The workplace looks and feels different than it did a year ago. A pandemic will do that, which is knowledge most of us hoped we’d never know.
Where working from home used to be the exception, it’s now the norm, and there isn’t a real end in sight as of yet. An overwhelming majority of office jobs migrated home during the pandemic and a sizable percentage of companies still don’t know if or when their offices will return to the normal they knew before COVID-19.
In a fluid situation, it’s tough to keep your eye on any one thing, but at HR Next Direct we’ve pulled together a few workplace-related trends we think will be top-of-mind in 2021.
The ol’ 9-to-5 has loosened its grip on many companies, thanks to the norm-busting, COVID-19 pandemic. Schedules are a bit more flexible now, carrying over from the big adjustment many staffers made in 2020 as they migrated home and began working from kitchen tables and makeshift offices. Life and work have fully intertwined and employers have found ways to be mindful of the fact that their employees have lives outside of work — in part because they’re seeing it on Zoom calls.
Office snacks and game rooms don’t mean much for the work-from-home crowd. Pre-pandemic, companies were using office perks such as designer soda water, premium treats and recess rooms to attract talent and showcase their culture. Now, employers are being asked to offer stipends for employees to cover the costs of lunch, snacks and drinks, even after the employer covers costs associated with working from home.
Fish from a bigger pond
Remote work benefits employees who are in need of more work-life balance, but it also benefits organizations looking to recruit beyond their immediate geographical boundaries. If a task or role can be handled remotely, it can be handled from pretty much anywhere. That opens the talent pool to a larger field of candidates, which allows organizations to add a little more muscle to their teams in a way they couldn’t, or hadn’t considered, previously.
While Zoom became the most popular conference room in 2020, the idea of virtual connections took hold and now extends beyond a brainstorm held over video conferencing. Companies catering to work-from-home staff have had to find ways to offer virtual support, for equipment, personnel and client issues, and for benefits. Mental health is top of mind for a number of Americans, and those employers that offer virtual support will maintain a healthy workforce through the rest of the pandemic.
Focus on diversity and inclusion
Employees are more mindful than ever of organizational diversity and inclusion practices, and employers need to make sure they’re focused on those efforts — with action and commitment. The last year inspired demonstrations for racial justice and law enforcement reform, and employees are holding the organizations they work for to account for their roles in creating progress on these issues.
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