The year 2020 has put unprecedented pressure on businesses around the world. The value of real estate has nosedived because many companies are thinking of asking most of its employees to work remotely. An impending recession because of the Coronavirus pandemic is one more thing that has companies bothered. There is no doubt about the fact that some of the changes in the workplace are sure to set the tone for workplace trends in 2021.
Many of the changes that we saw in 2020 might outlast the year, are we ready for what 2021 holds for us? Are businesses equipped to handle the influx of challenges for the coming new year? In fact, the year 2021 will bring in a bit more normalcy to our lives, both personal and professional. But since 2021 is preceded by a disastrous year for the entire world, are we even ready to face the new questions that it will ask and the challenges that it will pose. We can only hope that the year 2021 is going to be a bright one for all of us.
Why should you improve your workplace?
Providing a good working environment is quintessential to ensuring business success of your organization. It is the most basic facility that you can offer them. It will increase how they view you as a business leader, how they look at the organization, it will motivate them to put extra efforts, increase their morale and give them the necessary mindset to deliver fantastic results.
Keeping things like employee engagement, employee satisfaction, employee happiness, and workplace happiness as a priority will ensure that you will achieve all of them. Businesses should understand why they need to provide a top-notch workplace for its employees. Would you believe that having a positive environment actually increases business profitability by 21 percent? What do you say to a statistic that stares at your face! If the number doesn’t prod you to provide a better working environment, we do not know what will.
If you are a business that never cared about the welfare of its employees, then this is the time for you to invest in providing a better environment by caring about the digital workplace trends that are listed below.
Let us look at 10 workplace trends for the year 2021:
Workplace trend #1. Remote Work
The importance given to office spaces is going to change. In fact, it has already changed big time because of the lockdown that was announced across the world fearing the virus. Most of the office-going crowd across the world hasn’t returned to their cubicles in its entirety yet. Many employees are also comfortable with the idea of working from home, although people do wish that they are given the choice of doing a combination of both working from the office and the home- a hybrid workplace as everyone calls it. Thanks to a huge spurt in technological growth, it isn’t hard to make your entire workforce work from home unless the nature of their work involves requiring them to be at the office so that they could access certain equipment that cannot be made available at one’s home.
While remote work has reached its zenith this year because of lack of options, companies must exercise caution if they are going to completely do away with offices. Why? Because working without meeting one’s colleagues at all can be difficult because interpersonal relationships are necessary.
Workplace trend #2. Employees are expecting safety measures
After the pandemic started, everyone was a bit more careful about their safety because you never know where you are catching the virus from. The only way you can be safe is by taking all precautions. Employees want to know if employers are ready to provide them with the necessary atmosphere to work with safety and peace. Businesses need to communicate often with their employees about how they are ensuring them a safe working atmosphere and what they are doing to achieve the same.
Companies should follow all the safety standards that the government and the WHO has announced. Use technology and every other resource to keep the working environment as safe as possible.
Workplace trend #3. Diversity is encouraged more
After the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, companies are being sympathetic to the cause of diversity. Businesses that have a sizable number of employees should have a diversity department which ensures that people of all cultures, colors, gender, race, sexuality and ethnicity are given equal opportunities at their organization. If the company hasn’t so far been at its best game in terms of opportunities given to people of all kinds, then they should invest the time and resources necessary to make it happen. For people who are in the minority, the pandemic has been even worse because the system is skewed against them. It is in their best interests that businesses do everything in their power to address workplace inequality.
Many employees have also vowed to work with companies which are ready to make an effort towards being more inclusive in its workforce. There have been various research studies which have proved that a diverse workspace is great not only for all the employees since everyone feels respected and heard but also for the organization because of the high productivity that they show.
Workplace trend #4. Demand for reskilling
Covid-19 has affected the economy and our working culture like no other. With the impending fear that automation will reduce the number of jobs in the market, people are planning to upskill themselves so that they remain a desired asset in the job market. On top of the automation fear, many people have already lost their jobs because many companies let go of their employees due to the fear of losing business. That’s exactly why more and more employees are demanding that their employers train them in skills so that they can serve them better.
Newer technologies are coming up, markets are shifting, and retraining and upskilling employees is the need of the hour because they don’t want to be left in the lurch either. Many employees believe that the pandemic has increased the need for businesses to support them with training so that they can be a bigger asset to the company.
The gig economy is also rising, so it is for the best if employers encourage their employees to work on getting their skills improved. It will offer employees the flexibility to freelance on the side while employers can have some sort of arrangement where they can pay their present employees based on the work done instead of a monthly salary. That’s a win-win for everybody.
Workplace trends #5. Digital transformation
One of the biggest reasons why many businesses around the world didn’t find it impossible to shift their work completely to a remote capacity is because of technology. Without teleconferencing apps, project management apps and the likes, it would have been impossible to manage something like this of gargantuan proportions, especially for large companies. At the forefront of something like this has been digital transformation. With the help of digital transformation, companies have been able to accelerate their implementation of technology with relative ease.
Digital transformation is a long drawn process that requires a complete overhaul of one’s existing legacy systems as well as a cultural and mindset shift. It gets difficult to have a successful digital transformation if you don’t have your employees ready for it yet. Why? Because they are the ones whose work will be affected since they need to be ready to work with different technologies and processes that they might not be familiar with.
Workplace trend #6. Need for centralized communication
The way businesses have communicated over the years have completely changed. If one takes a look at how business communication has progressed over the years, it will be almost impossible to wrap one’s head around it. There was a time when there was no email, but businesses did function and communicated with its customers, vendors and amongst themselves on a timely basis. With the swift changes in technology, the expectations have increased too. With instant messaging apps, live chat options, social media apps, etc., the world has shrunk to a size that everyone is just away by the click of a button. When the world closed for business, everyone managed to make do with the help of video-conferencing apps. While it has been great for communication, there is also immense pressure on the employees because of the need to answer messages immediately. Employees are getting overwhelmed with information that they receive from different communication tools, that too from various stakeholders.
In such a scenario, it is imperative that businesses come up with a centralized communication tool. While business communication is necessary, having to search for the relevant ones can be overwhelming after a point. Companies should invest in cloud communication software tools and make use of the enterprise-grade features that are available. It will reduce the burden on the employee and make their lives easier.
Workplace trend #7. Work-life balance
With many employees working from home, the line between work and personal time gets blurred, especially favoring the former. It results in employees not being able to do any of their familial duties. Since getting a job in the current scenario is more difficult than ever, businesses are milking this opportunity to overwork their employees without pay. Unfortunately, tactics like this won’t be successful in the long run. The modern employee is looking for work-life balance so that they can have a fulfilled life.
Are the employers happy when it comes to providing work-life balance even before the pandemic situation happens? How did they treat their employees during the pandemic? These are some of the questions that the employees will ask to everyone while they are evaluating the firm. Providing your employees work-life balance is as important as things like salary, benefits, job security, etc.
Workplace trend #8. Investment in employee wellbeing:
Issues like mental health, burnout, stress, etc., can take a toll on the average employee. It will lead to a loss in productivity and reduce the effectiveness of their work. There was a time when employees putting in extra hours of work were labeled with terms like ‘hustlers’, and they were considered cool. Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and businesses have understood that the mental well-being of the employees is more important than getting things done earlier or not getting a shut-eye means more productivity.
Modern workplaces are equipped with facilities like fitness centers, childcare, medical care, sleeping rooms, access to a mental health counselor, and so on. All of these will give an opportunity for the employee to feel better. Even having events like team-building activities are a part of making the employees feel good about themselves and the people they work with. There has been an increase in the number of businesses offering such facilities because they know that employees are using all of this to evaluate the employer.
Workplace trend #9. Focusing on gender equality:
The pandemic has forced many women to quit their jobs because it is extremely difficult to take care of household duties when you are working at a full-time job too, especially if you are not working from your office. The phenomenon of the ‘working mom guilt’ will also be exacerbated because being in the same house as your kid but not being able to give them time can be psychologically taxing for a woman. The next year will be crucial for businesses that are serious about keeping their women employees happy, satisfied and mentally ready to take on the challenges that the year will bring about.
Having more women in the workspace is good for the organization as women tend to be better at communication, and creating a feeling of togetherness. Most of the gender diversity campaigns have been about increasing the number of leadership positions that women hold. But the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has completely undone all of the work that has been done so far since more than 1.1 million women have already left the workforce. The hope that more companies will take the responsibility to create women-friendly workspaces is a reasonable ask.
Workplace trend #10. Focusing on soft-skills
No matter what kind of changes that we will see in the field of work aided by technology as well as by external circumstances, there is one constant that is of prime importance—the importance of soft skills. Right from explaining the project to a client to managing employees, everything depends on your soft skills. Without them, it is extremely difficult for businesses and individuals alike to move forward. Soft skills include written communication, verbal communication, analytical skills, etc.
Soft skills are difficult to quantify, but they are absolutely pivotal to the performance of an employee as well as that of the company. For high-performance building teams, you need a motivated leader who is not only technologically sound, but also has the necessary abilities to convince a set of individuals to work with a single goal in mind. Having soft skills will improve the chances of someone getting ahead in life.
Bonus Workplace Trend #11. Innovate to save yourself:
There is no doubt about the fact that 2021 is going to be challenging. While it might not be as challenging as the unprecedented nature of 2020, it certainly is not going to be a cakewalk, but there is a lot of positivity surrounding the dawn of the new year. To face the challenges of the new year, only companies that are committed to innovation will find it easy to survive and thrive. The market forces are not always going to be favorable, and they are also going to be unpredictable on top of it. Even everyday business problems like retaining talent and retaining customers are going to require a marathon of effort. So businesses that are hoping to stand the test of time should continue to innovate at a pace and frequency that is unmatched by their peers.
You cannot expect to be slow and hope that you will be able to get the best results in your industry. Learn how to be agile and nimble so that you are better positioned for success. Work on creating incremental changes every day so that you are equipped to be innovative when the time comes and an opportunity pops up.
These are just a few of the trends that we discussed; there are many more aspects of business that are equally challenging and deserve focus on the part of companies and leaders alike. Every year we see new things that alter the way we function. Some of them will have a lasting impact while others will fizzle down and not have the effect that we expected it to have. Businesses need to stay on top of what matters to their employees.
Businesses need to remember that their success solely depends on the existence of its employees. They cannot achieve success without keeping their employees a priority. Whether you are a new business owner or you are a veteran in your industry for quite some time, the happiness of your employees is directly proportional to your business success. You cannot achieve one without the other. Employees should also ensure that they are giving their best so that the business is always at the forefront of success. If you care about some of these modern workplace trends, then ensure that at no point you will ignore these things.