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Employee Experience and work place change predictions for 2021

What a year 2020 has been. While doing research for this article, I came across various predictions for 2020, which was written in January this year. Pre-COVID-19. We were optimistic and excited about employee wellbeing, ethical leadership and even “exploring virtual reality for corporate training.” If only we knew that three months later, we had to adapt everything that we knew and was used to; to implement and conduct virtual training, to make appointments at executive level without ever physical seeing or shaking hands with the candidates. How much we’ve learned.

As we are heading into 2021, with significant changes on our doorstep, let’s look at some Employee Experience predictions and Workplace changes to better align ourselves for what lies ahead.

Flexible working becomes mainstream

The migration to home working brought about a lot of concern for the future of offices. We however learned that although working from home does have significant benefits, the need for physical engagement is evident to ensure a positive working culture and a sense of team work and synergy. Our prediction for 2021 corresponds with a report from Forrester which calls it the “anywhere-plus-office hybrid model” in which flexible working hours will be the norm but with structured contact time at the office.

Reimbursement for working at home / Review of relevant HR policies

As working from home becomes an established part of the working life, companies will soon start to formally alter their working policies. International trends already include Denmark who is adding cost of refreshments like coffee on their employees’ wage packages. France has passed a law shielding them from after-hours email; The Dutch government encourages contribution to employees’ wage to cover Wi-Fi, utility bills and even toilet paper used by those workers staying at home.  Even if we are not as extreme, South African companies will have to review relevant human resource policies to cater for their working from home workforce and employees will need to understand how it affects them.

Culture becomes reactive

As the digital workplace will evolve further, culture may become secondary. While culture was more ambient in the office, there may be a need for culture champions in a remote work setting. These employees will be responsible to set up initiatives, instigate new campaigns and trigger social conversations. Organisations should focus on how they are building their culture in a dispersed workplace in 2021.

Mental Heath

It seems as if employers are finally starting to understand that mental wellbeing is critical to improve work engagement and productivity. It will be managers’ duty to keep track of and identify behavioural patterns, responses etc. from their workers to assess emotional and mental wellbeing.

Other workplace changes predicted for 2021 includes the turn to improved IT infrastructure and automation which we will elaborate on in our next newsletter.

Even though 2020 has uniquely tested our ability to adapt and work together, it has also taught us valuable lessons. Our resilience has been tested and we successfully navigated to the end of 2020. Our plan for 2021 is to build on the lessons learned and take into account the predictions highlighted in this article.



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