Written by Josh Musominari
We live in a time where making predictions is dangerous, with numerous factors influencing rapid change at each turn. The pandemic has cut technological, social and lifestyle norms frequently but we have found ways to adapt and believe that 2021 will solidify some key factors of the new working world.
The establishment of the Hybrid model
One of the phenomena reported by numerous HR professionals during the pandemic has been the concept of ePresenteeism. In what has been a difficult adjustment for many professionals this year, the future of remote working has a lot of executives questioning the best way to proceed. While remote working theoretically has numerous positives for employees, ePresenteesim and the desire to show professionalism or dedication while working remotely has led to average reports of employees being actively online for up to 15% more time than contract expectations. Analysis of Microsoft Teams data has shown more communication between colleagues taking place outside of working hours and on the weekends with the blurred line between work and the home being distorted. This is understandable and could be driven by multiple factors, including plainly the lack of availability of usual social activities and commitments, and economic pressures. While benefits have been reported, considering the full picture hasn’t always led to the same conclusions and even though some organisations have boldly committed to fully remote models going forward, we broadly expect to see a middle ground approach allowing the effect of a hybrid approach and the new norm to be judged in action.
Advancements in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
The last 12 months have seen organisations making major efforts to invest in their D&I programmes in response to advancing social efforts. With new budgets being committed and a change of focus, it will be interesting to see how these initiatives take form and the results that will be generated. With numerous studies showing the positive commercial effect diverse organisations generate for both corporate profitability and the economy, there could be great results as these programmes are launched. Seeing organisations push towards these models will definitely slowly change the makeup of companies going forward.
The implications of remote working on local economies are significant. With numerous enterprises relying on foot traffic and crowds, the changes in consumer habits are clear, with large cities experiencing this in the highest proportion. Studies on urban centres have shown the difference in activity between lockdowns, with larger increases seen further outside of city centres. This highlights that a lot of organisations chose to continue remote working when not mandated and economic activity relocated to suburban areas. These changes and patterns suggest that this could impact local services providers seriously and could change how our cities look over time. We may see more towns and economic mini hubs spreading across different local authorities and divestment in the city centre office trend over time.
Employee wellbeing and advancement
As we near the potential returns to the office we expect to see the next phase of HR response focused on supporting employees and aiming to deliver greater senses of wellbeing. With remote working still likely to be a factor, eLearning and wellbeing platforms are likely to become even more prevalent and essential. This is crucial as a lot of careers may have been stifled and interrupted due to the sudden change in circumstances, damaging development and progression while priorities shifted. Finding tools and methods to ensure that employees can continue to develop and shape their careers and skillset despite disruption to some of these practices. Fortunately, eLearning has always been a viable alternative in the educational sectors but finding ways to implement better practices supporting remote career growth is a challenge. We anticipate that organisations will be looking to find new ways to tackle these problems with digital solutions being implemented to support these efforts.
With the broad changes of the last year, there is a lot to look forward to. In all the challenges presented there has been accelerated technological and cultural shifts and we look forward to seeing how the new working world continues to develop and how we collectively respond.