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What workplace changes do you see as local
businesses return to work?
Laurie Dawkins: There is some resistance to returning to the office,
especially for a typical five-day work week. Many people found worklife
balance in the past year and they don't want to give that up.
Kristi Gage-Linderman: For production workers, there are no WFH
options so it's more or less business as usual. For corporate workers
though, there is a recognition of the need for flexibility.
Are you seeing an increase in hybrid or
Dawkins: There is definitely an increase in adoption of hybrid work
models as employers consider what tasks can be done remotely
versus what roles can't.
Gage-Linderman: Yes, and in some unexpected places. For
instance, we're seeing call center work move to a WFH model.
What challenges are you hearing about from
employers in regards to the workplace?
Dawkins: Employers are now faced with employees who have
different priorities and as they seek to implement flexibility, they have
to create new or modify existing policies, procedures, the works.
Gage-Linderman: Employers are still exploring how to manage a
hybrid/remote workplace. How do you communicate? How do you
build and promote culture? How do you manage expectations?
Cindy Gerber Tomlinson: Employers are finding an increased need
to pay attention to the mental health of their workforce whether that
employee is remote or is returning to the office.
How are workplace changes impacting job-seekers?
Dawkins: People want to work for someone who cares.
Gage-Linderman: People are looking for opportunities that offer
Tomlinson: People have taken a step back from work and
asked, " How does my work line up with my life? " There are more
opportunities for remote work now; physical location may no longer
be a limit. Employees are becoming more courageous in seeking
roles that fit their definition of balance and satisfaction.
What are your general observations about the impact
of the pandemic on the traditional workplace?
Dawkins: I feel like work in the U.S. was heading in the hybrid/
remote direction in the coming years but the pandemic forced the
issue. As businesses adapt, they will be able to keep employees and
attract new talent.
Gage-Linderman: The traditional workplace isn't going away
but employers can realize the benefits of adapting to the needs of
their current and future employees. Employers need to be aware of
Tomlinson: I think there has been a fundamental shift in the
foundations of the workplace and the way forward is to embrace
change as opportunity.
By Kirsten P. Haas, Executive Director, Girls on the Run
of Berks County
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