Let us not say much more about 2020. It was not a great year for most; however, it did offer a plethora of learning opportunities for us on both a personal and business level.  COVID-19 has certainly been a catalyst for change, and we should not expect this to slow down even when we return (sooner rather than later we all hope) to a feeling of suspended ‘stability’.

For the most part, we are all craving positive news and being able to return to meet in person again but not as we knew it before. Here are 5 Workplace trends that I anticipate seeing in 2021: 

  1. The Hybrid Workplace
    A term used more frequently over the last 3 months. Do not expect employees to return to the office 5 days a week and back to some sort of 9-5pm working hours.  We anticipate that this could be a 50/50 split with employees commuting for only essential meetings where it requires more collaboration, strategic or creative input. We have already seen workplace spaces been redefined and streamlined and we expect to see less office desk space and more collaborative working spaces. It goes without saying that there will be an uplift in flexible working and remote working, given that we have been forced into it for most of 2020.

  2. Role of HR
    I have read many articles about HR now having a seat in the board room and the CHRO title being popularised more. However
    , in reality, HR (or ‘People’ as it more often referred to now) is still not considered a strategic contributor to many executive teams in both large and smaller businesses. With HR being more integral in 2020, through workforce planning, there will be a huge need for talent and skills mapping, upskilling, increasing focus on mental health and well-being as well as a increasing diversity and creating an inclusive workforce. If there is a year to invest in your people, then 2021 should be it.

  3. Diverse & larger talent pools
    The door has opened to casting a larger net for talent with the adoption of flexible and remote working. We expect to see much more of this in 2021, even with Brexit. In addition, businesses need to innovate and increasing the diversity of their talent (age, background, education, experience etc) is going to be essential to help drive this for many, especially those businesses who have a long-serving workforce.  We expect to see new jobs created and companies hiring out with their previous boundaries and broadening their views on who could be considered for the job.

  4. Antifragility (beyond resilience)
    We really like this term, not just because we are trailblazers, but resilience refers to coping with, whereas antifragility is about getting better. We expect to see a shift in focus around ‘resilience’ where it is no longer about creating coping mechanisms, but it is about making marked change for the better especially if we are not returning to our previous known way of working and living. We will see a change in many company cultures through revised value systems and desired behaviours resulting in more expectations around bravery and boldness.

  5.  ‘Skills First’
    With more of a focus on innovation in 2021 
    and a real acceleration through digital transformation, employees need to be upskilled to do jobs differently, more efficiently and add more value than before. The tide will turn, and it will no longer be acceptable to coast along in roles, the bar has been lifted and this will require a monumental focus on skills and training forin some cases, entire teams within the workforce. The skills agenda will be on the table at all Executive meetings as without this relentless focus you cannot innovate further and compete in a new and changing marketplace.   All said, this relies on businesses having a clear vision of what their future looks like and this being understood in relation to current and future capability. 

If you found these trends helpful, please share with others.  

At Connect Three we help businesses and people change. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss these trends further or if you are looking to see how we could help support you with any of these trends in 2021. 

Thanks for reading, 

Colin