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Headshot of Bob Patience.

Bob Patience     |     
VP, Head of New York Life Business Solutions

After experiencing prolonged lockdowns and other measures aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, businesses across the country are preparing to get back to work. For many, the workplace will seem quite different from just a few months ago.

Employees and potential employees are likely to have new expectations for the way they work, and customers' expectations have also likely changed. Business owners who are willing to tweak their traditional work processes will be better able to recruit and retain good workers and foster goodwill among customers and employees.

To be prepared for success in a new, post-pandemic world, small and medium businesses can consider a variety of steps to build stronger, more resilient workplaces.

Increase focus on worker health and safety

Some 77 percent of companies plan to change workplace safety measures and requirements once they start to transition back to on-site work, according to a recent PwC survey of more than 300 U.S.-based CFOs. For many, the changes will include reconfiguring workspaces to accommodate more space between individuals, providing on-site testing for COVID-19, requiring personal protective equipment such as masks and conducting daily temperature checks.1

Provide new options for remote work

Mandatory closures have demonstrated that many workers have the ability to work successfully from home and that remote workers and teams can be extremely productive with the use of cloud-based tools. By allowing workers to continue working from home, companies can cut costs on real estate and keep their employees safer and healthier. Large numbers are expected to take advantage of those benefits, as 49 percent of respondents to the PwC survey said remote work will now become permanent for some roles in their organizations.1

Reconfigure work schedules

For employees who are unable to work remotely, organizations may consider flexible scheduling or creating shifts to reduce the number of people on site at the same time. Until a reliable vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed, social distancing will continue to be important for avoiding ongoing breakouts. Just over half of respondents to the PwC survey say they plan to change shifts or alternate crews to reduce possible exposure.1

Offer additional support for frontline workers

In recent years, many companies have focused on decreasing the cost and compensation of their frontline employees, but the pandemic has highlighted the value provided by these workers. Cashiers, delivery drivers, shelf stockers and warehouse workers have made it possible for the rest of the country to stay safely at home.2

The country's newfound appreciation for frontline workers is driving changes in working conditions for many of them. For instance, big companies, including Walmart, Target and Kroger, have increased wages and offered bonuses for hourly workers during the pandemic. Small and medium businesses that rely on hourly workers to succeed might consider new ways to support and show appreciation for these employees, perhaps   with increased pay, new benefits such as paid sick leave, or other perks.2

Adapting to the new normal

The coronavirus pandemic may have created a world that would have been unrecognizable only a few months ago. But with creativity, flexibility, and a healthy dose of compassion for workers and their families, businesses can build workplaces that adapt to these new realities and expectations and prepare for a brighter future.

About the author

Bob Patience is Vice President of Business Solutions at New York Life. Bob oversees our employee benefits business, including our payroll deducted individual life products and our group life and disability offerings. In Bob’s four years with New York Life, we launched our group offerings, re-priced and redesigned our individual products and re-positioned the business to support our agents by focusing on the financial needs of small businesses, their owners and their employees. In addition to his oversight of Business Solutions, Bob is also leading a number of work streams related to NYL’s pending acquisition of Cigna Group Insurance. Before coming to New York Life, Bob spent 30 years with Prudential, where he held a variety of product, underwriting, segment head, and technology leadership positions. Immediately before coming to NY Life, he was the P&L owner of Prudential’s $3 billion block of group life and voluntary benefits business.  Bob has a BA from Colby College in Maine and a Masters in Business Administration from New Jersey’s Montclair State University.

This article is provided only for general informational purposes and is not directed toward any particular business or location. Business owners should consult with legal counsel or other knowledgeable advisors on governmental requirements and best practices before taking any action regarding this material.


1PwC, “How finance leaders see a return to work," PwC's COVID-19 CFO Pulse SurveyApril 27, 2020

2Bill George, “The coronavirus pandemic is changing work forever," Fortune, April 10, 2020.

This material is provided for informational purposes only. New York Life Insurance Company, its agents and employees may not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Individuals should consult their own professional advisors before implementing any planning strategies. © 2020 New York Life Insurance Company. All rights reserved.