After 2 tumultuous years of pandemic, the world has changed significantly in the way we live and work. To be exact, the way we work is still changing. We’ve braved the unknown world of Covid-19 and got acquainted with the Delta variant. Likewise, companies have reluctantly tried remote working with surprising success. Just as we think we can finally head back to our office desks, the arrival of Omicron has shelved business plans to make a full return to offices.
Will this ever end? Probably not.
There will be a new power dynamic in the workplace, and it isn’t coming from the top. Employee voice will be louder. They will be expressing their opinions in order to have meaningful input in their work. They will want a say in work-related decision making, and that includes where and when to work. If unheard, they are likely to leave their jobs. And with such stiff competition to bag the best talents, organizations will have to look beyond financial goals to make work, work for everyone. Looks like a four-day workweek may be gaining one foot in the door.
As workers discover what they want (and don’t want) out of the workplace thanks to working from home for an extended period, flexibility tops the list. Among the SEA respondents surveyed by EY in their 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, nine in ten employees want flexibility in where and when they work, without which more than half would consider leaving their jobs post pandemic. Some other key findings include:
Remote working has brought some form of work-life balance and much flexibility to many professionals. Some companies have discovered the advantages of hybrid working - a flexible approach where employees can choose to either work from the office or work remotely. The hybrid workplace trend will certainly become more commonplace in 2022. What’s likely to happen is that workers will have the choice to elect how they would like to work rather than being forced to accept an organization’s chosen approach. For organizations, this means they have to reinvent and tweak processes to formalize hybrid models of working.
As the economy shows subtle signs of recovery and business activities pick up, new jobs are emerging. Organizations are also realising that employees no longer stay long in their roles. The influx of Zen Z in the workplace signals a wave of younger employees. They are eager to learn and network as much as possible; moving on to wherever there are opportunities that match their values, purposes and life goals. The emphasis on reskilling and upskilling has also given older workers more confidence and career options. With an array of free and paid courses online, individuals are better equipped to market themselves for more diversified roles. Job hopping no longer comes with a negative connotation. Rather, job hopping is now labelled ‘normal’ - and a job hopper who has upskilled on several levels is now being viewed in a positive light as one who has initiative.
We’re entering a new era of work, one filled with the promises and possibilities of automation, virtual reality, AI and more recently, the Metaverse. The need to upgrade in terms of digital skills is more urgent than ever. In one of the largest global surveys by PwC, 60% of 32,500 workers fear that automation will put their jobs at risk. To bridge the digital divide, 77% of those surveyed are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain. The pandemic has accelerated companies’ automation plans and as a result of rapid digitization, digital skills will be much sought after in 2022 and beyond.
In order to secure the best candidates who have the in-demand skills in order for organizations to move forward, HR teams have to be extra creative to attract top talents and continuously nurture relationships with potential talents to build a deep talent pool. Organizations need to think strategically and invest in real-time HR data software that will access current labour data and predict future labour market trends and needs for the next decades in order to survive talent shortages.
We are living in a time where viruses are springing surprises on us. The vulnerability and uncertainties of our lifetimes are enough to put mental stress on anyone. The good thing is that organizations are sitting up and taking notice. Mental health is no longer a taboo topic, but one to be addressed with honesty, empathy and social responsibility. We are the sum of every human being’s well being. In 2022, organizations will take proactive steps to safeguard the welfare of their employees; and assume a greater responsibility to ensure both mental and physical health of the people that are working for the productivity and progress of the organization.
Individuals now want to work for organizations that have a strong social conscience. For HR professionals, this means building their strategies around an organization’s social and environmental ethics that are agreeable with people’s values and beliefs. Employer branding will be a top priority for organizations in 2022 to lure, attract and retain the best people. Organizations that provide flexibility for remote work arrangements will further brand themselves as employers of choice.
Just as viruses are always mutating into new variants, the way we work will constantly evolve. There will not be a new normal, everything new has to be normal. It’s about time we stop reacting to the pandemic, but start planning ahead with these fast-developing workplace trends so that we can at least rein in a grip on the virus’ spikes.
You may also be interested in this: If The Future Is Remote, Will Work Life Balance Thrive Or Suffer?
There’s a better way to grow. And it’s not the traditional way.
It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result, benefit the economy as a whole?
You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.
Anders Melin and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Employees Are Quitting Instead of Giving Up Working From Home, Bloomberg (1 June 2021)
Majority of surveyed Southeast Asia (SEA) employees prefer not to return to pre-COVID-19 ways of working, EY Press Release (13 Jul 2021)
Hopes and fears 2021, PwC (Feb 2021)
Maren Thomas Bannon, 7 Future Of Work Predictions For 2022, Forbes (8 Dec, 2021)