The emergence of Covid-19 forced many organizations to find alternative ways to get work done. Now, some states and municipalities are beginning to loosen shelter-in-place restrictions and workforce managers are preparing to operate in a post-pandemic world. While companies and people rapidly shifted gears to adjust to the lockdowns, the post-pandemic return will require a more measured and prudent approach.

Here are some anticipated changes to the world of work as you prepare to operate in the new normal.

Cautious return to office, new policies in place. When organizations determine they are ready to start their return to the office, they will likely bring both employees and contingent workers back to the office in increments — initially on a voluntary basis to a very reduced office capacity. For more on the new office environment, read this week’s CWS 3.0 article by SIA’s Frank Enriquez.

Collecting CW contact information is valuable. Staffing firms, as the employer of record, are typically responsible for keeping and updating contact information for contingent workers; however, it can be difficult for contingent workforce managers to get access in a crunch situation when account managers and others may not be available. While some talent buyers may hesitate to gather or update contact information directly from their contingent staff — including phone numbers, addresses and emergency contacts — collecting that personal information does not add additional co-employment risk and can be valuable in the event of a quickly changing environment such as we experienced with Covid-19.

Portfolio rationalization. Contingent workforce programs will need to rationalize their staffing partner delivery portfolios to new levels of staffing demand in order to create efficient, cost-effective and profitable partner relationships. On the surface, it may seem like having an abundance of suppliers vying for an open position means a better chance of finding a good candidate and filling the position. However, the opposite is true, with too many suppliers leading to inferior service and candidate quality.

Retaining Talent. Buyers may be more inclined to utilize a contingent workforce to keep fixed costs low, but some workers who may previously have chosen contingent work may be more inclined to seek permanent employment for the increased security it brings. In addition, some industries may initially find themselves competing pay-wise with bolstered unemployment checks and other social services offered in the crisis that could encourage low-wage workers — both contingents and employees — to postpone their return to the workforce.

WFH success broadens horizons. The pandemic forced organizations to rethink work-from-home policies — including for contingents — and the results have oftentimes been better than expected. Expect the explosion in remote working to make buyers more open-minded and receptive to using resources that are sourced online in locations other than the company, including offshore.

More tech daily. Organizations have been forced to learn and adopt new human capital management technology solutions to get work done in a collaborative way. As a result, expect a renewed understanding and appetite to amplify these technologies. Expect an increase in the use of virtual assistants, digital HR document management, video recruiting, onboarding technology, talent analytics and more.

Proper planning and communication will play a big part in ensuring a smooth return-to-work experience for your organization and for your workforce. Solid leadership and legitimate concern for the safety and success of your workers will pay dividends down the road in the form of a strong employer brand and loyalty from the workers who have been a part of your firm’s unexpected journey.