Cheryl Cran founder of nextmapping.com a future of work consultancy shares the top 21 workplace predictions for 2021. She is the author "NextMapping - Anticipate, Navigate and Create The Future of Work" and has been named #1 future of work expert by GoCatalant. FREE infographics and resources can be found at nextmapping.com
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By Cheryl Cran founder of NextMapping a future of work
consultancy. For more information go to next mapping.com
Top 21 NextMapping Workplace Predictions for 2021
The 2020 Pandemic Disruption
Businesses had to pivot quickly to provide workers the ability to
work from home and work remotely
Workers had to adapt and juggle family and work responsibilities
Many businesses have struggled to stay alive and others thrived
21 Workplace Predictions for 2021
1. Remote work is here to stay
2. Hybrid workplace is the new normal
3. Increase in mergers of brands
4. Workers reverse migrating to rural locations
5. Workers have more power over employer
6. Commercial real estate is being reimagined
7. Covid-19 speeds up digital transformation
8. Worker well being is top priority
9. Increase contract and freelance workers
10. Increase in workers wanting a career change
11. Virtual meetings to be leveraged
12. Finding and keeping good people an ongoing challenge
13. Future ready skills more important
14. Innovation To Increase in 2021
15. Real time performance feedback
16. White space to be a top perk for workers
17. Rise in virtual productivity tools
18. Business accountability for diversity and inclusion
19. Increase in demand for workers to reskill and retrain
20. Leadership accountability to increase
21. Gen C generation will shape future workplace
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
60% of workers surveyed say that they want to continue to work remotely in 2021.
The CTO of Ivanti a security company says that in 2021 people will continue to work remotely anywhere.
Workers cite that the reasons they want to continue to work remotely is no commuting, more time with
family and ability to get more work done than in the office environment.
Employers who said that workers could not work remotely pre-Covid were able to see that remote work
Employer benefits of having remote workers include, happier workers, smaller office spaces and access to
global remote talent.
Hybrid Workplace is New Normal
While remote work is here to stay research
shows that 72% of workers want to have the
option to work in office or work from home.
Companies will provide structures that allow
workers to choose when they work in the office
and when they work remotely.
Stanford university professor Bloom says the
optimal amount of time to work in office is two
days a week.
Increase in Mergers of Brands
Covid has put major pressure on brands in 2020 and this means an increase in mergers and aquisitions.
In North America it is predicted that mergers will increase by about 5% year over year in 2021 specifically in
the finance, insurance, healthcare and manufacturing industries.
Traditional industries that have lagged in digital transformation will seek to merge with brands that have the
technology solutions and access to products and markets unavailable to a single brand.
Workers Reverse Migrating to Rural
Real estate transactions in certain markets has had busiest sales ever in 2020. With more people working
from home there is a trend towards finding larger homes with offices. New Yorkers fled to the suburbs in
height of pandemic. In July there was a 44% increase in sales of homes in neighbouring counties in New
York. In Canada cities like Vancouver and Toronto had record sales and people migrating to the suburbs.
This trend is going impact how companies recruit and retain talent as workers will be seeking remote work
opportunities. Rural communities will benefit from increase in taxpayers and infrastructures for expanding
Workers Have More Power Over Employer
Pre-Covid many employers had the power over workers as to how they work and when they work. In 2021
the rise of worker power over employer will continue. This means its a workers market where the worker
holds the power of deciding who they will work for, how they want to work and when they want to work.
There will be a continued shortage of talented workers and this means employers will have to provide
workers with flexible work options and be willing to negotiate what the worker wants.
Commercial Real Estate Is Being Reimagined
With the rise in remote work as a foreseeable ongoing trend many businesses are looking at ways to
maximize real estate space. More and more companies are rethinking how and when they use office
spaces. Offices will be reserved for face to face gatherings, team based activities and collaborations. Many
large companies are looking to make space available for other purposes such as event rentals or operating
like a WeWork set up.
Covid-19 Speeds Up Digital Transformation
The CEO of Microsoft says “we’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months” since the
beginning of the pandemic. Two separate studies by McKinsey and KPMG that 80% of leaders have
accelerated the implementation of new technologies as a result of the pandemic. Companies are leveraging
AI , collaboration tools and self serve technologies to improve both employee and customer experience.
Worker Well Being Top Priority
Worker burnout is a significant risk in 2021 due to pandemic fatigue. 88% of workers surveyed have
stated an increase in anxiety and stress since March of 2020.
Company leaders who focus on increasing worker safety and well being will be the winners when it
comes to employee happiness.
Increase in Freelance and Contract Workers
Along with the rise of remote work will be the continued rise of freelance and contract workers. Workers are
seeking more flexibility and freelance or contract work allows for a worker to create his or her own schedule.
More employers are structuring work around ‘how’ it needs to be done and see freelance and contract
workers as a way to hire workers for project specific work. This trend will continue over the next decade.
Increase in Workers Wanting a Career Change
A Ceridian survey has found that 64% of workers are seeking a career change in 2021. The pandemic
revealed that many workers want to work remotely and will change careers to one that offers remote work.
Workers are no longer looking for a traditional career path - rather workers are seeking a multitude of
experiences that helps to increase multi industry experience. The pandemic caused many workers to spend
time on deciding what they want to do and how they can create a new future.
Virtual Meetings To Be Leveraged
According to a PCMA survey 70% of event
planners are going virtual in 2021.
Meeting planners are reimagining the future
of meetings. In person meetings will come
back however live streaming and virtual
events will change the way meetings have
been conducted. Within organizations virtual
meetings are being leveraged as
organizations have found that there are cost
savings related to travel and time.
In the past hiring a new worker meant in
person interviews now virtual interviews are
the going the new normal. In 2020 many
workers got virtual meeting fatigue which
means that there will be new ways to
conduct virtual meetings in 2021 that focus
on worker well being and productive use of
Finding & Keeping Good People An Ongoing Challenge
Yes 2020 saw companies having to lay off and restructure and research shows that industries such
as technology, health, food and agriculture are growing. There will continue to be a shortage of
skilled workers into 2021 and beyond. In the construction industry growth is project to be 80% until
2030. Many construction firms are resorting to outsourcing and sharing trades with other firms.
Company leaders that focus on retaining top talent will be able to stay competitive in 2021 and
Future Ready Skills More Important
The skills needed for leaders and workers in 2021 are
the skills that make companies future ready. The future
ready skills include:
Ability to leverage technology/digital transformation
Collaborate with stakeholders
Empathy, patience, humility
Move from ‘us’ vs ‘them’
Multiple perspectives ability (to see beyond situation)
Innovation to Increase in 2021
Healthcare innovated at an unprecedented speed to bring vaccines to market within a year. This would
have been unheard of in the past. Many companies innovated in 2020 and we will see an exponential rise
in innovation in 2021.
Real Time Performance Feedback
Goldman Sachs recently has shifted from annual reviews to real time performance measurement.
Real time performance includes monthly one on ones with workers either face to face or virtual face
to face. JP Morgan introduced a feedback app that allows employees to request feedback from
anyone, anytime and anywhere. In the past annual reviews were the gold standard and in 2021 we
will see that workers respond to ongoing coaching, mentorship and support with daily, weekly and
monthly feedback sessions.