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The Pandemic & the Workforce (Editorial)

1 min read

Wars and pandemics tend to rearrange the world. World War II brought women into the paid workforce in vast numbers for the first time, and the bubonic plague of the 14th century — the Black Death — helped end feudalism in Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception, as two articles in The Wall Street Journal last week indicate.

The first was about a trial of the four-day workweek in 61 British businesses. The businesses gave their 2,900 workers one paid day off a week to see whether, while working less, they’d still be as productive. The majority of the companies said they planned to stick with the arrangement “after logging sharp drops in worker turnover and absenteeism while largely maintaining productivity during the six-month study.”

The pandemic normalized remote work and flexible schedules and opened up many businesses to new ways of working. 

Meanwhile, another WSJ article reported that the number of big office landlords defaulting on their loans is increasing, “fresh evidence that more developers believe that remote and hybrid work habits have permanently impaired the office market.” 

We don’t know how these changes will shake out, but business leaders would be wise to heed the words of Slim Chickens CEO Tom Gordon, who told Arkansas Business recently that the pandemic had taught him how to “react and adjust” and that he was carrying that lesson into the future. 

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