The last two-plus years have seen undeniable changes in the way we all do business. Things that were once considered impossible, impractical or even frowned upon are now becoming standard, expected, and non-negotiable. Our world was turned upside down and we endured difficult times but there have been some notable transformations which have helped ease the burdens of working and doing business during the pandemic and beyond.
A critical shift in power from employers to employees
The Covid pandemic has resulted in a notable shift of power from employers to employees and the value proposition for employees has shifted from “work for me” to “work with me.” One reason for this is the increased demand for remote work which gives employees more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating salaries, benefits, and better, more balanced, working conditions. This power shift is likely to have a long-lasting impact on the labour market. Hierarchical business models are no longer favoured, and a more collaborative approach is expected from individuals in management roles.
Technology advancement is expected from most companies
Businesses all over the world were forced to change the way they operated once most places were forced into a lockdown. For many, success has meant embracing digital transformation and automation. By adopting these technologies, businesses can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time and resources to focus on more strategic initiatives. Additionally, tools like Zoom and Slack can help businesses build a successful hybrid model, which in turn attracts quality talent without geographical limits. Automation also allows businesses to quickly adapt to changing conditions and keep operations running smoothly.
A flexible hybrid model is favourable to most employees
The traditional 9-5 workday is no longer the most effective way to get work done. The pandemic was proof of this as there was no other choice if most companies wanted to remain productive and in business. Employees now favour a flexible hybrid model over returning to the office or working remotely full-time for several reasons. First, it allows them to work from home which helps reduce stress levels and increase productivity. Second, it gives employees more control over their time and how they use it. They can also take breaks when they need to, leading to improved focus and concentration.
Growing expectations for corporate DEI programs
Employees want to see action from their employers on their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, instead of just pledges or statements. With the rise of remote and hybrid work, there is a risk that proximity bias will increase existing disparities considering that employees from underrepresented groups are more likely to be working remotely. This could have negative consequences for those groups who are already at a disadvantage in the workplace.
Higher privacy requirements from employees
Employees expect to maintain the same level of privacy at work that they have become accustomed to at home during the pandemic. This includes being able to use work devices for personal purposes without having their activity monitored. It also includes having access to private, quiet spaces where they can focus on their work without distractions.
Better standards for health & well-being in the workplace
The pandemic has forced employers to get creative with how they support their workers’ mental health, and it’s paying off. In a recent survey, 89% of respondents said that their company’s efforts to improve mental health since the pandemic began have been successful. There are several reasons for this success, but one stands out: businesses are finally beginning to see the importance of addressing their employees’ mental health needs. This is a big shift from pre-pandemic times when mental health was often seen as a personal issue that employees should deal with on their own time. Now, companies are starting to realize that supporting their employees’ mental health is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.
Shortage of critical talents & higher turnover
The global gig economy was already on the rise but during Covid, the gig economy surged as people lost their primary jobs and looked for ways to make ends meet. Businesses were forced to adapt and change the way they operate which created the need for the flexible, hybrid models of work we mentioned. The transition of a large portion of the workforce trending toward gig work has created a permanent change in the talent pool. The number of people available for work has decreased as many have left the workforce permanently. This has led to a shortage of skilled workers in many industries.
A shift from customer-first to people-first
With the shift of generations, millennials and Gen-Z’s are generally more aware of their value. Leaders that treat customers like kings but employees as tools will have a rude awakening. Engaging employees and putting them at the center of every strategy and company decision, alongside the customers, is a sure formula for increased innovation, collaboration, and revenue.
Productivity is measured by output rather than input
The productivity of an employee used to rely heavily on their time at the desk, and how closely they were adhering to the office policies. These metrics have changed since the pandemic. Managers no longer had access to monitor what their employees were doing on the dot, and they depended solely on the results and impacts the employees brought to their business. This also gives the employees a chance to prove themselves outside of supervision.
Supply chain & product diversification
The pandemic has forced companies to re-evaluate their supply chains and product offerings. Many have had to diversify their products and services and source alternative sources for materials to stay afloat. There has also been a huge change to the way consumers shop, with many now opting for online or contactless options. This has put pressure on businesses to adapt their delivery and fulfillment processes to meet these new demands.
The manufacturing sector has also been hit hard and many factories have had to shut down due to the lack of raw materials and components. This has led to a shortage of finished goods, which has in turn driven up prices and added to inflation. This has also made room for new business opportunities and niches for small businesses to fill the gaps that were created.