The future of work has taken a dramatic turn over the last 18 months. From conjecture on the “4-day” work week to how common “remote work” and Work from Home would be going forward. In some cases, not too long along a few prominent companies actually ceased most of their remote work options and told employees to get back in the office! I know a major cable network marketing department that refused to let their employees work remotely because “they wouldn’t get work done”.
Actually, I think it was more that they didn’t have systems in place to let them efficiently work remotely …or it was just office politics. Regardless, the future of work has slapped everyone straight in the face.
Over a year into the pandemic and I think it’s safe to say that the world has made some significant changes and many things will probably never go back to the way they were. This includes the future of work.
Covid 19 has led businesses and individuals to find new innovations and to adapt. In the meantime, there have been some positive changes with increased ability to work from home or from a distance and new options for people to step out on a limb.
What is the future of work post-Covid 19? We expect to see more opportunities and more ability for versatility and working from a distance as well. We expect to see some changing trends and we’re here to share those with you!
Table of Contents
When the pandemic hit, many employers were forced to convert to allowing employees to work from home. The end result was that a vast majority of both employees and employers appreciated this capability. With that in mind, many employers have expressed they will continue to allow remote working to some extent.
One survey from Gartner tells us that nearly 90% of HR leaders have indicated they will continue to allow employees to work remotely in some capacity, even when there is an active vaccine and things start to return to normal.
Employers have found that it is beneficial to allow employees to work remotely. In addition, employees are happy with the versatility it provides for their family’s needs as well as their own. Not only does the option provide continued safety for valued employees but it gives everyone opportunity and can provide cost savings by not utilizing the office as much.
With remote working comes platforms for connecting to employers as well as new opportunities that are solely online and flexible.
Freelancing is one of the biggest trends that we are currently. Since the start of Covid 19, there have been more than 2 million Americans who have joined freelancing platforms like Upwork. An incredible number of people have turned to sites like this for work of their own design and choosing and many employers have also turned here to hire freelancers.
Fractional leadership is another rising theme during the pandemic. This action hires leadership in on a fractional role, which basically allows for additional support in some of the most advantageous leadership roles out there, including positions like CFO, CEO, and more.
Platforms like Hire Assemble are a great place to host these opportunities and find an appropriate match. I believe in opportunities like this, which is why I invested in this particular company.
We expect to see more opportunities and more ability for versatility and working from a distance as well
Covid 19 has led to dramatic adaptation in many ways. Even with critical work fields still working in person and closely together with a lot of people, changes have been made. Consider places like factories that are considered essential businesses.
These factories have had to learn how they can continue their production so that people can continue to purchase the goods that are needed for everyday life. In some cases, these factories were forced to reduce staff, and yet they had far more product demand to fulfill.
While most of these are back to full functionality, they were still forced to make changes as to how their employees do things and how they spread employees out to keep them safe. Even workplaces like the medical field have adapted while being hit hard with an overwhelming number of patients and lack of staff.
Here are some of the fields in which employees work closely together either with other employees or their customers.
- Medical care of any kind
- Retails stores
- Self-care locations like gyms and salons
- Home health care
- Production and warehouses
- Office locations and corporate headquarters
- Schools (from elementary to higher education)
- Construction and farming (primarily outdoors)
This is not an all-inclusive list but it does as least grasp the majority of industries that have had to adapt. As the vaccination becomes more available and cases reduce, these businesses will develop a new normal and will most likely continue to initiate safety protocols to protect their business and their employees as an outlook for the future of work.
The future of work is not just about recovering from the pandemic. In fact, while not all businesses have come out on top, there are a large number of businesses that saw a major increase in their revenues and demand for products or services.
Those businesses that were able to adapt to some form of digital approach have probably seen the most positive adaptation in the workplace. According to NBC News, small businesses that took the steps to use e-commerce capabilities achieved record sales. This measurement was specific to Black Friday but you can do a bit of research and find that it is true of a majority of the pandemic time.
Consider the rise in restaurants that adapted to carry out and delivery methods for their clients. What about the movie theaters that spread people out and let families or parties rent out the entire theater? Then, take a look at the number of people who took this time to tackle home projects and get outside?
The industries that sourced products for these things saw a major increase in demand. Lumber, outdoor play items, bicycles, and more became impossible to find as people took the opportunity to find new ways to have adventures when they couldn’t come together in large groups and gatherings.
As with other changes in the future of work, it becomes increasingly clear that we will see a shift in what is in demand. Not every business will have the surge in sales. We must remember certain industries that have been hit particularly hard and will be forced to find new ways to do business.
While many of these industries, like airline industries, will most likely survive they will also go through a period of time in which they have to recover from what Covid 19 has caused for them.
A lot of people found themselves laid off and without a job thanks to the pandemic. A lot of industries were forced to reduce employees or circulate them in order to conform to various safety needs.
Business functionality in these industries will be forced to change and while they might have a few rocky years ahead of them, they will return to a profitable era if they continue to work hard to overcome the downturn the pandemic caused for them.
A study from McKinsey & Company shares that the airline industry alone is facing a hit of over $1 trillion in new debt between 2020 and 2024. In the same study, they also believe the industry will become profitable again but it will take some time and great effort. They will be forced to restructure but also raise their equity and work towards growth.
In the same study, you see similar needs to fuel, consumer lending, automotive, and more. One major change is that many businesses are being forced to move to the cloud or perhaps develop an online presence they have never needed as heavily before.
There are both benefits and downsides that have been experienced during the changes that Covid 19 has brought to a vast number of businesses. On one hand, we know that many individuals have felt a drastic pull on their mental health. The question is whether or not this is at all related to work and how it can be improved with the future of work.
Many businesses have become far more aware of their employee’s needs for mental health support and many have taken some great strides to develop employee engagement and support so that their employees feel a greater connection rather than just an overwhelming responsibility.
With surveys from companies like McKinsey & Company, we find that the challenge with employees is that they are concerned about mental health more than anything else. In the time of the pandemic, more than 90% of businesses have made changes to their HR policies to provide their employees with resources and yet only about 1 in 6 employees feel supported.
We see employees making a lot of changes and making an effort but the unfortunate part of that is employees still feel their challenges are really not being sufficiently covered. Businesses will need to continue to make strides and perhaps even get creative in providing solutions that will be suitable for their employees to truly feel safe but also well-supported in all aspects.
One of the things we might notice the most in the future of work is the change in trends of the top industry leaders as well as the top employers. Employees are taking a closer look at the transparency of their employers and being involved and communicated with. It’s amazing how substantial of a difference this makes for many individuals who want to be aware.
Not only will we see new industry leaders but we will also see new expectations from employees in order to understand what the long-term impacts of the pandemic might be on the business. They want to know how businesses will substantiate Covid 19 changes.
That means that business owners and employers around the world need to start being proactive now. They should be making plans and they should be communicating with their employees. The businesses that do communicate and have an open plan are far more likely to be backed by valued employees.
The employers who are active and open with employees are more likely to be progressive and stumble atop the top-tier of employers. From past trends, we expect to see some new industries and employers here.
People who have been displaced because of Covid 19 are going to look for these trends and gravitated towards the employers who make an effort to be open and honest going forward.
In the past, many businesses have taken a stance of being efficient as opposed to being prepared for anything, or resilient. How many businesses took a direct hit and had to respond impulsively rather than being prepared and ready to handle such a situation?
While there have been pandemics in the past, the volume that Covid 19 has affected is far more impaling. Most disaster implementation plans were attuned to things like fire, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes but very few planned for how they would respond to an international pandemic.
Most businesses have developed their plans around growth and efficiency as opposed to being resilient when hit with a major downturn or possibly an upturn like what Covid 19 brought to the table.
In the past, the design of an organization might have considered things like supply chain, workflow, streamlining. All of these are geared specifically towards the efficiency of processes. Efficiency will forever be a vital role that should be considered but resilience needs to take the state for a time.
The problem with efficiency and programs designed specifically towards that is that they aren’t flexible. Then something major hits, like the pandemic, and those businesses don’t have a response or a plan. So, while their processes have always proven successful, they have no clue how to adapt them to survive.
With that in mind, resilience should become a focus. Businesses need to continue to plan for efficiency but also have a response in place. Organizations should be attuned to responsiveness so that their structures are more flexible and capable to be adjusted when the situation requires it.
On the same note, businesses and organizations should also prepare employees for resilience. From cross-training to having the ability to work from home or adapt to an adjusted setting, these are key aspects to the future of work.
While the future of work will certainly be a change from what business as usual has always been prior to the pandemic, it could be a move in the right direction. Employers and employees alike are striving for more and they are doing it together.
About the Author
Jonathan Hung is one of the most active angel investors in Southern California, his mission is to drive value creation within each portfolio company. In support of this mission, he serves as Co-Managing Partner at – Unicorn Venture Partners.
Jonathan and his team target investments in US companies that have global market potential with a focus on long-term growth expansion to East Asian markets.
Jonathan developed his investing prowess as a Managing Member for his family office fund, J Heart Ventures, which made investments in start-up companies such as Gyft, ChowNow, Miso Robotics, Clover Health, Bitmain, to name a few startups he funded.
Jonathan has various degrees from the University of Southern California, London School of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.