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How COVID-19 could change the workplace

Working from home is now the "new normal" and some of the things we've learned may stick around post-COVID-19.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Twitter announced this week that even when its offices eventually reopen, most of their employees can work from home permanently if they want to.

Working from home is now the "new normal" and some of the things we've learned may stick around post-COVID-19.

"I think the office space is actually going to be changing," said Pri Shah, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

RELATED: Twitter will let employees work from home forever

The open office trend has led to more shared spaces in workplaces. Shah predicts those employees will be working from home longer.

"It might actually make people rethink how we're constructing our office space. Maybe we've gone a little too far on having so many open spaces where we might not be as well protected as if we had some offices," Shah said.

It could also change how we collaborate. Those who were used to working on projects together in-person, are now navigating collaborating with team members virtually.

"As they get used to working in kind of a common Google doc and things like that... it's harder to go back to how we used to do things. So I think there's going to be some learning in our post-COVID era where we're going to realize, 'Hey, maybe how we're once collaborating wasn't the best way and there might be other ways to do that virtually that could still work even if we are able to come together physically,'" Shah said.

There's also the potential for companies to save money on things like rent.

Many organizations are now set up with the right technology to allow more flexibility.

RELATED: Some of your work from home questions answered

Even once restrictions are lifted, a Gallup survey found that about 60% of Americans would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible while 40% said they'd like to return to working at the office as much as they previously did.

But many people who were already working from home prior to COVID-19 are quick to point out that working from home now isn't the same as doing so during a pandemic. 

"There's still going to be a need for people to meet, to gather, to share and learn from each other but also the technology has allowed us to recognize that there are new ways to doing that and I think it's going to be embraced going forward," said Doug Loon, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

According to Loon, they've heard from many members as they consider their back-to-office work environments.

"First and foremost what I'm hearing is it's a priority of organizations to protect workers, to create a safe work environment. So looking at best practices, looking at what they can do to bring them back in a safe way," Loon said.

Even with the advantages of working remotely, Loon said there are disadvantages that companies need to consider.

"Working remotely can create a sense of independence but it also can be lonely. So I think it's really critical for organizations to think creatively about how you sustain those relationships," Loon said.

Shah agrees that the work-from-home model is not right for everyone, saying, "It might empower people to actually create environments that could be better suited for their lifestyle and personality."

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what companies in Minnesota are hiring. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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