Expert Alert: The changing workplace amid COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing nearly every aspect of American life. The workplace is no different.
University of Minnesota Professor Theresa Glomb in the Carlson School of Management’s Department of Work and Organizations, is available to speak about how COVID-19 is impacting how people think about work.
Theresa Glomb, Ph.D.
“Working from home requires new strategies to promote productivity and task focus. Distractions, interruptions, and even simple things like a poor internet connection can interfere with working. Our attention was under attack before, even more so now. We talk about IQ and EQ; however, I think the next big thing is AQ — Attention Quotient. What is your particular AQ and how well do you control your attention, prioritize targets of attention, and effectively transition your attention between tasks? We can get better at all this by instituting small practices, habits and routines.”
On social connectivity
“Having a high-quality social connection at work is a key driver of satisfaction and workplace well-being. Although these virtual connections have had some ancillary benefits, such as humanizing people by seeing them in their natural environment, they do not substitute for in-person interaction.
“For many workers who must physically be at their workplace, they may literally see a different landscape for heightened safety. This includes barriers at grocery stores, increased space between tables at restaurants, fewer clients (and tips), staggered schedules and more space in manufacturing settings. These may dampen one of the key benefits of working in these settings: interaction with others and feelings of social connection.”
On flexible and/or remote work
“Because we have shown that remote work is possible, some organizations may allow for more flexible work in the future. Due to this, expectations and stigmas about motivations for flexible work may change going forward. In the past, requesting flexible work was often about balancing work and outside of work responsibilities. In fact, there is research showing that supervisors inferred women requested flexible work arrangements for family reasons and men requested them for performance reasons.”
“The quality of management — always one of the key drivers of employee satisfaction — may become even more important, but the fundamentals of task and relational functions won’t change. How they do that in remote settings may look different. Managers with the employees working remotely need to be more in touch with how to structure work. It might be useful to examine work and find things to ‘start/stop/continue’ in this new environment. They also need to amplify their social support functions for their employees.”
Theresa Glomb is also the Toro Company-David M. Lilly Chair in Human Resources. Her expertise and research surrounds emotions and mood in organizations, job attitudes and behaviors, emotional labor, and workplace victimization including incivility, aggression and sexual harassment.
Carlson School of Management