2020 has accelerated our willingness to change not only how we work, but how we think about work. There are signs that how we work and what we value will be transformed as 2021 gets closer. These changes are in store based on our 2020 experience.
- Family dinner returns Life with long commutes and staggered dinner times has changed our expectations. Increased family time has now become more attainable, even in a demanding job. Family dinner and more flexibility will no longer be a luxury or an exception, but an expectation that will impact where we choose to work.
- Complete career ownership – given more limited options for in-person informal conversations with a potential mentor or lunch with a manager to ask for advice, the ownership is now on each of us to virtually create that same opportunity. You can’t wait for the situation to just happen or someone else to create the need to connect. This will require setting time to connect and talk about your growth, find out about another role, and build relationships differently. Career ownership will require more individual intent on growing your career than ever before.
- Local talent walls come down. Organizations that have relied on local talent or relocation now have options that didn’t exist before. Virtual working is now more accepted and expected. Even if you plan to reset back to more local in person presence with clients, you may have a virtual team member with the right expertise, and it will likely be more accepted than in the past. This virtual option means your available talent just expanded exponentially. Also, you may retain the great performer who has to make a family move to another geography.
- Setback to idolizing the workaholic. This virtual working model has upended how we give feedback and assess productivity. If a team member arrives early and stays late, they are “on it,” getting it done and likely viewed as highly productive even if they aren’t. Now that we can’t rely on our eyes for who’s working ‘hard,’ the emphasis will be on outcomes and measures and a change we needed anyway. Was work completed timely and in a quality way? This change also increases leaders’ expectations to define outcomes upfront, the success measures, and set check-ins along the way.
- End of travel for the 2-hour meeting. The cost savings are enormous, and we’ve lived the business case that travel isn’t needed to make the decision. Business travel will be limited to work that requires an in-person review, relationship building, and creative collaboration that needs an in-depth in-person discussion. This new approach to travel has lifestyle, efficiency, and cost implications. It may also expand talent options to those who wouldn’t have chosen a role with significant travel.
- Virtual and flexible work options will be expected not aspirational – We’ve been talking about flexible working options for years. This option or policy is not new, yet 2020 has accelerated the set point. Organizations that embrace this way of working and learn to do virtual really well – will elevate their attraction and retention of top talent. Flexible working has become a ‘must have’ for many more now that we’ve seen it can work.
- Organizations will be separated by living in the future or in the past. The organizations that adapt and seize the opportunity to work differently will attract better talent from more places and be recognized by clients and customers for their adaptability and creativity. The line between the old way of working and the new ways will be brighter than ever before and have a profound impact on company brand and success.
It’s October, and 2020 is in the home stretch. We can all celebrate this! As you think about 2021 and how to adapt to our changing world – plan now to future proof your organization and career because the snap back to the way it was will never happen.