In 2021 and beyond, agility will be a “ table issue ”
Gautam Sukumar is SVP of Product Management at ADP. Opinions are those of the author.
In 2020, employers around the world have embraced a rapid influx of innovative technologies to adapt to the challenges of a new remote working environment. Most remarkably, this transformation happened almost overnight. The implications for the 2021 workforce will be long-lasting; the ability to be agile will become a table issue for employers as they progress and grow in a changing business landscape.
The global health event had a significant impact on the dynamics of work and business operations. Many businesses have had to shut down for security reasons or significantly limit customer capacity, which has prompted them to rethink the way work is done. The ongoing challenges of 2020 – of the global health event and beyond – will indefinitely shape the future of the workplace. For example, we continue to observe the trend of personalization in the experience of employees and employers and this trend continues to evolve until 2021.
Despite the 2020 trials, workers are ready to look on the bright side. A recent ADP research institute study found that worker confidence fell less than expected: 84% of workers said they were still optimistic about the next five years in the workplace (although this was a drop by compared to 86% before COVID). Seventy-five percent say they are optimistic about the coming year.
For many businesses, agility is the key to stability. By surveying small and medium-sized businesses and corporate organizations at the start of the pandemic, ADP found that half of small and 84% of large companies were adjusting their business model. The most significant change has been observed in the way they deliver products or services to the market.
As a universal example, think of the number of restaurants – from local pubs to gastronomic establishments – switched to curbside delivery and pick-up models. Not only did the Switch help them stay afloat, but it also allowed those locked out to support local businesses while enjoying some of their favorite foods. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how many companies maintain their new services and how many revert to their original business models when circumstances allow.
Organizations that transform their workforce operations to gain agility are better positioned for the future. Small businesses in particular have been agile in their response to the global health event, as evidenced by recent rehiring gains.
The workers themselves are taking agility to the next level, with new business trainings rising significantly year on year. It’s one of the counterintuitive results of tough financial times: a boom in new business creation. Today, many well-known organizations have sprung up during this time. And statistics show that the same phenomenon is happening now: according to US Census Bureau data, business applications grew by nearly 43.3% in the first week of December, compared to 3.2% for the same week in 2019.
To drive true transformation in the face of change, companies will focus on their people and access to technology. By leveraging adaptable human capital management platforms and analysis solutions that can spot gaps, businesses can adapt as quickly as their needs change under dynamic conditions.
Moments of challenge will always be part of a company’s journey. But if employers and employees can meet these challenges with agility, they can shape the future of the workplace and design an environment in which everyone can work with confidence and reach their full potential.