The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a massive paradigm shift in the world of work. In 2021, a year later, we’re still dealing with the ramifications. The world of work went through a dramatic transformation that would have normally taken years. In a matter of weeks, organizations rolled out extensive new health and safety plans, converted a sizable portion of their workforce to remote work, turned their focus to enhancing e-commerce sales, and completely overhauled their business strategies. As we look toward the future, there’s no escaping the impact of the pandemic and other seismic events that occurred in 2020 such as the Black Lives Matter protests and the American election.
remote work backlash
The honeymoon phase many newly remote workers had with their new work setup is over. The initial rush of being able to work from the comfort of home is wearing off for many workers as they adjust to the new realities of endless video calls, minimal in-person contact, wranging noisy kids in the background, and the lack of a distinct boundary between their work and home lives. Many employees are eagerly awaiting the day they’re able to return to the office and reclaim face-to-face interactions.
Despite these challenges, remote work is certainly here to stay even when the pandemic subsides. Employees won’t be eager to give up the freedom and flexibility they’ve gained through remote work. Organizations are similarly recognizing a bevy of advantages such as offloading costly office real estate and greater access to talent when geographic limits are removed. Employee expectations have also shifted now that remote work has been normalized.
Finding the right balance of remote work flexibility and satisfactory face-to-face human connections will be critical as businesses move into the post-pandemic phase. That likely means a hybrid model with options to work from home or from a more traditional office. Check out the full report for additional insights on what employees said their ideal workplace would be and how you can take steps to adapt your workplace.
renewed conversations about diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion have long been a topic circulating in HR departments. However, in 2020, conversations about diversity and inclusion burst into the mainstream in a big way following the George Floyd protests led by Black Lives Matter activists. Terms such as ‘systemic racism’ and ‘anti-black racism’ have become a part of the global lexicon. With a renewed spotlight on the urgent importance of diversity and inclusion in 2021, the real question is: what can you do to take action?
Organizations will have a critical role to play in fighting against inequality. Systemic bias in hiring and promoting racialized people continues to be rampant. The same is true for other minority groups such as women and people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Check out the report for some stark stats and to learn how your organization can move away from talking about diversity and inclusion toward taking decisive action that truly moves the needle.
building a post-COVID-19 workforce
The pandemic led to an unprecedented shift in the Canadian workforce. The unemployment numbers in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic dwarfed those of 2008’s Great Recession, which crippled the economy for years. Though job recovery was strong in the later parts of 2020, the second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown set back some of that progress. As we stare down 2021, turning an eye toward job creation and redeployment of talent will be critical.
Technology will be another driving factor in how organizations manage talent in the post-pandemic world. Technological advancements are moving at a more rapid pace than any time since the industrial revolution. As certain skills become obsolete and new ones emerge, employers will need to redirect some of their efforts to upskilling and reskilling staff to adequately access the skill sets they need.