After a tumultuous year that we would all rather forget what are we going to see happen in 2021 with regard to working from home? It’s time for me to look into my crystal ball for trends in the home office in the coming twelve months and predict where we will be!
If you’re reading this at the end of 2021 please don’t mock, as I sit here on 1st January 2021 I recall what I was doing in 2020 and no-one could have predicted how THAT turned out so……..! So what do I think will be the biggest 2021 trends in the home office?
We Don’t Want to Go Back……….!
OK, this one might be quite easy. Firstly I think that vaccines will be rolled out over the coming year, probably slower than some people would anticipate, so that home working will remain the default until at least the spring.
The main point however will be that a huge percentage of people will not want to go back to the 9-5 commute five days a week. As has been discovered from countless surveys the majority do not want to return to the previous “normal”. Whether it’s a hybrid of working from home and office or totally work from home this will become the Norm and won’t be looked down on. With many offices unable to guarantee physical separation it may come down to working alternate days at home with only 50% in the office at any one time. Many companies are already going to a hybrid structure with some other companies offering 100% work from home as an option.
As we continue to work from home, those who lead teams will better understand the needs of their people. Who requires additional support and who ticks over without any support whatsoever will be better understood and therefore support adjusted accordingly as people move from temporary WFH to a more permanent situation (I wrote an article about how to support different personality types during work from home which you can find HERE). This will result in an increase in productive time and in turn an increase in the number of people who prefer working from home. There will still be those who require more social interaction than lock down has allowed and for these people the hybrid model of working will be preferable.
The rise in working from home will see a reduction in commuting which will in turn see an improvement in the environment especially in large cities. However, the downside will be the continued decline in high street shopping in favour of online and local shops. I would expect to see a couple of large household name shops struggle as well as some shopping centres as footfall declines. Offices will also see a reduction in use and some companies will downsize or go completely virtual.
Remote socialising will continue and evolve to offer other ways of interacting with friends and colleagues. It is easy to keep up with friends regularly given the increase of smartphones, assistants such as Alexa and Siri, and the uptake in Zoom and Teams.
This is a Local Shop…….
As I’ve already said, I can see the continuation of the use of delivery companies such as Amazon as well as food deliveries as people continue to work from home. The ability to have deliveries at any time of the day will be preferable to spending more social time in shops. In addition, people will utilise local shops for “topping up” their regular food deliveries.
As people have been forced to utilise technology to keep in touch with they will become more comfortable with its use and therefore I can see more purchases being made online rather than in physical shops. The problem will be with ensuring that specialist shops have a big enough online presence to ensure their continued existence. Think about the huge supermarket chains and how they drove small shops to the wall (how many small towns have lost their butcher, baker and greengrocers?) and now replicate that online and you have one or two massive providers!
Having said that I think the last year has seen a surge in entrepreneurship with people utilising enforced lock down to learn new skills or brush up on previous skills to create their own ‘side hustle’. This has been increased by people’s insecurity in their current jobs as lock down continued and many previously “secure” jobs have seen large redundancies or months of furlough giving people free time and no where to go!
With the roll out of vaccines and the hope that we can return to ‘normal’ there will be a concerted effort to recover that lost “feeling” that we used to take for granted. The feeling that we could go anywhere we wanted at anytime has been lost. High on the agenda for a lot of people in 2021 will be a decent holiday but will the vaccine roll out be quick enough to save holiday season this year?
One option may be for people to extend ‘holiday’ periods and rather than go for a two-week holiday in a hotel, a ‘safer’ option may be to rent a villa or apartment for a longer period and work remotely for some of it. I can see there being a marked rise in the use of airBnB properties as well as people renting for longer periods. Who wouldn’t want to stay somewhere warm and sunny, especially to make up for 2020 and the acceptance of working remotely will facilitate this.
Look for a rise in the broadband speed of hotels and rental properties being included in the sales pitch as more and more people see that the two-week limit to holidays is no longer a barrier and holidays extend to a month or as long as possible.
As people extend their stays for as long as possible cheaper properties with high speed broadband will tend to sell out quicker and be full for longer as people snap them up to make their holiday budget last longer.
Well, there we have it, just a couple of ideas I have of what this year holds in store for people who work from home. Some of these are obvious and a roll over from 2020. I think the move away from the nine to five is inevitable and a number of companies such as Facebook and Twitter have already stated that the will offer 100% work from home as an option.
Whatever happens it will be an interesting year to see what develops, albeit with a certain amount of trepidation given the outcome of the last year. I can only hope it is better and more rewarding for us all.
What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the coming year is going to affect us all? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below or email me at email@example.com as I would love to hear from you.