Post-Covid Future of Work Trends
We thought that we were invincible. That 2020 is going to be the year when our stock markets will trade new highs. When our local business will finally go international. When we can finally buy our dream home, have that dream vacation, or live that dream retirement. But then Covid happened. And in just a couple of months, the world came to a standstill.
The Covid-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting impact not just in our personal lives but also in the way we work. A 2020 Gartner study identifies nine key areas – future of work trends – where change is more likely to take place.
We’ve broken them down below:
Trend #1. Increase in Remote Work
Even before Covid, remote working has been gaining traction in various companies across the globe. And for good reasons. Several studies show that remote working can help improve employee productivity, as well as help companies, save money from overhead costs (e.g. office space). Despite this, one of the broad challenges remote working faces is the need to effectively manage remote teams. Not to mention some job roles are simply not feasible for working at home.
Covid-19, however, taught us a lesson about the importance of resilient business structures — albeit in a very hard way. This pandemic has reignited interest in remote working as more and more people are required to stay home and strict social distancing measures are being implemented in our offices. Preliminary data from a Gartner study shows that 41 per cent of employees will work remotely after Covid-19. The survey also shows that 74 per cent of business owners want to hire more remote workers post-Covid.
Remote work is here to stay and is more likely to remain at higher levels even after this pandemic ends.
Trend #2. Expanded Data Collection
Are my employees working on the project? Is my team procrastinating? What can I do to make them more productive while working at home?
These are just some of the questions a manager or business owner asks himself as more and more employees shift from traditional office work to working from home.
Fueled by technology, businesses are most likely to invest heavily on employee tracking software as they work remotely. Consequently expanding their capability to collect, store, and process data. Employee monitoring can be divided into five subcategories:
1️⃣ Call Monitoring – recording your employees’ interactions with clients for quality control purposes. This is common at call centres.
2️⃣ Email Monitoring – this is usually done to protect the company from information leaks, detect potential abuse, and avoid inappropriate behaviour. Large companies also monitor employee emails to make sure that workers are not wasting company time.
3️⃣ Time Tracking – using apps that monitor computer activity. Most modern time tracking software can detect idleness and will not log the time as billable time.
4️⃣ GPS Tracking – commonly used in business where employees spend most of their time on the road. Truck drivers are a classic example.
5️⃣ Health Tracking – as companies prepare for normalcy after the pandemic, we will not be surprised to see them investing heavily on tracking their employees’ health — primarily to make sure that everyone is healthy and fit to work again.
Trend #3. Contingent Worker Expansion
While it’s true that the gig economy is one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, analysts are confident that they are here to stay. In fact, a Gartner study suggests that employers are looking to expand their gig worker population to allow more flexibility in their workplaces.
Almost 70% of gig workers were not satisfied with the support provided by the company they work for
Gig workers or independent contractors are usually hired and assigned work online. They do their jobs remotely and while they enjoy flexibility, they often suffer from low pay and lack of benefits. They can act as buffers for your company and can be tapped on an as-needed basis.
Your biggest challenge here is how you can legally differentiate between your full-time employees and gig workers. Contractor-employee misclassification is no joke and you might end up with lawsuit if things go south.
Trend #4. Employer as a Social Safety Net
If there is a silver lining in this pandemic it will be this: During Covid-19, employers see how important employees are in their business. We were reminded, albeit in a hard way, that we still have humanity.
Corporate social responsibility is becoming quite a trend even before the pandemic as Millenials enter and lead the workforce. After Covid-19, employers are looking to further this community involvement by providing employees with expanded health coverage, mental health support, and financial aid.
“This pandemic has shown how critical it is to embrace our humanity, be understanding and caring — and that holds true for companies, too. Make sure ‘human’ is prioritized in Human Resources. At Ally, we’ve been driven by what’s right — just like our mantra to ‘Do It Right’ — and we will do whatever we can to support the well-being of customers and employees. Our already-existing financial, medical and mental health benefits were well designed to help employees through this crisis — and we further expanded our offerings to include additional services, like free telemedicine consults, that are tailored to this specific crisis. Everything we do is through the lens of care and support. That’s the culture of Ally. When you get the culture right everything else falls into place and there is no better time to let that shine than right now,”
– Kathie Patterson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ally Financial.
Trend #5. Separation of Critical Skills and Critical Roles
Before the pandemic, employers believe that critical roles require critical skills. But Covid-19 taught us otherwise. Employers realise that there’s a new set of critical roles that is more important — these are the roles that are needed to successfully run essential workflows.
With this in mind, we can see companies shifting from preparing employees for the next critical role to encouraging them to learn multiple skillsets. This makes employees more versatile and opens up multiple areas of advancement for them.
For employees that lack critical skills, consider crafting a career development program that will equip them with the skills to support employees in critical roles.
Trend #6. Humanisation (or Dehumanisation) of Workers
While some companies restored our faith to humanity during this pandemic, there are also some who continue to push their employees to work in high-risk situations without offering them enough support. Other companies have also become more increasingly task-oriented than before. This future of work trend is expected to continue post-Covid.
People first and workers second.
Or workers first and people second?
How you treat your employees during and after this pandemic will have a lasting effect on your business.
Trend #7. The Emergence of New Top-Tier Employers
In relation to the future of work trend above, potential talents will surely be asking this question during interviews: How did you treat your employees during the pandemic?
Your answer may make or break their decision to join your company.
Your actions during this pandemic will have a long-term effect on your employment brand. And for the next several years, top talents will most likely go for companies that showed their humanity and genuine care for their employees’ wellbeing during the crisis.
Trend #8. The shift from Designing for Efficiency to Designing for Resilience
Before Covid-19 struck, companies are focused on efficiency — investing heavily on improving workflows, productivity, and supply chains. But the pandemic shattered all these into pieces.
This won’t be the last pandemic, so post-Covid, we are expecting more companies to focus on resilience and building a pandemic-proof workforce. This includes creating a responsive organisation that can quickly shift its course when unexpected events strike. The key here is to have employees who have cross-functional knowledge and training so they can adapt easily to sudden changes.
Trend #9. Increase in Organisation Complexity
In the UK, a staggering 23% of businesses closed their doors because of Covid-19. While in the US, over 100,000 small business (which used to define America’s economy) have closed down. With no vaccine in sight, these numbers will continue to rise.
London saw the biggest absolute rise in numbers of company dissolutions in March, up by 6,431 compared with a year earlier
However, this event is not unprecedented. During the global crisis of 2008, thousands of businesses had also shut its doors. After the crisis, global M&A accelerated as the effort to nationalise companies so they become less likely to fail intensified. Big companies become even bigger as acquisitions and mergers happened in the name of diversification. As a result, companies become even more complex posing a significant challenge to its leadership.
We are expecting to see the same trend post-Covid. And the challenges that baffled business leaders in the past will haunt us again. To help your business overcome this complexity, consider enabling customised performance management in each of your business units. Remember that what works in Department A may not work on Department B. By giving your departments a free hand when it comes to optimising their management practices based on their needs, you are creating a more resilient and responsive organisation.
For companies where people are paramount to success, Sage HR helps businesses overcome the complexities of managing their people, so they can focus on growing their business.