Workplace Predictions After A Year Nobody Could Have Predicted

Here’s how to stay ahead: some workplace trends that have been forecast for the year 2021.

At the end of 2019, nobody could have foreseen that the coming year would see the CBD empty, “You’re on mute” becoming the catchphrase of the moment, and DIY bubble tea kits going out of stock. While we don’t have a crystal ball to peer into the future, hindsight does teach us a few things. As we delve into 2021, here are some upcoming trends in the workplace, learnt from the lessons of an unanticipated 2020. 

1. Mind Your Mind

We’re used to getting an MC for a physical illness, but have yet to normalise taking days off for emotional or mental well-being, sometimes out of fear of seeming irresponsible, unreliable, or simply flaky. However, with 2020 being as stressful as it was, mental health should be on the radar for both employees and employers. Companies like Adobe provide employees with support for their emotional wellbeing, and while not all businesses can afford to do so, you can ensure that you take care of yourself too: apps like Calm and Headspace guide you towards mindfulness, while virtual therapy sessions are also available for those who need a little more support. And with the days of leave we have for the year, but with nowhere to go, there has never been a better time to take a day off every once in a while to just relax, reset, and do something that you truly enjoy doing.

2. Walk The Talk and Stroll The Scroll

Spending so much time at home and online in 2020 led us all to be a bit more informed about and involved in social, cultural, political, and environmental issues. Whether it was campaigning for migrant workers’ rights or pledging to make a change in our consumption habits, we found something to fight for, and this year will see us asking the same of our employers and each other. With a greater awareness of the issues that plague us, and a whole host of resources available online for us to educate ourselves, companies are expected to be sensitive and sensible, and express their values through their actions. One well-known example: popular ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, which has taken a stand on progressive issues such as racial justice and the environment. Employees and business partners who identify with Ben & Jerry’s stand feel a stronger bond with the company, and this has led to greater customer loyalty as well. Whether you’re on the board of directors or a new employee, it’s always good to initiate a conversation about what your team believes in, and decide for yourselves what you can do to make a difference where and when it matters.

3. Curiosity Keeps The Cat Employed

Major retrenchment exercises and the sharp decline in some industries at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic reminded us of the importance of retraining and upskilling to ensure our employability and survival. With the shift towards a more digitalised workforce, it’s no surprise that jobs related to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, among others, are growing in demand. While professional training might be crucial for those looking to switch careers, we’re also reminded of the importance of staying teachable, resilient, and open to new experiences. Why not invest in some personal development? Masterclass puts together a series of entertaining, bingeable videos from industry experts across the world, while Coursera partners with universities to offer a range of classes from general interest (“De-Mystifying Mindfulness”) to the specific (“Big Data Integration and Processing”). Of course, there’s also SkillsFuture, which is surprisingly diverse: courses range from urban farming to digital marketing.

4. Rework Working Remotely

Remote working was never really seen as a feasible option until it became the only option for many of us. Whether you loved it or hated it, working remotely seems set to become more common. A survey by The Straits Times showed that eight out of 10 prefer to work from home or have flexible working arrangements, with concerns about safety and a dislike for the work commute being the top reasons for preferring to work from home. Perhaps it’s time to invest in an ergonomic chair, noise-cancelling earphones, and a secondary computer monitor to make your home office a little more conducive—but don’t expect to never step into the office or meet your colleagues again. While the extent of working remotely is dependent on each company’s business and structure, what’s clear is that a good balance, rather than an either/or case, is your best bet. Even outside of work settings, in-person interactions are crucial to boost team morale, and foster better communication, innovation, creativity, and performance. 

5. Future-Ready And Life-Proof

The pandemic has shown that physical offices are immune to disruption, and the form and function of the office has to continuously evolve. What makes for great workplaces are more than basic infrastructure and connectivity, but the soft touches and spaces that encourage social interactions as well as a sustainable and healthy built environment. Good ventilation, public health and green building design features are crucial to buildings’ health and well-being, and the upcoming CapitaSpring will lead the way and change how we work, live and play. CapitaSpring places an emphasis on placemaking initiatives and community events, and they will be held in an expansive 4-storey botanical promenade called the Green Oasis. An urban farm and fine-dining restaurant, alongside end-of-trip facilities, retail and F&B shops, and a serviced residence, complete this future-ready vertical community—a new benchmark for workplaces to come. 

As we go forth into this year, what’s most important is staying agile, adaptable, and going with the flow. It’s what kept us going through a tumultuous 2020, and will be what keeps us going, no matter what comes our way. 

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