2020 was a gamechanger. Many of our clients tell us that, even after the promised end to the pandemic, things are going to be different. Based on what we’ve heard, here are 3 predictions for changes across the world of work in a post-COVID 2021.
Trend #1: Remote working
Experts have been telling us for years that we should reconsider the daily trek to the office. It may have taken COVID-19 to make us recognise the truth of what they were telling us, but they were right. Thanks to ubiquitous networks, smart devices and online tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, homeworking is now an achievable reality.
In 2020, many employees were amazed to discover that they could do much of their work more efficiently from their own sitting rooms or studies than from the office, and that the commute which had been taking up their energy for years or decades was a monumental waste of energy.
We think 2021 should be the year when employers and employees collaborate to end the tyranny of commuting. The first step is to commit to a full review. For each and every employee, ask for what portion of the week you actually need them in the workplace. HINT: for many companies, the answer will be ‘two or three days’.
Once you’ve figured out that the business will survive without their daily physical presence, the next step is to commission systems that ensure you get the most out of their remote input – and that they enjoy maximum flexibility, of course. Whereby, FaceTime or other free tools may be all you need, or you may prefer something more sophisticated that integrates directly with your other systems.
If the prospect of spending money on new software doesn’t appeal, look on the bright side – you’ve effectively halved the size of your workforce, and now you can downsize your office provision accordingly. And, of course, the planet is beaming its thanks!
Trend #2: Wellbeing checks
There’s nothing quite like a potentially fatal illness to focus the mind. In those worst-case scenarios which we all saw on the news, ’employee wellbeing checks’ came to mean thermal cameras and on-the-spot temperature readings.
But, for those of us working away from the frontline, new awareness of the costs of illness to our businesses led also to an increased concern for our co-workers’ quality of life. HR departments around the world rejoiced as senior management finally got the message about the productivity improvements that accompany good mental and physical health.
We’ve come to value each others’ contributions more in 2020, and we’re predicting that that trend will continue into 2021 and beyond. We know that there’s a strong correlation between poor mental health and absenteeism. It really does pay to keep an eye on your employees’ wellbeing.
Trend #3: Automated absence management
The last decade has been one of complicated timekeeping. With extended working hours and ubiquitous flexi-time, times have been hard for those managers who still relied on spreadsheets and wallcharts to keep track of their teams’ comings and goings.
But the shift to homeworking has made manual leave-checking all-but-impossible. The only way to be sure that everyone is pulling their weight – and making full use of their statutory and contractual allowances – is to switch to an automated absence management system.
A good AMS will show absences across the board, giving you and your HR team a company-wide perspective on legitimate holidays and illegitimate absences.
As developers of our own AMS, we’re keen to see how trend #3 plays out in the months to come. But we’re also alert to each new development in the world of work. If you’d like to share an insight that’s helping you out of the dark days of 2020 into the light of 2021, drop us a line.