While a change in the traditional workplace has been under pressure for several years now due to digital transformation, Industry 4.0, and the rise of Gen Z. COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the demand exceptionally; driving flexibility, adaptability and technology to the forefront for a new work environment.
Many organisations, worldwide, have taken this opportunity to not only redefine and redesign office spaces but to also re-evaluate their office culture and what it will be once things settle.
Here are some changes expected to take form in the workplace of 2021
Gen Z – defining the modern workforce
Gen Z (born 1997 – 2010) is the newest participant entering the modern workforce, and this generation is approaching things differently. While over the years we have seen several era-defining demographics enter the workspace these transitions have always been relatively smooth as each generation presented relatable work habits. However, Generation Z is doing things a little differently.
Having been born and raised entirely in a fast-paced and internet-centric environment, Gen Zs are digital natives and expect the modern workplace to be swarming with fast-pace, digital collaboration software tools. This generation does not view work as a place they go to, but rather as what they accomplish in a day.
The new catchword – Remote working
The nature of remote work is rapidly transforming, propelled by workplace technology and the adoption of robust time management and communication software. Along with this, employees have also found a new appreciation for remote working and the flexibility it offers, allowing both professional and personal aspects to coexists.
While many have thrived while working from home, it has not been without its challenges. One of the biggest holdbacks of remote work is trust – managers simply do not trust their people to work untethered and prefer the approach of ‘bums-on-seats’.
Management has also had to find new ways in motivating staff remotely and adjust to the visibility they once had on work production. Aside from this, it is also believed that new staff members may not be getting adequate training and crucial mentorship they once would have received from their more-experienced colleagues.
During this transition, it is vital to remember that employment is a relationship and focus should shift from hours worked towards output and delivery. While it might still take some time to iron out all the kinks, returning to the office does not seem to be the solution, instead, companies are going to have to find new ways to merge office needs with remote working.
Centralised communication – a new must-have
Business communication has come a long way over the last few decades. Thanks to technology many innovations have revolutionised the way businesses communicate with each other, their staff, their clients and their community. Instant messaging, chat apps, and social media have swooped in, making communication faster and more efficient than ever before.
There is no denying technology has driven business communication in the right direction however this to comes with its own setbacks causing communication overload. Take for example instant messaging, while this has boosted efficiency in many ways, it has also put employees under immense pressure to constantly be available to answer messages.
Over the next year, we expect a further rise in the need for more streamlined and centralised communication tools to connect organisations not only with their clients but with their staff to.
A new priority – employee wellbeing
Over the last decade, mental health issues, burnouts, and stress had become a part of the lives of the majority of the workforce. The main reason for this was that employees were so dedicated to working that they cared less about their wellbeing. However, with things taking a drastic change over the last few months, employee wellbeing has come to the forefront become a priority for both employees and their employers.
More and more companies have put in place workplace wellness strategies such as fitness centres, cafeterias, childcare facilities, and medical care to assist with employees health and wellness. However, with remote working becoming the new trend many organisations are having to find new and innovative ways to ensure employees wellbeing. Hence we expect to see an upswing in teambuilding exercises and open-ended weekly catchup meetings to help combat loneliness experienced in remote working.
As the competition for top talent builds, we predict that employee wellbeing will become the differentiator in attracting top skilled employees.
Robots + humans in the workplace
When Ai and robots first made their way into the workplace, many expected this technology to replace the majority of the workforce. Instead, the evolution of AI and machine learning has allowed employees relief from their more mundane tasks, allowing them the opportunities for advancement and creating whole new categories of work to coexist harmoniously with robots.
Many agree that AI and machine learning bridge skills gap, facilitate faster decision making, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs.
There’s no denying that technology will continue to be at the heart of team performance, especially now that it enables and enhances the flexibility in where, when and how people work.
Focus on soft skills
As change in the workforce continues, we are seeing jobs transform into something new while others disappeared completely. However, with technology taking centre stage in the workplace, there has been a shift moving from hard skills to soft skills such as analytical skills, written and verbal communication, and leadership.
These soft skills are difficult to quantify, yet they play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. They are key to gaining visibility, building relationships, and creating opportunities for advancement. This soft skill trend will continue to gather momentum as it helps facilitate the human connection needed for high-performance teams.