5 Future Of Work Trends for 2021

Dave Erickson, Thursday, October 21, 2021

There is so much change happening in the workplace because of COVID-19. Even the definition of “Workplace” is now having a completely new meaning. Driving to the office, or taking the Metro to your company office building seems like 100 years ago. Will it ever go back to the way it was? Probably not, but that’s OK for many people since once they got a taste of working from home, they don’t really want to go back to the “office”. This begs the question, what is the future of work?

Human Resource managers are having to rethink everything about HR processes and how to retain and attract workers. According to the latest Gartner survey of HR Leaders, there are several work trends developing in 2021 that will have far ranging effects on business and workers for many years to come.

“32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. It’s critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are changing how people work and how business gets done,” says Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President, Gartner.

1 – Organization Redesign for Resilience

In the past, most organization redesigns focused on workflows to increase efficiency, streamlining roles and increasing communication flow in order to create the most efficient organization. While the benefits to greater efficiency are important, the downside is that the organization and processes don’t have that much flexibility to respond to business challenges… such as a global pandemic.

That is why companies are shifting their reorganization designs to put an emphasis on building a more responsive and flexible organization. These new flexible company structures increase agility and flexibility by focusing on designing processes that can flex as new situations occur. These flexible processes provide employees and workers with flexible, varied and adaptive roles and workflows, so they gain cross-functional knowledge and training. 

For employees and workers, this means that companies will be changing processes and workflows to better deal with change, but workers will need to take advantage of these opportunities to learn additional skill sets, be flexible and get cross-functional experience.

2 – Outsourcing and Contingent Worker Expansion

For a company like ScreamingBox, 2021 has been a good year because the global business environment has changed and put an emphasis and focus toward on-line business and work models. As a result, this has created an increase in development services and team extension opportunities for digital product development providers. 

Add to this that organizations will continue to expand their use of contingent workers to maintain more flexibility in workforce management and to take advantage of the cost saving that Outsourcing and Contingent Workers can provide in the right situations. Many organizations are starting to utilize hybrid models of employees, outsourcing and contingent works for filling our their workforce organization charts, and are even talent sharing and offering 80% pay for 80% work models.

Even though outsourcing and gig workers offer greater flexibility, HR managers will need to develop their own performance evaluations for these hybrid workforce structures, figure out compensation increase plans and work with their outsourcing partners for personality evaluations and satisfaction reviews.

Future Of Work Trends

3 – Remote Working Takes Over the World

A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will probably work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the global pandemic. Even though there are challenges managing remote staff and being a remote worker, this trend will most likely stay at this level or maybe even expand slightly for office based workers. 

For businesses who are remote work based (such as ScreamingBox), there are no big changes needed by the organization or the workers. Companies who were office based, are still trying to make remote work as efficient as office based work; and they are still trying to deal with the productivity levels as an entire workforce and the work tempo and timing challenges that remote and hybrid work models create.

The good news is that since there are many companies now dealing with the challenges of remote workforces, more and better tools are being made available that help companies and workers deal with the challenges of working remotely. For organizations that are looking to keep a large remote workforce, they will need to have a consistent effort looking and evaluating new work tools and will have to remain flexible in their workflows and how they treat their remote workers.

4 – How Much is Too Much Data Collection

With the expanding role of remote work, contingent workers and outsourcing in the modern workforce, comes the need of organizations to monitor and collect a lot of data on employees, workers, contractors and all their workflows. And although this is now a new situation, because of the global pandemic, it has taken on a larger and higher priority role within companies.

Tracking working hours is not new for outsourcing companies, but it is new to office workers now working from home and for companies trying to figure out remote workforce productivity. Organizations now have a wide range of tools to track and collect data on how their employees and workforce are performing, how they use their time, what are the communication flows, what is their engagement and how much time are they using a computer or doing health-related activities.

For some employees or workers, this feeling that the company is monitoring and collecting all this data and using it to judge their productivity can be a motivator; or it can be a de-motivator that forces workers to look for a better and new workplace. People don’t like that they are being monitored all the time, so organizations will need to balance the amount and way of data collection and what is in those data pools, versus the feeling of their employees and workers having negative feelings about being monitored all the time.

The other issue about all this data collection is that new regulations are being enacted globally about how organizations collect and store citizens’ data. A good example of this is the GDPR laws of Europe, that have very strict regulations concerning the collecting and storing of employee and worker data. Companies will have to take this into consideration since collecting unnecessary and too much data can open them up to legal issues related to these data collection laws.

How much data in enough?

5- Internal Project Management

As workforces become more format diverse with remote workers, contingent workers and outsourced workers; organizing internal workflows has become more complex and difficult since it is hard to get everyone in a “conference room” once a day to sync up and coordinate. One of the biggest challenges that organizations face with a format diverse workforce is the decreased communication productivity that comes with time-zone and communication channel differences.

In some ways, format diverse workforces sometimes bring to mind the phrase “Like herding cats…”. One way organizations are dealing with this is to use project management resources and tools to drive internal processes, even processes that are continuous. An example of this is to set-up Trello boards to manage something like Weekly Marketing Tasks or Order Processing Issues, in which various members of the workforce can go to one place to see how things are moving along and what they need to focus on. For a diverse workforce, internal project management is becoming an increasingly important productivity initiative in both enterprise and small businesses.

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