A year that created a cascade effect in personal and professional aspects globally and catalyzed transformation beyond what even the most strategic thinkers would have not imagined. 2020 has set many trends in play, and some new ones are taking shape. Here we collate what we believe are top 6 trends in the workplace of 2021.
TREND 1: The rise and the rise of Hybrid working
2020 enforced a challenge in keeping everyone connected, irrespective of where you work from an office building, home office or from anywhere else. In many global regions it broke the traditional view that work has to be done from an office, and created an acceptance to work from anywhere.
"Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents. " - Michael Dell, DELL
Even if a portion of the workforce returns to the physical offices with many restrictions, it is evident that a workplace can no longer be designed only from a physical space rather needs to accommodate virtual collaboration technologies, including video conferencing, remote security etc. This clearly shows that while the physical office is going nowhere, flexible working will remain priority and 2021 will see the further rise of the hybrid office.
TREND 2: Employee well-being & safety is a focus
The pandemic has caused a major imbalance to work-life. With long hours in remote working, and adapting to new process and technologies to use for collaboration, the line between work and home just got blurred, with much of the workforce cutting down their holidays and pushing their limits. This has resulted in burnout, and the stress has catapulted to an all time high affecting employee well-being and productivity.
Many organizations have put in place peer support groups, and conduct regular surveys and interactions to support this scenario. With virtual team building events, and online assistance programs, many corporates have taken this as a priority. Its clear that more policies will be developed around employee safety & well-being in the upcoming new year.
TREND 3: Geography is history
Remote working technologies, and the flexibility in company policies have allowed employees to take advantage to shift to native locations, live closer to family, or take up affordable new accommodations irrespective of distances.
This has also forced companies to relook at their office real estate plans, and optimize their locations, keeping in mind partial workforce use of offices. And utilize these savings towards employee collaboration technologies, and well-being.
Even recruiting talent has gone through major changes as location is no longer a major criterion, and opens the door to acquire a vast variety of greater talent at better cost ratios.
Though managing remote teams will throw new management challenges, the way forward in 2021 is to devise strategies that combine technology and process to engage a hybrid remote workforce
TREND 4: Video conquers all
With business travel restricted, and in-person engagements under radar in multiple regions, the adoption of video collaboration has boomed. As the pandemic accelerated the necessary advancements in video collaboration, even industries like healthcare and education showed high level of adoption. Not only has this solved a problem at this point, but it is rewriting a new business script and opening new opportunity areas for these industries.
Many industry experts and leaders agree that HD video conferencing is a working alternative to physically meet in-person as it presents an immersive remote collaboration experience. With a growing realization, this can propel the video conferencing adoption to all new level.
TREND 5: New technology will propel agility
"We've seen two years' worth of digital transformation in two months" as Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, described the impact of Covid-19 on the adoption and advancement of technology at work.
With the pandemic being chosen as the No. 1 trigger for digital transformation, it comes as no surprise that embracing new and latest collaboration technology will be a default choice, however each organization will customize the technology to suit their needs. And as a part of choice, we will witness the rise of subscription services on collaboration hardware, and unified communication platforms, as this helps corporates to distribute their cost of remote work technology investments.
Technologies that allow organizations to monitor and support remote working hardware will be on the rise, including the arrival of more AI assisted scenarios or sensors that can auto indicate resource utilization metrics as per the new safety standards.
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change" Charles Darwin
Organizations that adapt faster are better positioned to showcase their agility & prevail in the aftermath of the pandemic.
TREND 6: Transform, Reskill talent
The disruption caused by Covid to the global economy has widened the gap in skills and changed the overall map of skills in demand.
Globally organizations by default are exploring innovative ways of doing business. And to stay competitive as the business landscape has changed and so has the skills required. Not only has it become important that the existing employee talents are retrained, organizations also need to induct and train their new hires virtually, and this demands a robust HR and training system which is integrated well with team collaboration technologies.
With majority working from home, home offices of employees need to be ensured that they are well engaged and synchronized with the companies revised business goals. Companies will also need to transform their culture to suit managing employees working from home, and this requires consistent training even to team managers, and executives.
No industry will be left out from retraining and upskilling their workforce and this will be a top priority in 2021.
BEYOND THE YEAR 2021
“Those who meet times of historical challenge with their eyes and hearts open — forever restless and forever striving — are also those who leave the greatest impact on the lives of others,” - Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Invaluable lessons have been learnt throughout 2020 showing the complexities of our world, and at the same time the resilience of the human spirit to survive and come above. How organizations approach 2021 and how strategically they invest in bringing their remote teams together will embody the success of the future workplace not just for 2021 but for the years ahead.
Wish you a positive and transformative NEW YEAR 2021 from the Al Zubair Team !