COVID-19 has changed the fundamental structure of the employee-employer relationship, speeding already-existing trends and putting into question many things we took for granted prior to the epidemic, such as being compelled to work on-site. Many people are rethinking what they want from their jobs and how they want to work. And millions of people are abandoning their jobs. Employers are not only attempting to figure out how to address the specific needs of a diverse workforce, but they are also rethinking many of the fundamentals of how work is done today.
How firms combine business sustainability with employee demands is critical as we establish a new post-pandemic normal. We look at how work is changing and how firms are focusing more on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges. Not all of these trends will have the same influence on businesses, but it is crucial for employers to be aware of them as they begin to plan for a sustainable work paradigm in the aftermath of COVID-19.
1. Workplace hybridization
Most employees wish to return to the office in some capacity. During the epidemic, when most individuals worked remotely, there appeared to be an increase in productivity. According to our 2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, individuals are increasingly feeling detached from their colleagues and workplace, and they desire to return to work, often two or three days per week. For example, according to our employee study, nearly four out of ten employees (38 percent) would prefer a hybrid on-site/work-from-home experience.
To meet employee needs, firms may explore developing hybrid working methods. The ideal strategy to prepare is to first understand the demands of various employee segments as well as the sort of job being done. Employers will be able to reimagine how and where work is done with a proactive hybrid work approach while maintaining a focus on the employee experience. This will increase staff engagement and productivity.
2. A new focus for the workplace space
Prior to the epidemic, the office was frequently used as a quiet room to accomplish individual work, and secondarily as a place to cooperate and connect with coworkers. What’s apparent is that the office or workplace will develop and become more focused on cooperation, rather than the traditional quiet setting of solitary work. According to our Flexible Work and Rewards Survey 2021, more than a third of companies anticipate real estate budget cuts (36 percent ). Almost every company intends to keep at least some office space for collaboration.
Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly obvious that remote work is beneficial whether people are performing standard transactional work or even incremental innovation. However, executing creative or transformative work remotely is challenging since it necessitates constant communication. As a result, companies will require in-office cooperation to foster revolutionary innovation through constructive conflict.
3. Digitalization is accelerating.
The rising use of collaboration tools like Teams and Zoom indicates how quickly digitalization is advancing. Investments in fields like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), data and analytics, blockchain, and cryptocurrency, on the other hand, are on the rise.
We’re leaving a considerably larger digital “footprint” now that many of us work remotely. The data generated can assist us in making better decisions. Companies who embrace AI-based solutions to improve employee experiences and provide more tailored experiences will see improved outcomes.
Automation and network analysis are being used by organizations. The benefit of using Teams, Zoom, or other collaborative technologies is that HR can utilize the data created by these platforms to analyze how much time and with whom people collaborate, providing a greater knowledge of networks within a company and how collaboration is supported.
We also anticipate that digitization will result in the emergence of new business models inside current organizations, more blockchain usage, and the spread of new payment systems, including cryptocurrencies.
4. sensitivity to DEI
The epidemic has had varying effects and resulted in varied experiences among various employee categories, including women, caregivers, people of color, working parents, lower-income groups, and so on. Profound questions about DEI have risen to the fore. As firms begin to plan for new ways of working, they may unintentionally create imbalances across numerous dimensions, including salary, benefits, and career opportunities.
Organizations should assess the impact of their policies on groups who may be subjected to inequitable treatment or influenced by unconscious prejudice in the workplace. They will also need to prepare managers to be aware of these concerns, to lead in an inclusive manner, and to be conscious enough to adjust flexible working arrangements that result in accidental prejudice. Employers should assess their incentive offerings and understand the preferences and consequences of current benefit policies on different worker generations in order to discover opportunities for improvement.
5. The ESG requirement
ESG is rapidly becoming a topic of discussion in boardrooms, with climate change as a prominent theme. Companies are becoming more aware of their carbon footprints as a result of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which issued severe warnings about the effects of global warming. Many people have said that they intend to push toward net-zero carbon emissions.
Companies must intentionally make decisions and develop a strategy to reduce their carbon footprints and achieve their net-zero aspirations as they transition to a hybrid work environment, in our opinion. This might have significant implications for business structures and value chains.
Climate change is also becoming a major theme in employee value propositions. Employees are increasingly inquiring, “What are you doing about climate change?” Do you have a policy in place? The responses of an employer may have an influence on whether or not a potential employee joins the company, which is especially essential in light of tight labor markets and a high rate of employee turnover. Similarly, the responses to those questions can aid in the retention of personnel.
Organizations will also be scrutinized more closely in terms of corporate governance and social practices. They’ll have to be proactive about ESG and publish on ESG measures that reflect their plans more frequently. Successful organizations will integrate ESG into their business strategy in the long run.