As New Jersey and the nation reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are evaluating and implementing measures that address the meaning of the workplace.

The pandemic is permanently changing the workplace and how businesses are adapting to a new normal, said Jeanniey Walden, chief marketing and innovation officer at Daily Pay, a financial technology firm specializing in payroll systems.

The author and Rumson resident said with the new normal, many companies are adopting on-demand programs that allow for easier access by employees to their wages so they can take out portions of their paycheck in advance to pay for necessities.

The bottom line is many employees don't want to go back to work to the office full time anymore, said Walden. Daily Pay is seeing that 67% of employees are asking for a modified schedule permanently two to three days a week in the office and at home two to three days a week. That's to manage to their own personal situations, whether it's taking care of younger children or a family member in need.

She said digital acceleration is the biggest change affecting employers and employees. A lot of employers in industries such as restaurants have had to accelerate the acceptance of things like contactless payment, which they would not have accepted in the past.

Telehealth had a five year ramp-up time period forecast and now everyone is doing virtual doctor-patient visits.

Walden said there's also been a significant change in remote working. If someone would have asked a CEO what they thought about having 15 to 25% of their workforce working remotely or two-thirds working in an office a couple of days a week prior to COVID-19, they most likely would have laughed at it.

"But today, with the pandemic, we're seeing that the expectation is that no company is going to have a 100% in-office workforce unless you're in an essential role," Walden said.

But this is good for employers because they're seeing increased job satisfaction, increased productivity and reductions in the need to invest in additional real estate in certain cases. It's also beneficial for the working family that can now work on their own time and taking care of their loved ones.

Employees really win here, said Walden. They're getting on-demand pay, on-demand working from whichever location where they feel the most productive. She said it's creating a work environment where there's a level of trust and appreciation that did not exist pre-COVID-19.

Business travel will be redefined in the post-corona era at least for the next 12 to 18 months, said Walden. People who used to travel for work have learned a new appreciation for doing business and networking remotely. This has forced people to build business relationships on a blended work-life persona versus traditional work persona. For example, if two people met at a business conference, they would introduce themselves by name and the business they represent. Chances are the meeting would be strictly professional. But now with video-conference meetings most often taking place in someone's home, people get a personal look into each other's lives.

"When you Zoom, you get this feeling of higher quality connection. We're seeing this pay off with higher quality business arrangements; more deals, better deals and longevity," Walden said.

Also be on the lookout for the micro-event, said Walden. The quest for creating experiences with buyers has been accelerated. No more crowded events and conferences — they will be replaced by virtual meetings and smaller experiential events.

She also predicts a short-term or a more residual remote work policy probably through the end of this year and possibly through the first quarter of 2021. No company wants to bring their staff back too quickly where they can't take care of their personal safety.

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