An important lesson from history is that every crisis presents risks and opportunities. In 2020, COVID-19 devastated large parts of the economy, put millions out of work and created the direst health crisis of the 21st Century. But it also overturned outdated beliefs about remote work, sparked companies to build programs that foster emotional and cultural bonds between teams, and has put even the most vigorous company cultures through the crucible during historically trying times.
What’s going to happen to how we work next year? Here’s a topline summary of the five most compelling workplace trends in 2021.
Trend 1: Office life will return but it will never be the same
Millions of Australians are working from home in 2020. But we expect most will return to in-person workplaces – at least part-time – in 2021 once COVID-19 is under control.
Remote workforces work best with at least some in-person office work. Fully remote teams have financial and recruiting benefits, but also suffer from lower spontaneity, more challenges forming bonds and lower innovation.
Prepare for an unprecedented wave of experimentation and innovation around hybrid remote-in-office roles – part remote and part in-office – in 2021 and beyond.
Trend 2: Employees expect progress, not just pledges, on corporate DEI
The Black Lives Matter movement cast new light on racial inequality in 2020, and companies are being pushed to make tangible progress on diversity and inclusion like never before.
Hiring for diversity, equity and inclusion(DEI) roles have been on the rise for years, and that will likely accelerate sharply in 2021. The public and employees alike will expect progress reports in 2021.
Trend 3: Salary Expectations Get a Permanent WFH Rehaul
Millions of Australians are thinking about moving to new cities while working from home(WFH). If they do, brace for big salary adjustments in 2021 as workers face a shifting competitive landscape.
Workplace perks like free catered lunch and company parties are on hold during the pandemic. But they’ll return in 2021 as teams scramble to rebuild social bonds and reignite a spirit of innovation once the pandemic is under control.
Trend 4: Even the best company cultures must adapt to new post-COVID-19 realities
Companies have lost an important way of controlling corporate identity and employer brand during COVID-19: The design, look and feel of corporate headquarters.
Online employee reviews are playing an outsized role in employer brand during work-from-home. Companies who survive and thrive in 2021 will be those who embrace employee sentiment data as business intelligence.
Companies don’t need lavish corporate campuses to build culture. Three factors matter most for worker satisfaction, none of which depend on maintaining in-person offices: Having a compelling company mission, promoting transparent and empathetic leaders, and building clear career opportunities for workers.
Trend 5: The COVID-19 Recession Is Probably Already Over, But These Jobs May Never Return
The global economy suffered a massive blow in 2020. But even assuming the virus is under control in 2021, it promises to be a year of rebuilding, recovery and job growth as employers, workers and consumers adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. Many jobs were lost and won’t be coming back soon. Even when the COVID-19 recession is a distant memory, there will be lasting impacts on workers, workplace trends and jobs. People will save money and plan for retirement differently and demand better health and flexible time benefits from employers.
These workplace trends are what we believe will take hold as the pandemic continues to unfold – and assuming no other major unforeseeable event takes place in the coming year.