For some two years now, COVID-19 changed the way we work from 9 to 5. Also, it now seems obvious that the pre-COVID office epoch would never restore to what it was before! Working remotely has not only emerged as a new standard but is also expected to have an enduring impact in the years to come.
Therefore, what does the future of work hold? It does feel as if there is something deeper than being just a consequence of the digital transformation brought about by COVID-19. In today’s article, we are going to explore some key business aspects of these new work patterns, especially those which are expected to shape the post-COVID work landscape.
Not certain if the work changes will be that profound? Well, take a look at this Deloitte’s video as a starter…
The “new normal” and the way ahead
We can almost bet that “the new normal” will be the buzzword of the decade referring to the new realities brought about by COVID-19. However, we are already living in a post-COVID era — how about the years to come?
We can already witness discussions about the “next normal” — a term generally attributed to McKinsey, denoting all-encompassing digital adaptation that businesses face in all of their operations. And this inevitably relates to our topic of interest. Let us see how!
The “new normal” concerning work
The new normal has put on the table a set of new work-related trends. We may certainly highlight:
- “work from home” as a pervasive work pattern;
- shift to “virtual-first” companies;
- need to learn new technology-related skills;
- blur of the borderline between personal and professional lives;
- obvious decline of the old office culture…related to which we may also see new team-building patterns and more.
You can further explore these patterns here.
The “next normal” and the future of work
Already living in a post-COVID era, many of these new work styles appear to have a greater multi-dimensional effect on the future of work than what we all originally expected.
For example, they now also relate to the way we reinvent our office space, adapt to become quick learners, the way we manage our mental health, flexibility and/or attitudes, etc. In a series of top executive interviews, the BBC Worklife also highlights that the big change may also involve the impact of the “hybrid” workstyles on the way we communicate, it may profoundly influence our willingness to come back to the office, it may alter our social interactions in the long term, level gender equality at work, etc.
As all of this goes far beyond the simple physical relocation from corporate offices to home offices, some leading business analysts have defined it as “a once-in-several-generations change” (McKinsey).
The future of work after COVID-19
It may be a little bit early to predict with 100% certainty how the future work-related landscape will look like. Yet, there are certain tangible consequences of the COVID-19 impact that we may try to sketch even now.
According to McKinsey, one of the greatest work consequences of COVID-19 was that millions of people lost their jobs. At the same time, the number of people who faced the need of changing jobs has now become considerably higher. Further, the classic mix of occupations (see in the picture below) shifted.
On the other hand, the unseen digital transformation we all experienced affected every aspect of the way we live and work. More than that, some digital sectors such as e-commerce grew 5 times faster than expected. This accelerated also the adoption of AI as well as the cloud adoption, where finding new talent became a common challenge (e.g. see Forbes).
Finally, remote work was officially integrated into our regular working ways, thus leaving the traditional work routine in the past.
Accelerated digital transformation
As highlighted by Forbes, the COVID-19 effect on digital business transformation was described as “two years of digital transformation in two months” (Microsoft).
This was generally attributed to the big potential of cloud technologies to assure (Gartner):
- optimized IT costs;
- supported and secured remote work stations;
- resilience of operation;
Thus, the cloud services sector also witnessed fast-tracked development. If still in need of a cloud consulting provider, take a look at our article casting light on what to consider.
Work trends 2021
In a nutshell, the present and future of post-COVID work are expected to be characterized by:
- transformation of the traditional office culture into a more supportive culture;
- rethinking of the office space;
- increase of the share of “virtual-ready” companies, which can always support digital operation;
- increased demands for modern technology;
- overlaps between personal and professional worlds;
- increased focus on mental well-being;
- new gender balances;
- probably fewer business travels and more.
If you are interested in seeing how specific companies reacted to these changes, you may see some case studies on the topic see here.
COVID-19 changed the way we work forever. Along the way, it brought about significant demand for sophisticated digital skills, virtualized offices and business operations in the cloud. Although the future of work is still uncertain, there are some profound changes that may be witnessed now.
If you are facing the challenge of digital transformation and would like to start your operations in the cloud, do not hesitate to get in touch!