The Future of Work in 2021

by Pranav Ramesh
April 14, 2021
The Future of Work in 2021

According to a study conducted by Microsoft, over 40 percent of the global workforce are considering leaving their employers this year. Considering the expansive ramifications of this exodus, it’s now critical that a new, more thoughtful approach to the working environment is needed to attract and retain talent.

What economists and business leaders have termed as the ‘Great Resignation’ is a post lockdown reality that employers are having to come to terms with where talent is reassessing their priorities. Money had little to do with the choice to leave for an employee. The decision to quit is more often based on their relationship with their employer and the kind of support they received during the pandemic. Workers choose to stay with companies that extended support, invested in their careers and helped them grow in their personal lives while leaving those that only saw them as a number.

Changes in Employee Expectations

After a year and a half of going through various ups and downs, there is a new conversation on when and if employees will be heading back to the workplace. The reasons why employees don’t want to head back to the office are well documented. Working from home, they’ve been as productive, some have found it easier to blend work and life, and the commute has added hours back to their lives. What changed this past year is employee expectations and a growing need to define productivity more broadly. Employees want more opportunities for career advancement, collaboration, and learning while maintaining their physical wellbeing. In addition to these expectations employees also want more flexibility to decide how, when, and where they work.

 

The Employers’ Response

 

Rapid transformation at work affects employers and employees equally. Do they expect employees to flock back to offices when it’s safe again? No. The future of work that they envisioned is changing and organizations are adapting. But leadership forecasts have been optimistic. A study conducted by Microsoft also found that 61% of business leaders stated that “they are thriving now”. Additionally, they also reported building stronger relationships with their peers.

However, what changed most for them is their ability to create relationships with their employees while leading remotely. Leaders who persist to and wish to make in-person connections, should be considering few questions— is it the right time for employees to return? Who should return to the workplace? How are the returning employees going to be protected?