December 14, 2020

How 2020 changed the workplace

The year 2020 has been such a significant disruption to our lives in more ways than you can imagine. But, has also accelerated and cemented many workplace trends. From the rise in remote working to the change in dress codes, we look at how this year has changed the modern workplace.

Working from home was the norm

Lockdowns forced many – even most – of us to set up shop for a while from our home office, lounge room or bedroom. Now, for many of us, there’s no going back. In fact, research conducted by the University of Sydney found that many Australians wish to work from home two days a week, with 75 per cent of us believing our employees should support that idea.

After all, COVID-19 killed the commute, given us an extra couple of hours in the working day, and, in many cases, has provided newfound flexibility to work, both in the way we want and when we want. However, with any up is a down. Many of us found working from home to be an isolating and lonely experience at times.

As part of the newfound trend towards remote working, many employers have come to the realisation that a company’s HR function can largely be carried out offsite. This has lead to a renewed interest in outsourced or virtual HR services.

Likelihood of continuing into 2021 and beyond: 9/10. I think for most workers out there, it dawned on them just how much of their job they can actually do without going into the office.

Productivity mattered most

Do you believe in ‘presenteeism’? Those who stake their reputation on being first in and last out of the workplace? Well, these employees have had to think of a different approach. With more employees out of site, 2020 has been less about the hours, but more about the quality of work being produced.

Likelihood of continuing into 2021 and beyond: 6/10. While this newfound emphasis on results has been great for business, there may be some employers out there that value long working hours. 

Managing was more difficult

Managing employees working remotely can be challenging at the best of times. Throw in an unprecedented pandemic, the need to stand down or lay off staff and management gets even more challenging. And, yet throughout all of this, the best managers still found a way to ensure that workplaces continue to share a sense of purpose to keep teams functioning. How? Through using regular catch-ups and team meetings blacked by video conferencing software.

Likelihood of continuing into 2021 and beyond: 0/10. While managing will always have its challenges, 2020 was as tough as it gets.

It wasn’t the best time to start a career

Who was one group that really felt the effect of 2020? Those starting a new job. As you know, when it comes to learning the ropes and getting on top of a new role, you rely on training, face-to-face interactions and induction periods. COVID-19 meant that this couldn’t happen. Spare a thought for those poor graduates and other new starters who had a pretty tough year entering the workforce.

Likelihood of continuing into 2021 and beyond: 3/10. We should be back to normal and hopefully, as we get more used to remote working, more mentoring can happen even when we’re not face-to-face.

Technology took off

Using technology in the workplace isn’t exactly a new trend, but 2020 meant we really had to embrace the digital world. Forced out of the office and with no other way to stay in touch, we relied on apps to conduct our meetings, keep track of projects and get our jobs done. How many of us knew what Zoom was at the start of the year? And, now, how many of us can’t live without it? Then there were the collaboration tools including Slack and Microsoft Teams, as well as Google G Suite Atlassian’s Jira and Trello and more.

Now, no matter what task you want to do at work or how you want to communicate, there really is an app for it.

Likelihood of continuing into 2021 and beyond: 10/10. There really is no going back.

What to expect from 2021

2021 is looking far more promising than 2020 – there’s a sense of optimism and I feel that people are approaching their work differently. Whilst 2020 has been challenging, it has certainly identified ways in which our jobs can be conducted differently. There are benefits to the office and there are benefits to working from home. It comes down to balance. If you would like to some advice or suggestions around structuring your workplace in 2021, then reach out to the Catalina Consultant team today.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

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