In 2020, the workplace evolved and adapted in ways that no one could have predicted. With COVID-19 restrictions in place and efforts to keep workers safe, many employees moved from the downtown office to the home office. Client meetings that normally took place in person, suddenly started taking place on platforms such as Zoom and WebEx. And organizations that were reluctant to accept anything other than a handwritten signature, abruptly shifting to accepting electronic signatures. So what will the 2021 workplace now look like?
As we head into 2021 with optimism that a vaccine will soon be widely available, it might be tempting to think that the workplace will go back to the way it was before the pandemic. This however is highly unlikely. In fact, we believe that COVID-19 has changed the workplace forever and because of this, employers will have to learn how to respond to this new reality.
More flexible work arrangements
Although flexible work arrangements have been around for quite some time, they became even more prevalent during the pandemic. Employees were not only working from outside the office, but they may have been working alternative hours as they juggled their family responsibilities with their children being home from school.
As a result, many employers learned that their employees could be just as productive from the home office. And this raises the questions about how much office space an organization really needs and how employers can offer more flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis.
Workers get reimbursed
Moving to the home office meant that many employees were using their own resources rather than company resources. As a result, many employers are reimbursing employees for some expenses necessary to conduct business from home.
In some countries, governments are even introducing legislation to ensure that employees get reimbursed for these expenses. However even without legislation, employers would be smart to ensure that workers have the essential tools and resources they need to effectively do their jobs outside of the office.
Greater emphasis on mental health
If any year was the year to focus on mental health, it was 2020. But without being able to see employees and talk to them face-to-face on a regular basis, it has been more challenging for managers and employers to pick on clues that an employee might be going through a period of negative emotions.
As the workplace becomes increasingly digital, feelings of loneliness and isolation may become more common. Employers will have to develop new approaches to mental health.
A culture of trust
While some employers may have been skeptical about having their employees work from home, many found that they could be trusted to be just as productive from their home offices. Other employers are opting to have monitoring software installed on their employees’ laptops, however those who do so must do so in compliance with privacy and data collection laws.
A more diverse workforce
An increasingly digital workplace also means and increasingly diverse workforce. Since many employees can now work from anywhere in the world, it means they can also live anywhere in the world. Job vacancies no longer have to be restricted to a particular geographical area.
Of course, this also means that employers need to rethink the way that they onboard, train, and communicate with new employees. Everything has to be as accessible as possible.
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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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