Stats and Trends Title

What are the biggest changes employers have made?


The coronavirus crisis has seen many organisations change how and where they work...

Words by Jade Burke | Design by Matt Bonnar

Words by Jade Burke


Design by Matt Bonnar

 

2020 served up a whole host of new ways of working that HR teams and employees had to adjust and adapt to. While the last few months have been a catalyst for change as a result of the global pandemic, what does this mean for 2021 when it comes to HR?

We don’t anticipate a mass return to the office space irrespective of how covid is under control

Going officeless

Thanks to the shift to remote working many offices have now become redundant. This has lead some firms to become officeless, including recruitment firm OX Seven Talent Partners. The business’ Founder and Managing Director, Will Grashoff, revealed in the summer of 2020 that the business was “officially officeless”. Writing on LinkedIn he said: “OX Seven Talent Partners are officially officeless. Our lease came to an end and we decided not to renew (there are more factors than COVID-19).”

It appears that Grashoff’s move dovetails with what employees want: which is to continue working remotely. A report called Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown by academics at Cardiff University and the University of Southampton found that nine out of 10 people who worked from home during the coronavirus lockdown want to continue doing so.

Martin Bell, People, Talent & Culture Director at charity The Devon Air Ambulance Trust, also supports this view as he tells HR Grapevine: “We don’t anticipate a mass return to the office space irrespective of how covid is under control. Employees will need to learn lessons from working during the pandemic and apply them quickly, maintaining focus on work-life balance as well as productivity in ways we haven't had to consider beforehand. That flexibility extends to how we treat our staff too, hence now offering an earnings on demand benefit to all employees.”

 
 

Culture shifts

For many employees, the culture an organisation endorses is critical in fuelling reasons behind them staying put. Research discovered by Randstad echoes this, as 58% of employees shared that they have left a job or would consider leaving one if they felt the culture was permeated by negative politics. In contrast, a positive culture can also prove beneficial to a business as Deloitte previously revealed that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.

This year, because the vast majority of employees have worked remotely, culture has been dented dramatically as HR leaders battle to keep teams connected via virtual means. And for Cat Moseley, Chief People Officer at car supermarket Motorpoint, the last 12 months have signified just how important having the right culture embedded within a business is.

Due to this, she believes that culture will be very much on HR leaders’ radars for 2021. However, she adds that HR should be careful to not focus on too much development when it comes to culture. “Being confident in your culture is really important and you shouldn’t deviate too much from this as it is something that grows strength and impact organically over years,” she explained. “Too much ‘development’ can make it disingenuous but finding different levers to enhance it and achieve the employee engagement from it will however be where the innovation comes.”

 

Being confident in your culture is really important and you shouldn’t deviate too much from this

Virtual networking

Communication with peers and colleagues online isn’t an alien concept for workers, as for some time professionals have used social media and professional networking sites to link up with others. This is replicated in stats shared by Fit Small Business, which discovered that 40% of people network more online than in person. However, this year this way of connecting has been the only method available to employees as the pandemic has prevented any physical interactions from happening.

For Trish Kelly, HRG Lead UK & Ireland at tech firm Rockwell Automation, this is only expected to increase throughout 2021. She continues: “Virtual networking isn’t exactly a new concept, as we have been able to communicate over the internet since the mid-1990s. But what we are seeing now is more online events are featuring virtual networking spaces for people to have one-on-one or team video chats.”

Due to this, Kelly believes that virtual experiences like this will begin to evolve and adapt in line with the new ways of working following the pandemic, as she explains: “And so, I think we might see new virtual reality digital experiences which allow people to network and communicate with colleagues in innovative ways.”

 

I think we might see new virtual reality digital experiences which allow people to network and communicate with colleagues in innovative ways

Empathy and Support

Since the pandemic started, empathy and wellbeing have been top of the agenda. As Jason Fowler, HR Director & Head of HR Northern & Western Europe at Fujitsu Global, explained to HR Grapevine in last month’s magazine: “Now [after the advent of coronavirus], managers genuinely and sincerely have to think about the care they’re giving to their team and have to want to know and care about how they’re feeling.”

Josh Bersin, leading HR commentator and Founder and Dean of Josh Bersin Academy, believes an empathetic approach will have to continue into 2021. “We need to work toward finding new ways of working, centred on a new, more empathetic role for leadership,” he told HR Grapevine. He added: “In practice, this includes regular structured management-team communications and all-hands meetings, complemented by regular listening, surveys, and feedback. HR leaders also need to think more yoga and positive thinking classes than admin, as well as supporting coaching to help employees build resilience to cope with social and workplace change that will only accelerate.”


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