With the start of a new year, I've been thinking about what the workplace will look like in 2021 and beyond. With some companies, the transition to remote work was easy. For others, the transition is much more difficult. The workplace changed, but what will it be like in the future?
For tech companies, many were stuck in the old way of doing things, Monday through Friday, 9-to-5, head into the office even when you have a cold. The thought of remote work was something that happened on an occasional basis, if that. The concept of working face-to-face to support personal interaction was ingrained from the age of our parents. As technology has changed, our workplaces haven’t. Due to COVID-19, this has forced many companies to catch up with technology.
Here’s what I imagine will be the future of the workplace:
1. A Broader Talent Pool and Core Business Hours
The current shift toward remote work will remain, but with a few changes. Remote work will broaden the talent pool outside the local region. Companies will be able to hire talent from around the country or world. It will also lead to a set of “core business hours,” instead of the usual 9-to-5 work day. Flexible hours will allow employees to work outside of the typical Monday to Friday work week, resulting in a better work-life balance.
2. Less Office Space and More Technology Tools
For many companies, there will be a change in physical office space. The number of employees at an office will be reduced, and consequently, the space needed to accommodate those people will also be reduced. Even as people begin to go back to the office, the total amount of people in it at a given time will dwindle.
With the change in physical location space, budgets will be amended. More budget will go towards building infrastructure and supporting remote work. There will be an increase in tools and hardware to support remote work (like Atlassian tools, for example). And we've all seen that there’s already been a sharp increase in use of video conferencing tools like Zoom.
3. Greater Trust between Employer and Employee
Finally, employer/employee relations will improve, in that employers will have a greater trust in employees. Companies and employers will now expect employees to stay home when they're sick. While many companies previously discouraged this, there was always an underlying mentality that employees needed to go to the office even when ill. Now the expectation will be that employees stay home if they're not feeling well, in order to protect their co-workers. The benefit of the shift to more remote work is that employees will be able to work when they're contagious, but feeling well enough to actually work.
Overall, the changes will be positive for us all!