Summer 2020 - Page 7

words, it’s time to act to establish a new social contract for the 21st century. How has COVID-19 affected this?* One of the most profound changes in the COVID-19 crisis has been how the social contract has changed, particularly between employers and employees. An implicit contract is based on accepted and generally unspoken assumptions about “the way things are.” Consider these profound upheavals in that contract: • The accepted boundaries between work life and home life dissolved as millions of coworkers suddenly “did life together,” videoconferencing into each other’s home offices, kitchens . . . and sometimes lesson plans. • The emotional well-being of the workforce has become a greater and much more visible priority, particularly as employees suffer the trauma of loss—including, tragically, the loss of family and friends. • Biases against working from home are dissolving. For example, one quasigovernmental agency shifted its staff to remote working and discovered that productivity increased despite years of assumptions to the contrary. • Businesses and governments experienced the downside of job fluidity, wrestling with how to support gig workers, who now make up a large portion of the workforce. *Deloitte, Reopening the workplace: The resilient leader’s guide, A workplan for business recovery from COVID-19