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
• 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