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The unforeseeable events of 2020 have led to a dramatic shift in the way we work. The workplace status quo has been significantly disrupted — from what our work schedules look like, to what we expect from our employers, to how we navigate the workplace.
Most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a number of novel challenges as businesses struggled to adapt to remote operations and navigate evolving employee needs and customer demand. Other important topics, such as social inequality, have led businesses to rethink the types of support they offer to employees in specific cultural or social groups.
As we navigate 2021, many companies have begun seeing emerging workplace trends coming off the back of 2020. Read ahead to learn about the top workplace trends from 2020 that will have staying power in 2021 and beyond.
Emphasis on Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted Americans’ physical health —it also took a toll on many Americans’ mental health. Research from KFF shows that 4 in 10 adults in the United States report experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression amid the pandemic, compared to 1 in 10 prior to COVID-19.
With this data in mind, employers have begun placing greater emphasis on mental health solutions in the changing workplace. A few prevalent solutions include:
- Mental health-related benefits: To promote employee health and well-being, some businesses have begun expanding the array of health benefits offered to employees to include coverage for counseling services and wellness check-ups.
- Partnership with technology companies that promote mental wellness: Some companies have begun purchasing corporate wellness apps such as Calm and Headspace. Providing free access to these resources encourages employees to focus on self-care and mental wellness outside of the workplace.
- Focused support for employees in minority groups: Management and HR leaders have also begun offering support for employees in marginalized demographics.
- Requests for frequent employee feedback: Work stress can have a significant impact on mental illness. Many management teams have begun requesting feedback from employees regarding their work-life balance and stress levels as a way to improve employee experience.
Increasing corporate focus on mental wellness will allow employees to prioritize their self-care and work-life balance while taking comfort in knowing that their employers support and encourage their well-being.
Hybrid Work Schedules
The hybrid work model is one of the most significant workplace trends to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. When lockdowns began in March of 2020, many companies allowed their employees to work remotely rather than in shared office spaces in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Since then, remote work has become a more widely accepted business practice around the country. Modern technology allows workers across dozens of industries to do their jobs from anywhere. However, the negative effects of excessive working from home have become apparent. The pandemic led remote workers to suffer from employee burnout, induced by Zoom fatigue, limited work-life separation, and feelings of isolation, among other factors.
The widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has led many management professionals to transition their workers back to the office. Many employers have begun to design and implement hybrid work schedules in which employees divide their time between in-office and remote work. The office provides employees a place to meet, collaborate, and bond with one another, while teleworking allows for increased flexibility and fewer commutes. While some businesses will continue to implement fully remote schedules, the majority would prefer to opt for flexible work schedules that allow employees to leverage the benefits of both remote and on-site work.
Implementing hybrid work models is a trend we can expect to see from an increasing number of businesses of all sizes in the coming months. These schedules make up some of the many solutions employers are implementing to improve employee satisfaction and engagement going forward.
Commitment To Diversity
In recent years, large corporations have begun hiring Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers to help ensure that their workplaces are diverse and that all employees are given the same opportunities. The racial equality movements of 2020 have led organizations to further their commitments to equality in the workplace.
One way corporations have begun emphasizing diversity is by pledging to allocate money and resources to equality initiatives. Bank of America, for example, has pledged to give $1 billion to combat racial inequality over the next four years.
Other companies have improved their diversity and inclusion targets to meet the growing demand for racial diversity in the workplace. Starbucks increased its corporate BIPOC employee target to 30% in a move to prioritize representation at the corporate level.
Prioritizing Societal Purpose
Social justice and responsibility have become hot topics over the past few months. As a result, many younger employees want to work for values-driven companies that prioritize social responsibility and engage in civically-driven initiatives.
To match the increasing demands for social responsibility, many companies have begun implementing community service projects and increasing their charitable donations. Experts have found that these social responsibility programs can improve a company’s public image and boost employee morale, both of which contribute to a company’s overall success.
Increased Digital Integration
While technological advancements have rapidly changed the modern workforce, some business leaders have resisted these changes in favor of tried and true processes. However, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders forced many businesses to transition to entirely digital processes. Once stay-at-home orders were lifted, many employers found that using modern technology improved productivity and led to greater flexibility in and outside the office. This technology includes virtual collaboration tools, such as Zoom, and cloud software.
In a similar vein, many companies have also had to pivot significantly to meet customer demand for online, remote-friendly services. At SquareFoot, for example, we quickly developed our capability to conduct virtual office space tours for our clients.
Workplace technology trends continue to change the way businesses think about their services and workflows.
If your company is in the market for a new office, we can help. Contact SquareFoot today to learn more about the available office space listings in your area.