2020 was a year like no other. The word of the year for 2020 could very easily have been “pivot.” A number of the trends for 2021 were birthed out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few trends for 2021.
1. Remote Working
2020 saw the increase of remote working. Experts believe remote working is here to stay. It has been estimated that 27% of the workforce will be fully remote in 2021. This will continue to reshape the future of work. There will be a shift from hours worked to work done.
There are key benefits associated with remote working including:
- Decrease in non-essential meetings
- Increased flexibility and productivity
- Reduction in commute time.
- Corporations will need fewer large office spaces
- Opportunity to expand talent pools because location is no longer a factor
- Employees can earn more. Ability to apply for employment outside of geographical area.
Remote working does come with a cost. Employee engagement is harder in virtual environments. Isolation. Corporations are required to determine data access and how to effectively secure it. Investments in IT systems and infrastructure will be increased.
2. The Continuation of Virtual Meetings
When the COVID-19 health pandemic hit in 2020, businesses were forced to pivot. Employees were no longer going into the office. Business as we knew it was changed forever. One of the most notable changes was how meetings were conducted. Meetings went from in-person to virtual. Zoom. Cisco Webex. Microsoft Teams. GoToMeeting. RingCentral Meetings. ClickMeeting. These have become very familiar names. The use of virtual meetings is expected to continue in 2021.
In 2021, the focus will shift toward better virtual user experiences. This means making it easier to join all the virtual meetings that we will be attending. 2021 will also see enhanced security and privacy features making it harder for video hackers to gain access. Downloaded specific software and applications on devices will see a decline and be replaced by browser-based video platforms. This will be accomplished through increased levels of encryption, detection systems and multi-factor authentication.
While virtual meetings allow us to remain connected, they can also lead to burnout. Avoid multitasking while on virtual meetings, it can be distracting. Also, take mini breaks during long calls.
Who can forget some of the phrases we have heard while Zooming – “You’re on mute”, “Can you see my screen?” or “Can everyone mute themselves please?”
3. Rethink Business Models
In 2021, companies will be forced to rethink their business models. Strategic business plans for 2021 will include adjustments to help them move toward success. Businesses will be looking to move from surviving to thriving. That model also will include more support for employees. That support could include office equipment for remote workers, focus on mental, physical and financial well-being and ways to achieve work life balance. Corporations will also be evaluating the need for large amounts of office space.
4. Purpose and Meaning in Our Jobs
2021 will find corporations putting a larger emphasis on the connection between jobs, objectives and organizational missions. If companies are unable to show purpose and meaning in jobs, their recruitment efforts could be challenging. One tool which can aid in employee retention is to show employees how their contributions are making an impact not only on the organization but also in society. Companies will champion and offer opportunities for employees to develop and adapt based on potential, instead of current skills or certifications.
Other trends worth mentioning are increased empathy, social engagement through the use of influencers, combatting systemic racism and the use of data to better understand customers.
Until next time …