We all know that workplaces changed immensely in 2020 – most of us experienced it firsthand. And while the year might be over, the changes aren’t going anywhere. So, what does this mean for how we run our businesses, how we manage our people, and how we prepare for the short and long-term future?
Over the past five years, OI Global Partners has been producing an annual Future of Work Global Study. OIGP is a highly regarded global coaching, leadership development and consulting network, of which Choice is a partner. Combining survey results from thousands of HR and Business Leaders in hundreds of organisations worldwide, the study gives incredible insight into people challenges, skills and trends driving global business.
While always insightful, the 2020 report might be the most valuable yet.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and the impact of COVID – while chaotic and disruptive – provides an opportunity for businesses to reflect and build better practices going forward. The OI Global Partners report goes a long way to help plan for a future of work that no one anticipated.
The study includes a lot of data, so we’ve pulled out the most relevant and interesting findings. Here, we’ll take a more in-depth look at what they mean for you, what you can do with it, and how you can use your own experiences and those of others to build a better future.
The five most revealing results from the 2020 Future of Work report
1. Challenges have changed – and uncovered weak spots
For the first four years of the FOW report, key challenges remained consistent across most businesses. But things shifted in 2020 (no surprises there). The biggest challenges are now all COVID-related: managing remote working, maintaining employee engagement, and adapting to change.
This shows just how unprepared many businesses were for operational changes, and that most were reacting to changes and issues as they occurred, rather than initiating proactive action.
2. Managers were hit hard
A lot of the responsibility of dealing with these new challenges fell to managers. Yet many lacked the skills to appropriately support their teams and provide the collaboration, communication, engagement required in new environments.
Australian survey respondents specifically mentioned the lack of coaching skills managers had, noting it as a leading challenge and a priority to address.
3. Training and development look different
While there was clear recognition for increased training and development, the preference for how it is carried out has changed. With in-person learning and group training out of the question (and many employees working from home), self-directed learning and online development portals have taken off.
They are now the preferred training method and have increased employee initiative, with more employees taking control of their own development.
4. Technology is our friend, not foe
In 2020, fewer people reported seeing technology as a threat to jobs – potentially because they’ve seen how much it can do to support workers. Nearly every business in every industry relied on technology more than ever during the pandemic and were exposed to the possibilities of further implementing technology into operations.
It’s become clear that technology isn’t taking away jobs, but allowing people to do their jobs better and more efficiently in tougher environments.
5. Employees are looking for more
While 2020 was no doubt difficult for nearly everyone, many employees who were able to keep working also noticed some benefits. Most enjoyed more flexible working arrangements and an increased focus on their wellbeing, as well as more purposeful communication and collaboration.
It has led to employees realising that they can expect more benefits from their workplaces
What action should you be taking?
Build sustainability and flexibility
Adapting to change was a big challenge (and always has been). But without overthinking it, many organisations successfully adapted to change in 2020 – because they had no other choice. The task now is to adjust this quickfire change into a longer-term, more sustainable culture.
Hopefully, we won’t face a challenge similar to COVID again any time soon. But we will no doubt face other disruptions. Those businesses who do away with rigid processes and plan for more flexible operations are the ones who will ultimately achieve the best outcomes in the long term – better performance, better delivery, and better talent retention.
Focus on development and training
Two-thirds of survey respondents agree they will need to invest significantly in reskilling thanks to COVID and changing technology. 16% said they’ve already made a start. It will soon be very obvious the difference between those organisations who have prioritised development, and those who haven’t.
As mentioned, managers wear the brunt of change management and need the appropriate coaching to properly support their teams. Even executive-level leaders may need support in managing larger operational and cultural shifts that occur as the business adapts.
Online portals provide a great opportunity to build a comprehensive training and development platform that can house multiple sources and provide ongoing opportunities.
Support your people
It might seem obvious, but it’s incredibly easy for organisations to get caught up in business and forget about the human side. 2020 saw some pretty great changes as people looked out for each other more and businesses showed greater concern for employee health and wellbeing – don’t leave it in the past!
By providing a better environment for employees, businesses get a more engaged and higher-performing workforce. It also puts them in a better position to attract and retain top talent. To grow into flexible, adaptable, and durable employees, people require clear communication, easy collaboration, and purposeful work.
Making a change? Find the right support
2020 forced many businesses to turn inwards and manage changes independently, as we found ourselves physically cut off from the outside world. However, change management cannot always successfully be carried out by internal resources alone – especially when it comes to larger-scale culture or operational shifts. When it comes to initiating meaningful change, engaging external experts can improve the transition and your outcomes.
For over 20 years (including throughout the pandemic), Choice Career Services has helped businesses handle disruption, change management, and the human impact of change. We can help you with restructuring business, rebuilding organisational culture, and the development of your leaders and people.
As a part of the OI Global Partners network, we have unparalleled access to knowledge, experience, and abilities to help you implement global best-practice processes.
If you have any questions about the Future of Work report, or how you can implement change in your organisation, click here to contact us. Alternatively, click here to see our range of services and how we could assist your business.