5 predictions for the future of work in 2021

Photo: Knight Center for Journalism via Flickr

Most corporate executives and mid-level managers are quickly realizing how their companies are permanently evolving due to Covid-19. This pandemic has forced our world to rely more heavily on electronics, and the future of business is forever changed. 

The reality of work in 2021 will be much different than it was in 2019. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, according to Zenbusiness, at least 70% of the small businesses in the United States have one employee working from home.

This is a dramatic increase from previous business models who now understand the value of remote employees.

Because our world is rapidly evolving, we must understand the future implications of what business structures will look like in 2021. By looking forward, we will be better prepared to meet the needs of our employers and consumers.

Here are 5 predictions for the future of work in 2021:

Several business leaders have expressed their predictions of what we can expect in the coming year. Here are the top predictions.

1. Increased attention to employee wellness

According to Ruth Pearce, the president at ALLE LLC, “Organizations will be focusing on how to build connection and alleviate mental stress as more people work remotely for longer periods. Creating psychologically safe workplaces will be both more critical and more challenging as workplaces adapt. Change is hard, and only those organizations that focus specific attention on employee wellness will flourish.”

Working from home and isolation can have specific adverse effects on the mental health of employees. If employees are not healthy, their productivity will decrease. Several experts agree mental health and employee wellness will be a new focus of employers.

2. Flexible schedules are here to stay 

Rachel Greszler, a Heritage Foundation labor expert states, “Today’s forced telework experience provides an opportunity for workers to prove if they can maintain their productivity and responsiveness from home, and an opportunity for employers to learn what type of work can be done remotely, and what is still difficult or impossible.”

Allowing employees to work from home is both a benefit to the employee and the organization. The employer does not need to provide an offsite workplace for the employee, and the employee is given the flexibility to manage the home and workplace from a central location. 

3. Business travel will be significantly reduced

Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics, states, “a typical employer can save about $11,000 a year for every person who works remotely half of the time.” Virtual conferences and meetings have taken over traditional in-person conferences and business seminars. 

While there has been a distinct learning curve from the increased use of teleworking technology, many business leaders question the need for expensive business trips that include hotel stays and per diem.

4. Adaptability is the new top skill

Ira Wolfe, the president of Success Performance Solutions, predicts, “Whether we’re working from home, in an office, or some hybrid environment, it’s a given: the journey to the Next Normal will be profoundly different than the normal we abruptly left behind. Everyone will need to become adept at adapting.”

The ability to adapt and move forward with change has been a sought-after skill, but in 2021, it will be especially valuable.

Adopting and overcoming challenges daily will quickly propel employees up organizational changes to help improve business models and processes.

5. Increased demand for contract and temporary employees

According to an article in USA Today, more businesses are hiring temporary workers to fill needs. The days of hiring full-time employees that demand a benefits package for every task may soon be coming to an end. 

Expect to see more contract and temporary job listings in 2021 with a reduction in full-time employment openings.

This will negatively impact those looking for permanent employment, but it may offer higher wages at the expense of reducing benefits for temporary workers.