Are the pandemic-driven work changes going to stick?

work from hom

April 7, 2021

How is the COVID-19 pandemic changing our world of work? According to the International Labor Organization, 2.7 billion people—roughly 80% of the global workforce—have been affected by COVID-19-related lockdowns. Businesses scrambled to find virtual alternatives for their longstanding business models and practices. Remote work scenarios quickly became standard operating procedure.

Looking back over the last year, it’s astonishing just how profound and sudden some of these changes were.

The question now is, which of the changes made in response to the pandemic will stick? Here are three to consider:

1. The new workplace can be almost anywhere - The verdict is in, remote work can work. It’s easy to see the success of remote work as a technology issue, but the reality is that many C-suite leaders were reluctant to adopt it prior to the pandemic because of entrenched assumptions about how “unsupervised” workers would be less productive. Now, we’re seeing businesses rethink just how much physical office space they’ll need in the future due to the success of remote work and hybrid paradigms.

2. Automation has made work more “human” - Automation technology helped many businesses plug critical labor gaps during the pandemic, and it’s likely that these technologies will continue to assume many of the tasks that the human workforce currently performs. Is this a formula for massive unemployment? History shows that automation technology tends to create more opportunities for human workers than it destroys. It frees flesh-and-blood employees to focus on the work that’s more demanding, more creative, and more fulfilling.

3. Data is driving workplace personalization - Businesses collected a lot of data about their workforce during the lockdown, and they’re putting that data to work to help them zero in on which traits are the best fit for specific jobs. It also helped them see how many people can do more than the limited sphere of tasks in their current job. In other words, data will continue to drive better hiring decisions and help people expand their horizons as their careers evolve.

Interested in a deeper dive into these topics? Check out this executive brief.

Connect with me on LinkedIn – would love to hear what strategies are sticking for you and your company?

Matt Bragstad, VP, Head of People Solutions Vision & Strategy, Infor

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