you’d be comfortable wearing this to a dive bar or hotel gym, then it’s cool.” I’ve already seen my colleagues and clients with questionable mustache choices, torn 80s concert tees, post-gym sweaty hair, and I’m pretty sure some aren’t wearing pants. 

Office Kitchen Areas

  • Let me just start by saying as an office crusader who has been on the front-lines of kitchen cleanliness, I hope that during social distancing many bad habits will be trained out of the biggest offenders. For all the lazy dishes folks that throw old, crusty, used oatmeal bowls in the sink without even a courtesy rinse, you’ve now been confined at home for over a month… You best have learned your lesson because I guarantee your roommates, partners, or spouses aren’t doing that for you—at least without some vocal lashings. When you come back, remember this lesson.

Beer and Wine at Lunch

  • You’re laughing now but take a good hard look at your reflection in your computer monitor and tell me you haven’t rationalized with yourself justifying that 3 p.m. drink on Tuesday. I get it, if no one sees it, then it never really happened. You’re still productive, and it takes the edge off. It’s only fair then to think that if we’re crushing work, we should maybe crush some beers while doing it when we get back to the office. I expect we’ll see less stigma and judgement, and it’ll be a great way to support your local brewery, wine cafe and sports bar as the new go-to meeting and lunch spots. Needless to say, drink responsibility. 

Open Office Concepts

  • SO LONG open office plans, especially those where seats are unassigned. You don’t want my germs, and I definitely don’t want yours. In a post-COVID world, we’re going to see personal space increase as we try to give distance, and we may also see the return of more offices. But PLEASE no, major cube farms with 6-foot faux walls. Those still just represent crippling sadness. 

Standard Office Hours

  • If COVID-19 preventative measures did one thing, they’ve effectively destroyed the notion of work-life balance. It was already a fading ideal, but now that the boundaries have been completely obliterated, I believe this will have some serious impact on traditional office hours. Whether you’re living alone or with kids, you’ve gotten a great taste of how to do your work on your own time, and as offices slowly start to open, I think standards of hours of operation are going to change. Work is now something you do, not necessarily a place to go, and office-based businesses are going to have to adjust and be flexible to that reality. However, the very real silver lining in this is that it could be a huge opportunity to streamline meeting culture and drive efficiency. 

There you have it. Are these predictions ironclad? No, but they are definitely based in real-life truths I have been seeing and experiencing. In either case, I know things will be different when I step back into my company’s office, so I might as well look ahead to make the best of it.

About the Author: Jason is the VP of Public Relations and Social Media at OH Partners. He’s a communications executive with over 15 years of experience across a diversified and has seen his fair share of crisis situations. Through all of it, he believes in challenging conventions and driving creative solutions and communications plans that add real value and breakthrough.


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