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7 trends that will shape the workplace this year

At the start of 2020 remote work was a slowly rising long-term trend. For example, only 12% of workers in the US worked remotely full time, 6% in the UK. Needless to say, the world was unprepared for mass remote work. But COVID-19 instantly proved the opposite. Last year was full of challenges for many organizations and businesses. It was hard and complicated to navigate a rapidly changing environment. New priorities included responding shifting to a full-time remote team, planning how best to encourage employees’ wellbeing, and managing a hybrid workforce. People want to believe that in 2021 things will go back to normal. though, this year is likely to be another full of major changes. As Harvard Business Review writes, except for remote work, there will be seven new force that will shape business in 2021: 1. Employers will shift from managing the employee experience to managing the life experience of their employees. After the pandemic employers have learned that supporting their employee’s personal lives, will positively affect their workforce and productivity. According to Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, employers that support employees with their life experience see a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health and a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health. 2. More companies will adopt stances on current societal and political debates. Employees expect more. They want to work for companies whose values fit with their own priorities. Seventy-four percent of employees expect their employer to become more actively involved in the cultural debates of the day. And CEOs will respond. More CEOs will move beyond making statements about the issues impacting society and will evolve to making significant budget investments in supporting these issues. 3. The gender-wage gap will continue to increase as employees return to the office. Men are more likely than women to return to work at the workplace. And those who return to the workplace are more likely to get higher raises and promotions than those who continue to work from home. Because, according to a recent Gartner survey, 64% of managers believe that office workers are higher performers than remote workers, and in turn are likely to give in-office workers a higher raise than those who work from home. The combination of these two factors will worsen the gender-wage gap in 2021. 4. New regulations will limit employee monitoring. During the pandemic, more than 1 out of 4 companies have bought new technology to passively track and monitor their employees. However, same companies haven’t focused on how to balance employee privacy with technology. In addition, more employees are voicing frustration and disappointment over being monitored. In response, in 2021, new regulations will emerge that start to put limits on what employers can track about their employees. 5. Flexibility will shift from location to time. While letting employees work remote has become new normal, the next level of flexibility will be around giving employees flexibility over “when” they work. In 2021 we will see a rise of new jobs where employees no longer have an agreed-upon set of hours to work and instead just focus on a set of outputs to achieve, regardless of how long it takes them to achieve those outputs. 6. Leading companies will make bulk purchases of the Covid vaccine for employees — and will be sued over Covid vaccine requirements. This degree of help to workers will be a priority in the talent market to attract and keep talent. 7. Mental health support is the new normal The pandemic has shown the importance of mental health, for both employers and employees. Consequently, companies will expand mental health benefits, creating “collective mental health days” and supporting other activities to improve the mental health of their team.