How has your workplace changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Big and small changes alike, your average workday likely looks dramatically different than it did at the beginning of 2020. Companies across the country are shifting processes to keep employees healthy. And, although these changes came about out of necessity, we expect that companies will keep and adapt many of them—changing the course of business development in 2021. As we navigate the future of the workplace, let’s take a look at what we expect to see in the coming year.

1. Increased Use and Advancement of Collaboration Tools

You may notice that your team is using collaboration tools much more often. By now, tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are likely heavily ingrained in your day-to-day processes. If so, your team is among the majority. Web conferencing software has seen a whopping increase of 500% since the beginning of the pandemic. This statistic is not at all surprising. Conversations that once took place in the hallways of your office and at the metaphorical water cooler are all taking place virtually now. So, companies have begun to rely on conferencing tools to keep their employees engaged and connected.

We don’t expect this trend to slow down in 2021 either, regardless of the trajectory of the pandemic. When companies find collaboration platforms that work for them, they may find that their employees are actually more satisfied and productive. By giving your employees the tools they need to succeed, you open your company to new opportunities—flexible work-from-home options, hiring employees from outside of your area, and more.

2. Use of Coworking Spaces

Now that companies see that in-person work is not always necessary, we expect to see many of those companies abandoning their traditional office space and turning to more modern options, such as coworking spaces. The opportunity to save on overhead costs will benefit not only the company itself but can also benefit customers and employees. For customers, pass-through savings could save them money on goods and services. And, for employees, the lack of a traditional office space can pave the way for more flexible work schedules, while allowing them to work from wherever they choose.

Letting go of permanent office spaces creates challenges that coworking spaces can solve—employees needing space away from home to work, or teams needing to meet face-to-face with their clients. Coworking spaces have seen a slower growth pace in 2020, as many individuals are still navigating their transition from in-office work to work-from-home spaces. However, the coworking industry expects to make a significant rebound in 2021, with a growth rate of 21.3%, with more than 40,000 coworking spaces in operation by the year 2024.

3. Hiring Employees from Outside Your Area

Flexibility in the workplace opens another exciting opportunity for companies worldwide—hiring employees who do not live within driving distance. Now that employees can more easily work from wherever they choose, companies can hire top talent without having location restrictions, while also saving on possible relocation costs. This change also opens the opportunity for your current employees to relocate without leaving your company, reducing turnover, and allowing you to continue nurturing the talented people already on your team.

4. Working While Traveling

Your employees who love to travel (or who have always wanted to travel but haven’t had the opportunity) may find 2021 to be their year. As many workplaces have gone virtual, employees could be in their home office or across the country, and their work would be no different. We expect to see many employees take advantage of this opportunity to travel while they work. The gig and freelance economy laid the groundwork for individuals to fulfill their travel dreams, and now our full-time employees can take part as well.

5. Safe Employee Gatherings

Though employees can connect virtually, it doesn’t entirely replace the in-person connection, does it? When they find that they can do so safely, we expect to see many companies planning socially-distanced employee gatherings. The pandemic has produced many creative solutions for coming together while staying healthy. Notably, the music group The Flaming Lips recently hosted an in-person concert, where its attendees were enclosed in bubbles. While the next time you see your coworkers may not be while in giant hamster globes, you might see other creative ways pop up that allow in-person connection, while also keeping you and your team safe.

6. Development of Remote Work Policies

The profound changes we’ve seen throughout the past several months will undoubtedly lead to continued changes in 2021. With these changes, it will be necessary to modify several of your employee handbook policies to reflect the new work environment. Take particular notice of your policies that surround remote work, information security, and other virtually-oriented details. Once you comb through and modify your policies, it’s important to walk through those changes with your employees and allow them to ask any questions or pose any concerns they may have.

7. An Increased Awareness of Remote Information Security Risks

Though information security is important for in-person environments, remote work comes with its own set of security risks. Work with your IT team to create stronger information security processes, and educate your employees about keeping themselves and your company safe. As you work through these changes, be sure to also incorporate them into your employee handbook.

Is Your Company Prepared for Policy Changes in the New Year?

We can prepare you for success in 2021! Contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help you navigate changes in the workplace.