Work Trends 2020 and Beyond - The Changing Face of our Workplace

2020 has already been a mind-bending year for business as we continue to overcome some mighty challenges of everyday business. Trends in how we change, communicate, hire, use AI, and feel about work are being amplified, and we’re being forced to adapt faster than even in the face of COVID-19.

We’re spending more years in the workforce 

We’ve already experienced the Boomer, GenX, GenY generations, and now it's the Millennial mashup. This is significantly changing the workplace mix, how teams function, and the vertical silos of workplace management. This year was the real a changing of the guard – from 72 million baby boomers to this year 73 million millennials - and the Millennials are ready to change the world from the ground up.

Work from home or remote working

The current state of affairs has forced most businesses to jump (somewhat anxiously) into most employees working from home or remotely. For businesses that are ahead of the curve, they have seen this trend on the horizon or decided that cost-wise this is a much more cost-effective way of running a business. Digital nomads have known this for years. As alluring as it all seems there are some pitfalls to be wary of including technical issues (Australia has some of the worst broadband speeds in the world), distractions (especially when we have others working from home as well), loneliness, inconsistent work, and efficiency/productivity issues. 

The perks can include more flexibility, lower costs of maintaining a business location and office space, less commute time, and even improved retention rates because of job satisfaction.

Flexibility in the workplace

Whether flexibility means compressing work days, flexible daily hours, telecommuting, challenges exist for both employer and the employee. It can be more difficult to team build, part-time employment leading to messy handovers, time zones, productivity tracking, and requires a lot of trust between employer and employee. Benefits are positive moral from flexibility, better retention, and better quality opportunities for hiring.

Centralised Communications

With lockdown and decentralisation of the workforce, we are relying more heavily on real-time communication and work apps such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, WhatsApp, Skype, Hangouts. Productivity is no longer an issue for employers when you have instantaneous communication. Many of these apps also allow for centralised information depots to share documents with the likes of Google Business APPs and Microsoft Sharepoint. In truth, unless you are required to access sensitive and secure information there is no reason your team can’t collaborate online.

“In December 2019, Zoom had 10 million daily meeting participants. Just 4 months later, in April 2020, more than 300 million daily meeting participants were using Zoom.”

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Worker Wellbeing 

The challenges we face to business today means more stress, instability, rapid change, and insecurity.  Worker wellbeing is the foundation of building stable business and teams.

Leading the worker wellbeing parade is PWC. They have built their Be Well, Work Well wellbeing program pillars on the four dimensions of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The end result is healthier, more engaged employees.

Upskilling

It’s been well recognised that upskilling the existing workforce is going to create secure and sustainable labour in the future.

Employees entering the workforce today will be obsolete with decades to go before they retire.

“77% of people said they would learn new skills now or completely retrain to improve their future employability.”

With COVID-19 putting many peoples livelihood into questions, this will prompt many to pivot, upskill and look at their transferable skills.

Soft skills are the power skills

A lot has been said about how non-technical soft skills are the new black in business and education. The death of the single skill employee had changed the workforce of today that has had to rapidly adapt to exception changes to the business.  Soft skills help with the problem solving and management of how you work.

Today, soft and transferable skills are just as important as technical, in order to be successful in teams and workplace 2020. It is an absolute requirement for most companies hiring standards. They include:

Adaptability - Shooting to the top of this list this year with the current business climate. The one and only constant is change and the more resilient your employees can thrive in changing environments, pivot, and even excel in adversity. 

Creativity - Flexible and creative problem-solving.

Collaboration - Teams can accomplish more than individuals.

Persuasion - Creative leader and employees who can explain, communicate and persuade colleagues and stakeholders with the ‘why’.

Time management - Organisation, prioritise, goal setting and planning, delegation and communication.

Emotional intelligence - The ability to understand and manage your emotions and those around you and include empathy, awareness, self-control, positive outlook, and adaptability.

Cities are vying for talent - not business

More and more cities are becoming hotspots for talent, accessing key geographical locations. Major industries are moving closer to intellectual institutions to capitalise on innovation hubs and talent clusters (Amazon, General Electric) by moving headquarters, creating outposts and innovation labs, participating in immersions and retreats. 

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The Gig Economy 

The transient nature of freelancers, consultants, independent contractors, and temps combined with a low barrier to entry, and sheer variety of opportunity means the gig economy has grown exponentially. 

44% of gig workers say it’s their primary source of income.” (Edison).

The reason being is that allows for the flexibility of self-employment, and work flexibly around their own needs. This has resulted in high work satisfaction, higher work hours and lower wages. (BCG Henderson)

Either way - it’s changed the face of contemporary business and created unique flexible opportunities for earning income around the globe.

The rise of AI 

The proliferation of AI and big data is a huge driver for business decisions, and the changes are far-reaching in the office Work looks nothing it even 6 months ago.

As AI technology assists us with mundane tasks, employers now value softer adaptive skills allowing for greater flexibility and multi-skilled employees.

Many organisations are now using AI assistants and chatbots to handle the early stages of customer interactions, hiring and sales. Time savings means efforts can be put into the creative talents of employees to problem-solve instead of empty tasks.

 

These long-term trends have significant implications for business globally. Even as we isolate and sequester and decentralise, we are working better and happier than ever. It means savings for employers and employees, a better hiring pool, and more flexible and adaptable workforce to take on the challenges we face moving forward. Find out how you can take the next step in the digital transformation of your team, we'd love to help.

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