The new workplace normal and the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative ethnographic study

Individual Author(s) / Organizational Author
McCallon, Katy Jean
Northcentral University
February 2023
Abstract / Description

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) a global pandemic. Immediately following the announcement, states began mandating lockdowns for all non-essential businesses. The lockdown strategy was implemented and ORAU abruptly shifted their work culture to a work from home status. Thus, the identified problem addressed in this study defined the new workplace normal and provided a better understanding of the employees’ expectations of the ORAU workplace post pandemic. The abrupt shift in workplace norms from working in a physical brick and mortar location to teleworking changed the workplace forever. The purpose of this qualitative study was to address what the new normal workplace would look like at Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and to account for the different expectations employees had of their employer (ORAU). The survey data was collected from voluntary employees of ORAU at different levels of the management hierarchy. The qualitative ethnographic research design was focused on real-life experiences of how COVID-19 impacted or changed the expectations and relationships of employees of ORAU. The findings from the questionnaire confirmed that the majority of ORAU employees preferred and expected to continue teleworking across the organization, demanded continued as well as increased flexibility, and brought attention to the need for continued collaboration and socialization among employees in a telework environment. Due to these realizations, it is recommended that ORAU focus on maintaining and updating their company culture with the priority being focused on employees utilizing the Total Rewards Strategy. This study highlighted the crisis that changed the work environment at ORAU and the recommended expectations of the “new normal” which has become semi-permanent in the post-pandemic business world. (author abstract)

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P4HE Authored