The modern workplace is constantly evolving, and unforeseen circumstances can perpetuate change faster.
For example, many organizations were already using messaging and video apps like Slack and Zoom before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that most businesses are working remotely, the adoption of these virtual communication tools is growing exponentially.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, companies were embracing flexible work schedules with remote opportunities as part of a larger employee-centric movement. Businesses were prioritizing employee satisfaction and company culture to mitigate turnover and increase productivity.
While there’s no way to predict what will happen in the coming months, here’s a closer look at 5 trends taking off in the workplace and how they’ll impact businesses in 2020.
More Companies Will Offer Flexible Work Schedules
No employee is the same—we all have personal priorities and preferences. Maybe you’re an early bird who enjoys working before the sun rises, or maybe you focus best in the evening after you put the kids to bed.
Employees have their own schedules, and it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to conform their lives to the traditional, outdated 9-to-5 mentality. In fact, many studies have concluded that the average person is only productive for three hours of an eight-hour workday.
The desire for flexibility has reached management’s ears, with many companies offering flexible work schedules to their team members. While businesses might not be ready to embrace the drastic four-hour workweek movement, they are offering flex-schedules.
With flexible schedules, employees can dictate their workdays around their lives or preferences, as long as they meet their hourly or quota requirements. This approach could include working four 10-hour days and taking Friday off, working from home on Monday and Friday, or any other combination of hours and days.
If you decide to offer flex-schedules within your company, consider setting up an infrastructure for your team members. Ask employees to stick to the schedule of their choice—that way, employees can coordinate their communications accordingly.
Companies Will Invest in Employee Well-Being
In recent years, businesses were moving into dangerous territories as technology made it possible for companies to push the boundaries between work and personal.
Side-hustling, digital entrepreneurship, and the “startup lifestyle” were glorifying employee burnout. Employees were encouraged to check and respond to work emails while off the clock. Managers expected staff to work late into the night, even at home, to complete deadlines.
While there is still pressure in the workplace, more employers are focusing on employee well-being. This shift includes emphasizing work-life balance and considering the environment that teams work in.
This focus on well-being follows the simple belief that happy, healthy employees are more productive. You make fewer mistakes if you aren’t exhausted. You are willing to take on more if you don’t feel overworked.
Consider the work-life balance and overall well-being of your team to improve their productivity and increase their loyalty to your organization.
Human Resource Managers Will Focus on Hiring Equity
Human resource teams are working to eliminate bias in hiring—particularly when it comes to unconscious bias. Names, universities, graduation years, and experience can all contribute to bias, even on a subtle level.
This bias means that resumes get ignored, and certain candidates have a harder time landing interviews. To make the workplace more diverse, companies are moving toward blind hiring.
This process includes looking at the experience without the name or sending out skills tests to find the most qualified candidates. While it can’t remove all prejudice, it’s a positive step toward creating a more equal hiring environment.
Consider updating your hiring process to eliminate bias and increase your qualified candidate pool.
Companies Will Train and Promote Internal Talent
Upskilling will be a significant trend in 2020 as companies work to identify valuable workers and improve their knowledge of the industry. Upskilling involves training and mentoring.
In short, it is investing in team members. By upskilling your workforce, you can improve employee loyalty. Your team members are less likely to quit if you invest in their potential and if they see growth opportunities within your organization.
Upskilling also allows you to mitigate knowledge gaps within and across departments. This additional training will make your company more resilient and flexible—allowing it to adapt and survive when it faces challenges like we are currently.
Automation Will Increase Efficiencies
Automation is nothing new for businesses, and it’s a trend that will continue well beyond 2020. Most businesses are aware of the value of automation—with many seeking automated solutions to mundane and repetitive tasks.
Instead of downloading and uploading reports, businesses are using APIs to connect datasets. Rather than hiring dedicated customer service representatives, companies are automating their help desks with FAQs and chatbots.
As you might imagine, automation can make your business more efficient, but it can also leave your employees feeling obsolete. A recent study from Forrester suggests that more than 1 million knowledge-work jobs will be replaced by robotics, machine learning, or other automated technologies this year.
While certain jobs might be lost because of new technology, it will create new, strategic-level positions. Automation shouldn’t be viewed negatively by employees—it should be a tool that helps mitigate their time spent on redundant tasks so they can focus their energy on more complex problems.
Keep Your Business Moving Forward This Year
Progressive organizations will monitor business trends and make strategic decisions to increase productivity and success. Within our current economic landscape, it’s never been more important to have a pulse on the global workforce.
As you can see above, several business trends currently affect how organizations operate. While no one can predict the future, you can take heed of these insights and modify your organization as needed to keep your employees happy, your company culture positive, and your business moving forward.
Derek Miller is a writer specializing in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing. His work has featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp. He’s currently the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, and a marketing consultant for small businesses.