If you had asked us about the new world of work at the beginning of last year, we would have talked about how the introduction of lots of new technology was impacting on working practices. Fast forward 12 months, when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt, working practices have changed beyond recognition.

With nationally enforced lockdowns meaning companies had no choice but to allow their employees to work from home or else risk losing their business, a lot of business leaders had to grapple with the issue of how to do this successfully almost overnight. Every aspect of employees’ working lives are now being viewed through a digital lens and because of this, we are all reliant on technology to help us succeed.

As we start to settle into this new way of doing business, it is clear that workplaces, and working practices in general, will look very different in 2021 than they did at the beginning of last year. So, what are some of the trends we have seen develop and how can we learn from them as employers and employees?

Personal wellbeing is key

One of the most important things to come out of this year is the knowledge that employee wellbeing is key. In order for businesses to be able to adapt to crises quickly and keep ticking over, there needs to be a three-pronged approach to personal wellbeing:

  • Physical – clear working from home policies, help to get employees set up to work from home, and a focus on keeping them safe and healthy
  • Mental – working with them to help anyone who is feeling anxious and depressed due to the enforced isolation
  • Financial – support for society in general as we are facing a rapid rise in the number of unemployed, and also people having to take pay cuts

As and when some businesses start to transition back to office work, the most important thing to focus on will be physical wellbeing, not least in an effort to keep the number of coronavirus cases from spiking yet again. A lot of companies have already found that employees had insisted on keeping the flexibility of work location and travel that they had benefitted from earlier last year, not least as protection against the virus but also to improve their wellbeing in the long term. In fact, as many employees have now proven it is possible to do their job remotely, it will become more and more difficult for employers to force them to go back to the way they worked before the coronavirus outbreak.

Technology being used to help leadership

Many business leaders will hold their hands up and say they were simply not prepared for what it took to lead their employees through a crisis such as that we have experienced. In many cases, they have risen to the challenge, but in other cases, gaps in knowledge and skills have been revealed. One thing it has shown is that those leaders who have drawn on technology resources have been able to gain the data and insights they need to allow them to make better decisions and offer more targeted interventions.

A more agile way of working

We have seen lots of businesses pivoting and adapting to change quickly throughout this pandemic, from teams helping each other through work imbalances to companies accelerating their technology adoption roadmaps by months. This crisis has forced many teams to work in a more agile way, far earlier than they were perhaps expecting to.

One reason for this may be the fact that with everyone working remotely, everyone in the team is now on a more equal footing, and there is less of a “headquarters” mentality – with a more diverse and global team being able to be put in place as a physical location is no longer a barrier.

Sharing talent is also a way of working that seems to be on the rise, with leaders becoming more flexible in their staffing models, allowing movement of employees – not only within teams within their own organisation but also outside of the organisation, in the pursuit of the greater good.

2020 has fundamentally changed the way we work, so it’s time for us all to embrace these changes and get used to working in more engaging and productive workplaces in the future.

If you want to kick start your career search, or you are looking for more talent to add to your existing team, then please get in touch with the specialist recruiters at Agile Recruit, data recruitment agency.

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