2020 will be the year that will go down in the annals of history as the year of despair, ill-health and helplessness that mankind had no control over. A virus that took over our lives in such a dramatic way that we were left gasping at our changed personal and work lives, travel, food, relationships, business.
An unprecedented year that will lay the foundation of the future ahead of us. But with failures comes learnings. The pandemic has taught us patience and has given us hope for 2021. Could we ever think that businesses and work can be conducted with ease from the sofas in our houses? That the economy can, even if in a wobbly way, continue to move without fancy offices operating it? Did we think that work from home would be such a real solution now.
No, we didn’t and that’s what 2020 has taught us. So, here is a futuristic outlook of what work trends can look like in 2021, the Year of Hope.
Technology will Rule –
The need for high end technology has been felt for years now, but the fact that technology will become the only way business is conducted has been realised now. Video conferencing, Zoom sessions and other virtual devices are business needs and processes now.
As per data, Zoom alone saw approximately 300 million daily meeting participants throughout April. Other new age technology platforms like Nvidia give weightage to capturing human expressions and also reduce bandwidth.
Employee Relations –
With most employees working virtually from home, employee well-being and motivation will become crucial for corporates ad human resource departments. There will be an increased connection between productivity and well-being and companies will end up spending a substantial amount on this.
Health and emotional well-being will be the mantra for 2021.
Growth and Training –
If a significant number of employees are not in the office, then their personal growth, training and retraining also becomes a challenge. The buzzword for 2021 will be online trainings, online manuals and material. Physical trainings especially the off-sites etc will be cut drastically.
Retraining people to work remotely while they are at home does pose a challenge. E-learning and related tools will help handle the isolation. AI-powered training platforms will create ease of handling this large churn out.
Virtual Customer Connect –
2021 will be the year of virtual customer interaction. Gone are the days when physical meetings with customers was the trend and expectation. Now it will be more remote.
Universal Location –
In the world of virtual, location will hardly matter. With effective technological interventions, detailed work plans and trainings, employees can now work from anywhere in the world. Geographical divides are passe!
Gartner predicts 47% of companies will let employees work from home full-time after the pandemic, with 82% green-lighting the practice of part-time.
WIFI and Internet –
World Economic Forum has, in a research, stated that 3.7 billion people globally have no Internet services. Companies will have to relook this large mass of people in the future. They cannot be left behind. 2021 will see WIFI and internet reaching even the remotest of places. Connectivity with high speed broadband connection will be essential.
Automation of Routine Work –
With less number of employees in work places, companies will automate the maximum without human intervention. This can have a two way feel. One, employees may lose jobs. Second, it could lead to enhanced qualitative work profiles for employees. Companies will have to dread this route carefully.
Business Travel could totally disappear –
As travel of all kinds is halted, the frequent business travels, which were a given till now, will disappear. Gone are the days of hectic morning flights across the country for one meeting or frequent flier points getting accumulated – all this will get impacted drastically and only essential and business critical travel will be allowed.
Greater interest in social distancing will limit large group events such as conferences and conventions for the future too.
Office set-ups will change –
As trends in 2020 show, enormous offices were either closed down or compromised upon because of work from home scenario. This could continue as companies will realise that spending exuberant amounts of money on elaborate office spaces isn’t required. At best, sitting arrangements on rotation basis could continue with large conference rooms for meetings. Co-working spaces could do well as businesses will find that a much cheaper and viable option.
With work and personal lives getting inter mingled, professionals will demand more flexibility in working hours too. The typical 9-5 kind of timings may not be pertinent any more. Trust, empathy and professionalism to deliver results without having a constant watch, will gain focus. Technology and re-design of work portfolios could help in this shift.
Equitable work opportunities –
A common issue till now was always about women having to take breaks in their careers for personal and family reasons. It was difficult for them to get back into mainstream business without the usual difficulties. But with the pandemic, work from home has now become an acceptable norm. This will help women, who can now continue work without a substantial break.
A flexible work culture will ensure equal and equitable work balance between genders.
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