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8 Evolutions to Remote Work in 2021

As the global transition to remote work nears its first anniversary, we captured eight (8) reflections from Harvard Business Review, Economist, World Economic Forum and elsewhere to help you anticipate what the coming year will bring. Here are the top 8 forecasted evolutions to remote work in 2021.

 

(1) THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ IS NOW

84% of employers are set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote work – with potential to move 44% of their workforce to operate remotely. To address concerns about productivity and well-being, 34% of leaders report they are already taking steps to create a sense of community among employees online and looking to tackle well-being challenges posed by the shift to remote work.
Source: World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report 2020

 

(2) FINANCIAL WINDFALL FOR COMPANIES
If the estimated 48 million employees who have a remote-work-compatible job were to work remotely at least weekly, U.S. employers will save more than $500 billion per year. That’s due to savings on real estate, but also increased productivity and decreased costs from absenteeism and turnover.
Source: Fast Company, January 2021

 

(3) EMPLOYERS MANAGE THE LIFE EXPERIENCE OF EMPLOYEES
The pandemic has given business leaders increased visibility into the personal lives of their employees. Employers supporting employees in their personal lives measure a 21% increase in the number of high performers. Employer support for mental health, financial health, and even things that were previously seen as out of bounds, like sleep, will become the table stakes benefits offered to employees.
Source: Harvard Business Review, January 2021

 

(4) THE BOSS BECOME MORE EMPATHETIC
Leadership” will require much more than driving results and productivity – it will mean keeping company culture alive and serving as a lifeline to employees as they navigate remote work. Leaders will have to get to know their teams on a much deeper level. Talent development will need to be rethought to prioritize “soft skills”, and leading with empathy and understanding.
Source: World Economic Forum, January 2021

 

(5) LEVEL PLAYING FIELDS LEAD TO MORE EQUITABLE WORKPLACES
When a whole company (or planet) transitions to remote work simultaneously, it puts everyone on an even playing field – in more ways than one. It should make it more equitable for people to get praised and promoted for the right things – that is, the results that they drive.
Source: Fast Company, January 2021

 

(6) FLEXIBILITY SHIFTS FROM ‘LOCATION’ TO ‘TIME’
The next wave of flexibility will be around when employees are expected to work. Organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where and how much they work, see 55% of their work force as high performers (compared to only 36% for organizations with standard 40-hour work week). There will be a rise of new jobs where employees will be measured by their output, not hours.
Source: Harvard Business Review, January 2021

 

(7) NEW “CRITICAL SKILLS” FOR EMPLOYEE OF THE FUTURE
Critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving have stayed at the top of the “list of top skills” with year-on-year consistency.  Newly emerging are skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility. 
Source: World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report 2020

 

(8) MANAGERS WILL BECOME MORE ATTUNED TO EMPLOYEE NEEDS
Pre-Pandemic, when employees were asked what it is like to work at a firm, they responded by describing offices or perks. Post-Pandemic, employees emphasize how the firm communicates with them and creates a discernible company culture. Executives need to tailor their behavior to individual employees’ needs. Though managers may have feared that remote working would allow employees to slack, it may be that managers have not been up to the challenge.
Source: Economist, December 2020

 

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