COVID-19 has changed the way we work, and this will have a lasting impact on the future of work. The question for human resource (HR) leaders is how much these trends have and will alter pre-pandemic strategic goals and plans, and what immediate action and longer-term adjustments must be made as a result.
I met with Frances Duffy, our HR leader, to understand the trends for 2021. This is what I learned.
The Hybrid office
The workplace has slowly changed over the past decades, and the change is accelerated by COVID-19. We are now moving into the next phase: the hybrid workplace and we predict all organisations are going to adapt to this. COVID 19 made most organisations move to work from home/remote working model almost overnight. This has hugely accelerated the trend for flexible working, breaking long-held beliefs and ‘myths’ regarding what could or could not work if the workforce is distributed or working remotely. While going back to the pre-pandemic days may not happen again, sustaining a remote workforce is also not sustainable. There is a balance needed to strike that balance and introduce a hybrid model. At the same time, each organisation must understand well what that model means for them and how to support flexible working. This we believe will emerge as a prominent trend in 2021.
Employee experience is a top priority
Amid the shift to remote work and hybrid workforce models, HR professionals are concerned about how they can preserve company culture and ensure employee experience keeps up with employees’ expectations and needs. With the change in ways of working in 2020, HR teams will now have to redesign the employee journey and measure the virtual employee experience. Elements like work-life balance, wellbeing, connection, and collaboration will be crucial both for employee satisfaction and the optimisation of business outcomes to ensure innovation and productivity don’t suffer as employees not have a different expectation from work and workplaces. HR professionals will have to create a workplace where all employees can thrive while feeling the sense of community. This is what will keep HR professionals busy in 2021.
Agile organisations will go a long way
To compete and/or be relevant in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, organisations must discover and implement new ways of working. They need to have the agile technology so the business can adapt and the right kind of employees to be able to perform in an agile manner.
Organisations that invested in employee skills with a future lens are the ones that were able to survive the pandemic in this year. This means investing in employees, so they can adapt to any situation, motivate their teams, are able to innovate and are able to rise to any business challenge. In 2021, HR professionals will have to look for ways to develop the skills of these employees and make them leaders for the future. This is an investment in people to instil a breath of skills that they will need to foster the right culture in the organisation.
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