The Future of Work 2021
6/7/2021 | By Marella Gimenez
The pandemic has indeed made a massive impact on almost all aspects of our daily lives, especially work. Since 2020 was the year most countries implemented nationwide lockdowns, it was the beginning of the most significant shift in the way we work. People were forced to stay cooped up in their homes, and thus, starting a challenge for most offices and workplaces everywhere.
Businesses, both big and small, had to find ways to adapt to the new setup brought upon by the pandemic otherwise, they were facing huge losses and even bankruptcy. The worldwide lockdowns have certainly disrupted the global economy, but it wasn’t for long that businesses began to digitally transform.
Changes in the Workplace in Early 2020
When employees couldn’t go to work due to the risk of COVID-19, businesses began adopting remote work. What was once a niche occurrence now became the new normal. Before the pandemic, only 16% of employees worked remotely on a full-time basis from big companies. Now, the work-from-home setup has become more popular than ever.
Most, if not all, companies were forced to champion remote work in the year 2020. The virtual workforce has proven to be essential. This new work setup is a way for businesses to continue with their operations and maintain the safety of their employees. A recent Workplace of the Future survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that companies expected around 40% of employees to adopt a remote working model in the future.
The shift to remote work did not come without its challenges. While most people were warming up to the new work setup, 71% had difficulty adjusting. Moreover, given the virtual layout, it has been challenging to maintain employee morale for 65% of employers. More than a third of them are also struggling with maintaining company culture, employee productivity, and leave regulations.
It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has given the office industry a chance to reimagine its existing work models. The pandemic has paved the way for normalizing working remotely - it is bound to change how companies run and do their work.
What To Expect in 2021
Regardless of what happens with the pandemic, the workplace has been changed forever. It will be difficult for companies to revert to the traditional 9-to-5 office work. More workers are now looking for jobs that allow more flexibility. We now know that remote work could be just as productive as skeletal work.
According to Future Forum research, 72% of workers desire a hybrid remote-office model in the coming times. While there is still uncertainty with the future of work, things will be different without a doubt. Considering the changes in 2020, here’s what you can expect in the year 2021.
1. Grow Beyond the Physical Office.
While the physical office will not completely go away, some employers will take advantage of the virtual workforce. The development of strategies, culture, and skills will not revolve around physical spaces anymore. Plus, buying or leasing office space, in the long run, can be pretty expensive, and adopting remote work will significantly cut costs, making it a more attractive option.
Remote work has opened up several possibilities. Employees now have the choice to work remotely full-time. More businesses, especially those who are just starting, might find remote work more advantageous. Since not all jobs require going to a physical office, companies are leaning more towards virtual workspaces. You will likely see more virtual meeting spaces, digital collaboration platforms, and new norms.
Additionally, we can expect that distributed offices to become more popular. Essentially, you can expect that these offices will rise to 30% by 2030. Since more employees have remote work, companies may shift their focus from a central office to establishing small distributed offices. These will give employees the chance to have co-working spaces. Flexible workspaces like these allow businesses to explore different work layouts as they see fit. Moreover, these offices offer adjustable elements and work-ready workstations for employees to move in seamlessly and focus on their tasks.
A flexible workspace already offers various amenities and can cater to all types of work! From collaborative multipurpose rooms to quiet solo workstations, small businesses can maximize productivity and boost employee wellbeing at the same time. According to International Workplace Group (2019), over 79% of global businesses say that having a flexible workspace made a huge impact on their success. It is no wonder why more and more companies are now downscaling for a more flexible option.
Despite the popularity of working remotely, face-to-face discussion spaces, brainstorming sessions, and meetings are still powerful tools in work. However, the way we design our offices might also change. Seeing that open floor plans increase the likelihood of virus spread, these might cease to exist. Businesses might restructure flexible office spaces to ensure employee safety. New designs of the future workplace now include different rooms such as huddle areas, closed-off breakrooms, more intimate collaborative spaces, and more depending on a company’s needs.
2. Create to Innovate
Given that remote work relies heavily on reliable internet and the appropriate equipment, employers must develop innovative technologies. Remote workers need to have platforms where they can effectively communicate and collaborate. When virtual meetings, digital workspaces, and online calls are the new normal, businesses need the right technology for efficient implementation.
The combination of the physical and digital space will give birth to an elevated hybrid work arrangement, with companies being able to provide technologies that enhance worker performance. Online platforms are now fundamental to the workplace. Thus, there will be more innovative digital tools to maximize and improve work efficiency and digital skills.
Moreover, some people will still need to come back to the office. That calls for the implementation of contactless technology to combat the threat of COVID-19 and ensure health safety. To encourage employees back to the office, companies must take advantage of IoT technology to improve an employee’s overall experience and boost productivity.
Apart from that, automation has become increasingly popular. While it isn’t an entirely new concept, the pandemic served as a catalyst that accelerated the development and support for automated technology. Factories had been adopting this for quite some time, and now it’s time for the workplace to follow suit. Other than the virtual workforce, you can expect the rise of the automated workforce as well.
Truthfully, there are fears that AI technology and robotic workers will replace workers. According to PwC’s Workforce of the future study, people worried about automation comprising 37% of workers. However, predictions made by Gartner say that HR departments from at least two out of the top ten global retailers will be restructured to meet the needs of robotic workers. There’s potential in combining people and technology, leading to the formation of superteams and new skills.
3. Bid Goodbye to Line-of-Sight Management
The majority of employers use line-of-sight management to make an employee feel connected to their company’s high-level goals. Making employees understand and visualize how their work contributes to the overall goals of the company. However, while it is undeniably beneficial, it is not always practical nor effective.
If anything, the pandemic has shown that productivity isn’t solely tied to where and when an employee works. Take a look at the 2020 ReimagineHR Employee survey by Gartner. The survey reveals that only 36 percent are high performers in companies that follow the 40-hour workweek standard. On the other hand, 55% are high performers in businesses that have a flexible work structure.
Given this data, more companies are expected to shift their focus to an outcome-based structure. This means that an employee’s performance or productivity will be measured by their output instead of associating it with how many hours they spend in an office. As data suggests, more flexibility allows for more productivity.
Furthermore, outsourcing has also become more common. When a business cannot keep up with the fast pace of change, employers will start to outsource or rent talent to minimize the skills gap. They resort to staff leasing, especially when their current workforce cannot upskill fast enough to meet a specific need. Therefore, companies outsource talent whenever the need arises.
Staff leasing is beneficial for growing businesses. Since the future of work involves a combination of physical and remote work, there are little to no more geographical restrictions. Employers can hire globally and access a broader range of workers. Outsourcing enables startups and small business owners to let go of operational tasks and focus on aspects that drive business growth.
Evidently, there will be many changes that will shape the future of work in 2021. At the rate we are going, it is impossible to go back to the old ways of how we do our job. These rapid changes might seem really overwhelming, and those who can adapt the quickest have higher chances of thriving in the new workplace. That is why any business needs to keep up with the trends, as these can make or break your future.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you need to prepare and adapt for what’s to come. To drive productivity and initiate business growth, you must consider adopting these new changes into how you run your company. Doing so will help you grow your businesses despite the ongoing pandemic.
But you don’t have to be alone. KMC Solutions is an ISO-certified service provider trusted by startups that can help your business adapt and thrive. We offer Flexible Workspace Solutions and superb staff leasing services that will pave the way for innovation in your industry. Our services are designed to provide you a customized service that meets your needs. Contact us today so we can begin growing your business together!