The COVID-19 situation made us realize that nothing ever has absolute certainty anymore. If truth be told, this notion already goes way before COVID-19 even happened. With technological advancements that continue to inspire improvements in multiple facets of the workplace, and with an infinitely wide spectrum of resources that help individuals develop both their soft and hard skills, no one will ever be able to perfectly predict the dynamics of the workplace in the next years. 

The circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many employees to subscribe to what is known as remote-working jobs. Instead of the traditional working-in-an-office arrangement, workers are now maximizing the space in their homes to make room for a home office which is where they will perform their duties and responsibilities for work. No one from five years ago would have seen this contingency coming. 

This blog will therefore analyze the trends deemed crucial in shaping the future scenario in the workplace. 

The Future of Work after COVID-19

Among the ways COVID-19 affected work is through the sudden disruption of the labor markets in 2020. Not only was the economy down and struggling, millions of people also lost their jobs because companies had to cut back on expenses and employ retrenchment measures. Many other workers rapidly adjusted to a work-from-home environment and clung to a routine where they had to balance both their work and household responsibilities. 

In an in-depth analysis by McKinsey & Company, they presumed that jobs with the highest physical proximity are the jobs that are likely to receive the greatest disruption after the pandemic. For example, jobs in medical care are ranked the highest in terms of overall physical proximity score because these are jobs that require the most human interaction and onsite performance of responsibilities. Therefore, these are also the jobs that will see the greatest transformation after the pandemic.

Below is a list of work arenas ranked according to overall physical proximity score: 

  1. Medical care. 
  2. Personal care. 
  3. On-site customer interaction. 
  4. Leisure and travel. 
  5. Home support. 
  6. Indoor production and warehousing. 
  7. Computer-based office work. 
  8. Classroom and training. 
  9. Transportation of goods. 
  10. Outdoor production and maintenance. 

Work arenas that received the most severe disturbance during the pandemic like both medical and personal care are also the work arenas likely to be more unsettled after the pandemic. On the other hand, work arenas with the least proximity score like computer-based office work, and classroom and training comprise of jobs that do not necessarily require workers to accomplish their work responsibilities onsite.

Companies that belong in these work arenas have mitigated the remote working situation by employing e-commerce and other digital transactions that lessen contact among employees. 

TREND 1: Learning is prioritized.

One characteristic that helped today’s top companies succeed is their willingness to learn and adapt to changes. This is especially true today with the work environment undergoing digital and technological tectonic shifts that require individuals to be “jacks of all trades” rather than “masters of one”. In other words, the pace at which the world is growing today presupposes that specializing in just a single work arena is not safe anymore.

Every worker must now balance their knowledge on multiple fields and industries. 

Being willing to learn, relearn, and unlearn is a skill that will definitely keep your company on the board for a long time. This involves lowering your pride and accepting the fact that you do not know everything. A mindset like this will push you and your employees to absorb as much knowledge as you can, and eventually help you improve on the skills necessary to keep an edge over your competitors. 

Learning also makes you adaptable as it helps you become more open to change. Developing a growth mindset and believing that you are capable of learning new things will help you become more prepared to adapt to the changes happening in your profession and the workplace at which you are operating in. 

Hawley Kane, who serves as the Head of Organizational Talent and Leadership Development at Saba Software draws a correlation between learning and performance. According to her, for high-performing organizations, learning is not a mere outcome, it is a behavior that should drive performance.

Heide Abelli, Senior Vice President of Content Product Management at Skillsoft shares the same thoughts with Kane. She feels that a huge trend to look out for in the field of organizational learning is “the growing sense of urgency to address gaps in the readiness of the workforce to execute on the digital agenda”.

Regardless of the work arena, learning is an inherent step in the road to success. The ever dynamic operations of work are all heavily dependent on whether learning is prioritized and invested in. 

TREND 2: Employee experience is valued. 

In a recent Deloitte University study, it was found that almost 80 percent of executives from around the world deem employee experience as a “very important” asset in company success. This is not actually a surprising statistic considering most successful CEOs credit their people for the performance of their companies.

This goes to show that the root cause why top companies maintain their stature is because they value their employees by providing them with an employee experience that is not only centered in a high-paying salary but a highly-engaging experience as well.

A Gartner research says that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their companies than their less engaged counterparts. The positive effects of this goes beyond just employee loyalty. It also eradicates employee turnover which can cripple a company.

The costs of hiring, onboarding, and training of employees can be huge and may gradually pile up until your profits are negated. Investing in employee experience is therefore one way to keep employees loyal to your company which will ultimately avoid repetitive disruption. 

TREND 3: Leadership ways are reaffirmed. 

The evolution of the work, worker, and workplace necessitate the evolution of leaders and their styles of leadership as well. In today’s work environment, age-based seniority has become archaic and employees are now on the lookout for employers who can provide them growing relationships and value-adding opportunities.

Leadership development practices help people learn skills and attributes needed to be an effective leader such as how to communicate a message to a crowd, or how to motivate and inspire a team of employees.

Leadership sets a clear vision to a leader’s subordinates and colleagues. This vision then gives them a better understanding of organizational direction and makes them realize their roles and responsibilities in the company. 

Sallyann Della Casa, Founder at GLEAC, elaborates her take on workplaces

Workplaces need to be employee-centric, there is no longer any specific size that fits all. Many workforces are now virtual, work at home is a normal day at the office, teams assemble and dis-assemble based on projects with no fixed roles or titles but instead matching competencies for project needs.

Future leaders are therefore warranted to be capable of dealing with the circumstances of a dynamic workforce, building meaningful relationships, and creating a winning strategy every day at work.

With the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives, humans have to exploit their edge over robots—the capacity to feel emotions. One way to achieve this is to maneuver a more human-centric leadership approach.

Taking your subordinates out for coffee to discuss their feelings about the project you assigned to them or reaffirming and validating them when they perform well at work are two examples of a leadership approach that is catered toward human emotions. 

TREND 4: Collaboration among employees is invested into.

Prarthana Ghosh, Category Editor for Toolbox HR believes that the future of work demands that organizations make more investments in creating a culture of creativity, and both collaboration and communication are facilitated and encouraged. According to her, collaboration in this matter not only is the cooperation between teams and functions but also the smooth communication among business leaders and Human Resource heads. 

She cites Engelbert Camasura, President and CEO of Asia Select, Inc. who pointed to the importance of the role of HR in making the AI revolution and the digital transformation a “dual success”. Camasura believes that Human Resource executives should take more responsibility in an organization’s chain of command. Business transformation must not only be partnered by HR, but should be co-led. 

The AI revolution implies that data need to be regarded not as a challenge but as a stepping stone for greater endeavors. This warrants that businesses make a shift and focus on the resources-mindset-data triangle in order to reap the benefits of the revolution. 

TREND 5: Wellness and happiness at work are necessitated. 

Dr. Rajiv Kumar who is the President and Chief Medical Officer at Virgin Pulse enumerates the three most important reasons for organizations to embrace workforce wellness. These are: 

  1. Employees expect and demand that their place of employment offer this benefit. Millennials, which comprise the largest share of our workforce today, choose where they work based on a company demonstrating that it cares for them. An important way to show that care is by offering a comprehensive wellbeing program. 
  2. Bottom-up wellbeing programs are an essential tool to foster workforce collaboration and cohesion, which leads to strong, vibrant corporate cultures. 
  3. When implemented correctly, wellbeing programs can save organizations a lot of money in healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism and presenteeism, and even decreased employee attrition.

Employees in the future will not only look for a company that will pay them a six-digit salary. Rather, their priorities when looking for jobs will now include their mental and emotional health.

They will ask themselves questions like: “Will I be able to maintain my mental and emotional health in this company?” or “Is this employer lenient enough to consider my emotions valid when I experience a slump at work?”. Creating a healthier and happier workforce that will guide employee health better will, without a doubt, be necessitated come future time. 

Final Thoughts

While COVID-19 has made us realize how pointless to some extent future planning can be, we cannot underestimate the validity of the trends presented to us by technology, the generational shift in the workplace, and the evolving interests of the consumer. If you want to keep your business running for a long time, it is important that you learn to value your company’s most valuable asset: your people.

If your people are well-engaged, mentally and emotionally stable, and compensated appropriately, then you should expect them to stay loyal to your company. On the other hand, if you realize you are treating them like chess pieces that only perform tasks limited to their assigned roles, then that could be a sign that it is time that you reaffirm your leadership approach. 

Talk to us at Rivermate about how we can help you hire remote employees and perform payroll!