People and businesses were all but forced into lockdowns and flexible working, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And the upheavals resulted in huge business and job losses.
Sadly, as we enter this new-year, many people are still suffering from job losses, others are working from home, and all of us are wandering: how will the workplace look like in 2021?
Here are some of the work scenarios to look out for.
Disruptions in the jobs market
The dual impact of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic recession will create a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers in 2021.
The reason is because, in addition to the disruption caused by the lockdowns, the adoption of digital tools by companies will transform tasks, jobs and skills in the years ahead – causing the destruction of some existing jobs and the creation of new roles.
While some people are likely to stay in their roles, many others will be at a risk of losing their roles at work.
Unabated pace of online learning and training
The pace of technology adoption will remain unabated in 2021, and will actually accelerate in the online learning areas. But the rise will be different for those in employment versus those who are unemployed.
Those in employment will place emphasis on personal development courses, while those who are unemployed will place greater emphasis on learning digital skills and new business setups.
Digitizing your work processes
So, the future of work has already arrived for many people and businesses. This means digitizing work processes and significantly expanding remote work.
Twitter is one company that is already looking ahead: it’s allowing some employees to choose to work from home permanently. Google and facebook are taking the same path.
Now, this may appear to favour tech companies, but it is by no means limited to them. Here in Nigeria, many companies, including the banks, advertising companies, TV and radio stations among others, are allowing some employees to work from home, for up to 3 days in a week.
Setting up home offices
After navigating the challenges of working from home in the past 10 months, many employers and employees are truly getting into the groove. So now, more people will be on zoom, webex, Skype or video conferencing. Thus, more people will be setting up home offices in 2021.
And for many of us, the kitchen will become our corporate desks, and the lounge will become our corporate rooms! All these, while battling children and spouses that are similarly stock at home.
While many will be happy with this new way of working, fatigue may set in for others. But this is the time for organizations and companies to consider more seriously a permanent shift to a flexible working culture.
Finally, the future of work – post the pandemic or post the vaccine – we are not going to back to what was… we are going to leapfrog to the new normal. And then, the new normal will take advantage of all the things we have learned in the past 10 months.
But then, there will be winners and there will be losers, as we have already seen, and would continue to see in year 2021. And that’s why, professionals and businesses have to adapt quickly to the emerging flexible working culture.