In 2020, the workplace was reconstructed. Most workers had their work and personal lives collide, as working from home became the norm. Family and work life were suddenly one in the same environment. Although this was no easy feat, people adapted. Resilience grew as people got used to balancing work, children, partners and pets. As well as dealing with the added stress and anxiety, a global pandemic brings. Yet, amidst the chaos, change and challenges, small chinks of light began to reveal themselves.
Working from home was productive – perhaps even more productive than traditional office working. People cut their commute time, spent more time with their children and got a better work/life balance. Employers began putting employee well-being at the forefront of their strategies, understanding that employees needed support in this area in order to be productive, engaged, energised and happy at work. The outlook of the future of the workplace in 2021 and beyond builds upon some of the learnings from 2020.
The Workplace in 2021
Well-being and wellness have been trending topics on the rise for years now. However, there has been a distinct difference between the priority of this topic between employees and employers. Employers prioritised well-being in the workplace lower than employees did. In 2020 however, the view began to shift. Employers have been privy to witnessing the distinct relationship between employee well-being and loyalty, productivity and higher engagement levels.
Many employers leveraged technology to stimulate employee well-being. Organisations provided apps such as headspace free of charge to employees to encourage them to meditate, unwind and separate work from personal time.
Daimler, a forward-thinking German automaker company, implemented a ‘mail on holiday’ initiative long before coronavirus. ‘Mail on Holiday’ is an optional email setting where incoming emails are automatically deleted if the recipient is on annual leave. An email sent to an employee on holiday is returned to the sender with an automated response. They have two options 1) resend the email to a colleague if it is an emergency or, 2) resend the email once the recipient is back from their holiday. This means no one returns to work after annual leave to a full inbox. This great initiative, it not only makes others think about the necessity of their emails, but also allows Daimler employees to switch off.
We expect more and more employers to start putting their employee’s wellbeing further up their priority list utilising technology to implement initiatives.
Dispersed Workforce and Larger Talent Pool
According to a study conducted by Airbnb 83% of workers would relocate to work remotely. This shows us that the workforce is embracing the flexibility of the workplace on a new level. We have already seen a movement of people to more rural settings, or smaller towns rather than cities since the pandemic began. As more companies announce permanent flexibility, people who were living in the cities for work have started to move away gaining more fresh air, space and often at a reduced cost. The workforce has become physically and geographically more disperse and this trend is set to continue to rise.
This also opens up the talent pool available to organisations looking for talent. As remote working becomes more accepted and normal, organisations who would have looked for candidates within a commuter distance, will now start looking further afield.
Hybrid Workplace-Workforce Model
More and more companies are beginning to introduce permanent flexibility in the workplace beyond coronavirus. 72.2% of employees have said they would like a hybrid workplace model introduced in their company thus giving workers the best of both world. A better work/life balance but also the social aspect lost and craved so much in this past year. We envisage an increase in companies permanently moving towards this model of working. Again, utilising technology to support remote teams collaborate together with some in the office, and some at home.
Demand for Retraining and Reskilling Increases
We saw unemployment levels rise phenomenally in 2020 with organisations having to make large cuts to their workforce as some industries, such as aviation, were irreversibly damaged by the impact of COVID-19. For many, this meant unemployment, and a skill set no longer in demand. A tough pill to swallow. Reskilling and retraining became a necessity to secure a new role. This option was not only for those who had been laidoff, but also for employees within organisations who needed to retrain to remain relevant. Many organisations were forced to restructure.
However, some forward thinking organisation began huge internal reskilling programmes. There are skills that will be more in demand in the future than others. Organisations who are aware of this, and the gap in their current workforce, can move ahead and fill any future gaps by having a ‘’reusable’’ workforce. Where you can reskill and retrain internally. This will change the dynamics of the workplace again as it becomes a fluid, evolving space in which learning and development is at the forefront of its success.
Internal Redeployment Increases
More organisations began looking inwards for talent, deploying workers into other areas of the business. Career Star Group specialises in this area. We have helped many organisations map out their talent, complete skills gap analysis, understand and reveal the untapped potential of employees and supported in the deployment of internal talent mobility initiatives. We envisage an increase in organisations looking at other options than redundancy. Unleashing the potential of a workforce is often overlooked. However, it could save organisations large recruitment fees, increase brand reputation and encourage workers to be more engaged.
No longer are workers a cog in a big machine. In 2020, we saw inside people’s home, their families and an insight into people’s personal lives that would usually have remained unknown. Employees became individuals. Individuals with talents, passions and a voice. Giving power to individuals to show employers their talents and passions, and how this might be of benefit to the wider organisational strategy, will be an increasingly popular way to unleash workforce potential. Find out more about redeployment here.
Digital transformation grew by 2 years within 2 months in early 2020. This is quite an impressive mountain to have climbed in such a short space of time. The momentum of this digital transformation will continue to grow. The tech sector has grown leaps and bounds within the last year developing services and tools at such a fast rate to try to keep up with demand.
Rise of Gig/Freelance Workers
Employers began to rely on flexible workers more to keep up with the changes they had to implement in 2020. The rise of the importance of freelance/gig workers should continue as organisations make short-term hires to fill in short-term gaps. With the increase reliance on this group, the working rights for this growing group of workers could also change.
The Rise of HR Role
The COVID-19 pandemic forced HR into a key role determining organisational success. HR teams suddenly had to transform working conditions, policies, work with IT teams implementing new networks, providing hardware, software and ensuring health and safety measures were met in individual homes rather than offices. HR teams were transitioning leaders into the virtual management arena, providing extra training and support. They were heading the well-being support of employees, and being the voice between organisation and employees. Most of this completed whilst simultaneously transforming their own processes. On boarding and off boarding had to be done virtually, compassionate conversations had to take place on Zoom rather than face-to-face. HR were the heroes behind the success of the transition of the physical to the virtual workplace. We see the role of HR only growing in the future.
The workplace has transformed dramatically over the past 10 months. Rather than a physical space, for many now the workplace is a concept. The next year will bring further changes and the evolution of the workplace, and therefore, the workforce moves into full swing.
Career Star Group is here to support your HR team with your workforce requirements. Get in touch today for more information.