What’s the future of work and workplaces?
In this dynamic, fast-paced world predicting the future is hard even during normal circumstances, during a pandemic it becomes tough and complex. The only thing certain is uncertainty. Whilst it’s been a decade since remote working tools have been around, widespread use only began once lockdowns were imposed and employees were asked to work remotely.
In 2012, just 39% of US employees worked off-site at least some of the time. By 2016, that figure had risen to 43%. As of mid-April, however, 62% of US employees are working from home because of fears about the coronavirus. The coronavirus will continue to have a lasting impact on how work is carried out in the future. It is imperative that HR leaders respond effectively in order to ensure business continuity and stand out from its competitors.
Below are a few emerging trends that have been predicted to transform the future of work.
1. Contingent workers - As uncertainty and economic crisis continue to loom, companies prefer hiring workers on a contingent basis. This also allows companies to be flexible but for workers, a sense of uncertainty prevails. Research by Gartner suggests that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time workers with contingent workers to reduce cost. While the contingent working plans and gig work offers continue to increase, HR leaders need to identify ways in which performance management applies to these workers.
2. Increased remote working - Thanks to the pandemic, millions of workers are enjoying the joys of working from home and also its hassles. Work from home involves a great amount of flexibility and freedom. Reports also suggest that it has resulted in an increase in productivity. However, in order to develop professionally, employees will have to meet digitally and be prepared to adjust to the employee experience strategies. All said and done, remote working is here to stay several years even after the pandemic is over.
3. Work for well-being - While employee wellness was rated very highly by employees in 2020, it’s usually related to a separate set of employee strategies and programs. In order to improve employee wellness, it must create a sense of contribution that translates into true organizational performance. Wellness must be designed into the daily work routine. Some methods to improve well-being are improving employee autonomy, flexible scheduling, and work opportunities, using technology to enhance connectivity, and physical redesigning of the workspace for onsite employees.
4. Shifting focus toward skills - Pre Covid-19, critical roles were regarded as the ones with critical skills. To build the post-pandemic workforce, employers must focus on skills rather than roles. Roles with unrelated skills or capabilities are not required for an organization to meet its strategic roles. Employees should be encouraged to develop skills that open up multiple diverse career opportunities rather than preparing for a specific role. Employers also need to play their part by offering support to those who lack those critical skills.
Both employers and employees are undergoing a stressful period in a dynamic business environment. Employers can use this crisis to turn into an opportunity to create a more empathetic, inclusive, and supportive workplace for all. They can also be better prepared to weather any future disruptions.