'Tectonic shifts of 2020' | Future of work decisions for HR this year

Future of work decisions for HR this year

As the HR function continues to address changes in the business landscape amid the coronavirus crisis, new research from Gartner Inc. has shed light on some of the most essential ‘future of work’ decisions that people professionals must make in 2021.

Emily Rose McRae, Director in the Gartner HR Practice, explained that this year will be a year of recovery, but also of “renewal and acceleration”.

“Given the tectonic shifts of 2020, HR leaders will have to face decisions they must be ready to make in order to set their organisations up for success,” McRae added.

To help with this, HR Grapevine has collated a list of three important future of work decisions that the people function must make this year.

Read on to find out more.

Redefining office space

It seems inevitable that the mass-move to remote working will have a lasting effect on the workplace, and many businesses such as Unilever and Twitter have already confirmed that there will be no requirement for workers to come back to the office full-time in the immediate future. 

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This leaves HR with a conundrum; if the office is never returning to its former self, how is this space best utilised for productivity and wellbeing? According to Gartner, corporate offices will now compete to serve employees’ physical and emotional work needs. “Organisations must decide what their corporate offices can offer employees that other spaces cannot. To do this, HR leaders must understand employees’ emotional needs and identify opportunities where the workplace can meet these needs,” the data explained.

Employment model reviews 

Throughout the pandemic, many businesses attempted to mitigate the financial volatility and changing customer behaviours by altering their employment models. Ideas such as requiring workers to fulfil just 80% of their working hours in exchange for 80% of pay or bringing in gig workers to manage inflated workloads may well be concepts that continue far beyond the pandemic.

Therefore, HR needs to decide how they either plan to proceed with these new models as a permanent fixture, or when such initiatives will draw to a close in 2021. "This will be particularly relevant for organisations with a high percentage of older employees in critical roles – offering greater flexibility in not just when employees are working, but how much they work, can help retain employees who otherwise might retire,” the research added.

Commitment to D&I

As HR’s role as a strategic leader became more apparent in 2020, this was paralleled with a concerted drive toward better D&I targets within many businesses. A previous Gartner survey found that 74% of employees expect their employer to take a stance on current societal or cultural issues, even if those issues have nothing to do with their employer.

Therefore, in 2021, HR must decide how to proceed with these efforts, and to what extent their commitment to improving D&I must be either increased or revised.

What major decisions do you foresee your business making in 2021? Let us know in the comments…

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