Working from home. Schooling from home. Social distancing. New workplace norms. New consumerism rules. Mask mandates. It’s difficult to identify one aspect of personal life or society left untouched by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, the global workforce — including hiring after COVID-19 — will also look different for the foreseeable future. Here are five global work trends that will most affect human resources professionals.
1. Some Previously On-Site Employees Will Work Remotely Forever
Working from home was already a widely accepted option before COVID-19 happened, but some employers still decided not to offer the possibility. Once remote work became the safest arrangement for many companies during the pandemic, some decision-makers realized that people stay productive at home, and many get even more done.
Netflix, Microsoft, Shopify and Fujitsu are among the companies where people will be working remotely for the long term. Some businesses provide it as a permanent possibility. Gartner’s April 2020 survey found that 74% of leaders would move at least 5% of their workforces to a remote working model for good post-COVID-19.
2. Companies Will Invest More in Reskilling Employees
Even before the pandemic affected the world, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) necessitated that some employees learn new skills soon to stay competitive. Analysts say it’s even more vital now that employers double down on their educational efforts related to reskilling. If they do, they’ll be better prepared for the technological changes on the horizon, plus be more resilient during future significant disruptions.
This trend may slow, but not stop, hiring after COVID-19. Some reskilling efforts will teach workers new roles adjacent to their original ones. One example from a company operating in West Africa during the Ebola crisis was that truck drivers learned to operate excavators. However, reskilling also involves getting acquainted with digital activities. Doctors may need to become more comfortable with using tools to conduct remote visits, for instance.
3. Efforts to Hire International Workers May Need Longer Timelines
Companies that want to hire international workers have several options. One commonly selected choice due to convenience is to work with an employer of record. That entity handles all payroll, taxes and benefits necessities. That approach could mean a company could hire a top-choice candidate in a matter of days. However, hiring after COVID-19 could become more complex due to new rules and delays associated with aspects like visa processing.
For example, authorities in Ireland ruled that medical-related employment permits took precedence during the pandemic. They warned that applicants for all other types should expect delays — even if they previously submitted their documentation before the decision occurred. The United States disallowed people to arrive on certain permissions through at least the end of 2020. These changes mean employers must show more patience when hiring global workers.
4. Employers Will Stop Requiring Such Rigid Schedules
One of the most anticipated global work trends: Besides the additional flexibility that comes with working remotely instead of on-site, employees can likely expect more opportunities to participate in four-day workweeks. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently joined people backing shorter workweeks for numerous reasons. She believes the switch would promote domestic tourism in her country.
Others supporting the idea point out that it would help people have a better work-life balance. When Microsoft workers in Japan participated in a four-day workweek trial, their productivity increased by 40%, and employees earned the same amount. COVID-19 has made managers think about work differently. That means many will feel more open to the idea of breaking schedule norms.
5. Creative Motivation of Remote Employees
Helping remote employees feel like part of the team and upbeat despite possibly working in total solitude meant employers had to show appreciation differently. While an on-site worker might have their promotion celebrated with a cake in the break room, remote employees might receive something in the mail and relish in their achievement alone. Showing gratitude now requires more creativity due to so many people working from home.
One company had a virtual wine and cheese tasting where participants had supplies sent to their homes. Another tried a summer-picnic-in-a-box concept after canceling its annual in-person event due to COVID-19. All employees received mailed goodies, including a blanket, water bottle, snacks and sunscreen. This trend could have long-lasting effects, especially as managers realize they can give appreciation in more ways than they previously thought.
Global Work Trends: Post COVID-19 Will Be Different
Our ongoing global health threat has forced us all to become more agile; more open to doing things differently while abiding by new norms to stay safe. And these five global work trends show how the novel coronavirus may have forever reshaped how companies hire employees. They also demonstrate how we’ll need to create appealing work arrangements for those we hire.
Perhaps there is, however, and upside. After all, moving forward it is highly likely people worldwide will enjoy improved, less restrictive workplace opportunities. If so, those outcomes would arguably be some of the few positives associated with the pandemic.