I think it’s fair to say that 2020, for many of us, has been one of the most disruptive and unexpected years of our lives. Radical changes have quickly been implemented in terms of our normal schedules and places of work, and we have had to adapt to new ways of doing things. We have made great strides in regards to how we work, with many not wishing to return to pre-Covid practices. Employers are now putting greater importance on flexibility and general wellbeing to ensure a healthy and happy workforce. Going into 2021, we predict there are going to be many long-term changes in the workplace, even when other aspects of life return to normal.
Employees need their employers to be more flexible, and, a hybrid workplace and workforce should become the norm. In the UK, YouGov (2020) has found that most employees prefer remote working – less than 4 in 10 wish to return to the office full-time. 57% of those who were working before the outbreak say they want to continue working from home – 18% of whom want to work from home full-time, 39% wish to split their time between home and the office. Many companies will now take a hybrid approach to the workplace by allowing employees to base themselves in the office for a few days, whilst home-working for the rest. Furthermore, there is now a push to work from anywhere – not just home. This could involve employees moving countries, back to hometowns, out of urban areas and into the countryside. Workers are relocating to feel safe, to save money and to have greater space now that physical office working is no longer essential. In seeking talent, employers have also started to hire overseas professionals – this is particularly the case in the tech industry, and it’s predicted that this will become increasingly common.
It is expected that workers are placing greater importance on safety, security and health when evaluating employers. Employees expect their employers to keep facilities clean and ensure safe working conditions when in the office, putting protocols in place to limit potential exposure. Enhanced cleaning regimes and sanitising stations throughout all workspaces should become the norm, whilst we can also expect a redesign of office layouts to ensure adequate physical distancing. Workers will seek out employers that adhere to government and health guidelines in order to feel safe at work; employers will feel greater pressure to adhering to these guidelines in order to retain talent and enhance productivity.
With growing opportunities for remote working, there will be new types of employee benefits in 2021. Remote workers are now missing out on in-office perks such as on-site gyms, free snacks and social events with co-workers. Companies will need to work out how to remain competitive and keep employees motivated and engaged when working remotely. This could take place in many forms – for example, local gym membership, home delivered snack boxes (we have you covered on this front), flexitime or a home office allowance.
Lastly, wellbeing will be at the forefront. Throughout the pandemic, employers seem to have understood the vital connection between employee wellbeing and productivity. Employers are making sure to provide adequate mental health support when necessary, whether this is in the form of humans or technology to avoid being judged by a manager or co-worker. For example, many companies are now partnering with wellness tech companies such as Calm, Headspace, Talkspace and Fitbit in order to help workers stay fit, meditate, and manage any anxieties.
2021 will be another year of adjustments and developments in the workplace, and the ways in which companies manage these changes and their open mindedness to employee requests will be the defining factors in their success and survival.