2020 saw massive shifts in the way those in the U.S. and around the world do business, introducing new challenges and trends and accelerating many of those already in motion. As we move to recover from the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, many business leaders are reckoning with the lifestyle changes of both workers and consumers.
All of those changes mean businesses will continue to shift for the remainder of 2021 and beyond. Here are a few of the ways we can all expect see business evolving and what that means for you.
In 2020, many U.S. workers left the office—and it doesn’t look like they’re going back anytime soon. As of May 2021, Gallup estimates 45 percent of U.S. full-time workers were working remotely, and nearly a third of them would like to continue to do so as much as possible. Modern business leaders must be prepared to respond to this with hybrid plans or be prepared to work with their teams at a distance, remaining flexible and open-minded to adopting new technologies and communication styles to meet employees’ needs.
2020’s widespread shift to remote work paired with travel restrictions meant that many businesses had to find new ways to connect with partners, clients and prospects. The ubiquity of videoconferencing has allowed companies to cut transportation costs while making real-time meetings more accessible than ever. While face-to-face interaction isn’t going to disappear completely, many CEOs may think twice about which prospects are important enough to warrant travel when they have effective digital options at their fingertips.
Employers that provide benefits focused on areas like mental and financial health show a 21 percent increase in the number of high performers compared to organizations that don’t provide the same degree of support to their employees. Because the pandemic blended the personal and professional lives of employees in ways we haven’t seen before, companies will be emphasizing things that make employees’ lives better. Implementing flexible schedules, additional time off and employee check-ins are all ways that businesses are now trying to maximize employee retention and attract high-quality candidates.
Social issues were at the forefront in 2020, and that is entering the workplace. Research from Gartner, shared in the Harvard Business Review, shows that 74 percent of employees now expect their employer to become more actively involved in the cultural debates of the day, and the companies that listen see a 20 percent jump in the number of “highly engaged” employees. And it’s not just workers — 62 percent of consumers globally want companies to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues. CEOs will have to grapple with this issue to reap the benefits both internally and with consumers.
No matter if you are the CEO of a business or an entry-level employee, if you want to enter the business world in 2021, these issues will likely touch you.