Industry Faces Permanent Changes from COVID-19

July 21st, 2020 by Drew Vass, Executive Editor

As COVID-19 placed a stronghold on the U.S. and the list of states under temporary shutdown grew, by mid-March it was apparent that in order to reopen—and remain open—door and window companies would have to change. Now it seems that with or without a pandemic some of those changes will become permanent.

We’re limiting unnecessary exposure to both our customers and employees, potentially including but not limited to wearing face masks, disinfecting tools, products, and vehicles, and practicing social distancing by limiting the number of people on each project,” wrote Asher Raphael and Corey Schiller, co-CEOs for one of the industry’s largest dealers: Power Home Remodeling. But the company also shifted to virtual connections for those stuck at home. In order to reach furloughed employees, the Chester, Penn.-based dealer deployed virtual town hall meetings, as well as mental and physical wellness programs, Raphael told The Washington Post. Now, as more companies have come to rely on those sorts of connections, many say they’re planning to make remote work a permanent feature.

Now that it’s fully proven and stress tested, working from home will become a standard component of our employment and cooperation model,” said Joe Peilert, CEO of Veka North America.

As organizations learn that they can function without everyone in the same physical locations, “It’s a true shift and I don’t think that things will go back to the way they were,” said Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., an industrial, organizational psychology practitioner and workplace expert. An industry survey conducted by [DWM]’s editors indicates that Hakim may be onto something. When asked what they expect to continue after COVID-19, working from home was by far door and window companies’ top answer. Second was the use of virtual appointments and meetings. And the fact is—for an industry that’s struggled to find talent, those measures might be overdue for prospective employees.

A Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics and Dr. Anita Kamouri, co-founder of lometrics, indicates that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds positions that can be done from home, though only 3.6% did so ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, even as some door and window companies groaned over a lack of available talent, separate studies showed that before the crisis 80% of U.S. employees wanted to work from home—if only on a part-time basis. Now, as the list of companies moving to remote work lengthens, others may find themselves pressured into those arrangements in order to compete for a talent pool that’s no longer geographically oriented. As a result, not everyone is coming back to the office. Those who do will be met with a different set of circumstances.

Everyone will return to a workplace changed in some way, though expectations will be different from person to person, and could create new tensions across generations at work,” said Jim Keane, president and CEO of Steelcase. Even with a vaccine in hand and COVID-19 in the history books, companies and workplaces will need to “be based on the ability to adapt easily to possible economic, climate and health disruptions,” Keane suggested.

In other words, though some may not be comfortable with the idea—in all likeliness—there’s no going back to the way things were prior to COVID-19.

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  1. Grim truth but, optimistic side says they’ll be a lot more room for genuine creativity

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