For business owners who have experienced a remote workforce for the first time, or who have had to operate virtually for several months with a reduced workforce, the COVID-19 crisis has changed office culture for the foreseeable future – and perhaps permanently.

Most notably, it has forced an embrace of remote work and the technologies that support it, such as videoconferencing and cloud-based financial management. Looking to the future, the COVID-19 experience may trigger broad changes in the American business environment and office culture.

Forward-looking business owners and managers should think about the key areas where workplace culture may change permanently due to COVID-19: remote work, communication, workforce recruiting, workplace safety, and technology.


Remote work has redefined what it means to work for many employers and employees alike. As workers have set up makeshift home offices and stayed on the clock throughout the COVID-19 crisis, business owners who resisted flexible work arrangements in the past have seen how beneficial it can be. The ability – driven by technology – for employees to keep companies operating through the pandemic has enabled many businesses to stay afloat.

What does that mean for the future? Many service-oriented businesses will re-evaluate the idea of the 40-hour work week in an office. Business owners who are flexible enough to accommodate increased demand for virtual work should consider its impact on communication, the workforce, and technology needs.


By its nature, remote work changes the way we communicate. The worst-case scenario is that it diminishes communication and hurts an otherwise healthy, collaborative office culture. To make remote work arrangements productive, regularly scheduled phone, email, chat, and videoconference check-ins are essential.


When it comes to recruiting, remote work arrangements broaden your field of candidates. If a job is 100 percent virtual, why does the candidate have to live in your company’s ZIP code? Remote work capabilities could be a strategic advantage when hiring critical positions.


The COVID-19 crisis has brought many workers face to face with workplace safety questions for the first time. They want to know their workplace is safe and that employers understand the risks associated with the coronavirus. Some employees will be more cautious than others when everyone is back in the office.

Communicate with employees ahead of time about safety measures you will take – and those you expect them to take – when everyone returns to the office. Follow through on your assurances to maintain workplace safety measures, and make sure your employees do. If you don’t offer paid sick leave, consider it now as a permanent workplace safety measure.


The experience of working remotely has exposed technology weaknesses in many companies. Functions such as videoconferencing, file sharing, cloud-based applications, interface of company-owned and personal devices, insufficient server capacity, and outdated software have forced some businesses to make rapid upgrades.

Consider the technology roadblocks you may have hit during the COVID-19 crisis and create a plan and budget to address them. This may be a short-term plan that involves moving certain functions to the cloud, or a longer-term solution that requires new operational systems. Get the ball rolling now and talk to your tax advisor about measures such as 100 percent bonus depreciation that can help ease the financial commitment.

The post-COVID-19 world will bring many changes in our expectations of the workplace, office culture, and our personal interactions. If you would like help envisioning the changes you can make in your company, and putting in place an action plan, please contact your Barnes Wendling advisor.


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