Community conversations: HR trends and Covid-19: Which trends are strengthened, weakened or changed? – Part I

This week, we have rounded up some of the most pertinent questions we have received from you: our clients, partners and community. In this article, AKKA Architect’s CEO, Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes answers some of your most pertinent questions!

If you have a question you would like answered, ask it here.

Question: Early 2020, you – at AKKA Architects – published a report highlighting the imminent trends that were to affect Human Resources and the world of work in 2020 and beyond. With the Covid-19 pandemic, how have these trends changed?

Early 2020, we indeed issued a report entitled “HUMAN RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond”. In it, we highlighted the 6 imminent trends that we saw affecting the world of work and Human Resources (HR) for the year, with an eye on the following few years too. The six trends are: Technology, Generational Changes, Appreciation of Complexity, Inclusive Leadership and Professional Development, Employee Branding and Global Recruitment and Establishing Work-Life Balance as the Norm. So let’s start by looking at the first two.

Technology has become one of the most impactful trends that have over the years revolutionised how HR operates, in all businesses.

Trend #1: Technology

“Technology has become one of the most impactful trends that have over the years revolutionised how HR operates, in all businesses. Technology has changed the way that businesses offer services, how they communicate and how employees are recruited. Additionally, the progress of technology has transformed the workplace in that lesser and lesser space is required to store data as well as for employees to work. Technology, in its different forms and shapes, has affected nearly every aspect of the business, from the way that business leaders make decisions, to the way that every single employee works.”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.  

During Covid-19, we saw an exodus from our offices to our homes. Health workers and essential professions aside, almost every other working professional shifted to working from home. With this, day-to-day work technology got its big break. Conferencing platforms were never as used and as accepted than in the last few months. What we thought was impossible turned out to be workable and we all got used to online meetings, digital brainstorms and virtual gatherings. We have all developed love or hate relationship with numerous software and platforms. Nevertheless, for better or for worse, technology has come through for us and rescued a huge proportion of our working dynamics when we didn’t have much of a choice.

When we think of technology now, however, working from home and virtual meeting software are not the only thing worth mentioning. As we go back to the office, a myriad of different technologies, such as cameras measuring temperatures at office building entrances, is there to greet us and keep us healthy, at least physically healthy.

Moving forward, technology has a large opportunity to support our ways of working even more so now, that we have accepted it more widely across the world and more frequently within our own workdays and work weeks. With that opportunity, comes a risk too. Technology for the sake of technology, or technology as the expense of our mental and emotional wellbeing should be avoided. For more about mental well-being, check out this article: “Returning to a Resilient Workplace”.

Different generation groups of employees have different needs and expectations in terms of job performance, well-being and satisfaction.

Trend #2: Generational Changes

“Since the 1950s, different generations have inhabited the workplace. These groups of employees had different needs and expectations in terms of job performance, well-being and satisfaction. These different needs have influenced HR management in businesses over time”

RESOURCES TRENDS 2020 & BEYOND: The top 6 imminent trends of 2020 & beyond, AKKA Architects, 2020.

While the generations that are populating workplaces around the world haven’t changed in themselves, their attitudes and mentality have definitely shifted.

The most obvious shift we will see will be in relation to the pandemic itself. I believe different generations might see the safety of returning to work differently and therefore have varying expectations as to what measures the management, as well as fellow employees, should take and respect to keep everyone safe. On one hand, I believe cultural differences will largely affect how strict or relaxed different people will consider the need for distancing measures and how serious or dismissive they might be when adhering to them. On the other hand, generational differences will also largely influence our mentality, attitudes and therefore behaviour. And when generations are not aligned, this could create tremendous friction between colleagues on the work floor. 

The second shift of mentality we might observe is a heightened need for meaning at work. With the pandemic highlighting how essential some jobs are and how people can help each other through difficult times, I foresee more questioning relating to the meaning and value of our work. With it will come an increased longing to do something meaningful that genuinely helps other people. This increased desire for meaning work is something we have discussed before here, here and also here.

The third shift to highlight when it comes to generational changes is the even more acute demand for more freedom. Now that the pandemic has shown us that even the extreme situation of the entire world – almost – working from outside the office for months, does work, to a certain extent, our choices have been expanded. This unplanned global experiment in working from home that we have witnessed has definitely expanded the spectrum of possibilities for our ways of working. It seems that we have stretched the spectrum of choices we have and with that, different generations will rebound from that differently. While some may cherish working from the office even more now, some may take this as an opportunity to gain more freedom in the working from anywhere department. This will, without a doubt, change the role and responsibilities of Workplace Professionals. Are you an HR manager, Facility Manager, or any other form of Workplace Professional? you might be interested in reading here about the new role you can adopt in supporting your workforce and helping your entire organisation recover.

Technology and Generational Changes are the first two of six imminent trends that are set to shape HR this year and for the next few years. In the next article, we will dive into the next trends to explore how they might have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out what are the latest trends now and beyond 2020, download here Human Resources Trends report, which contains the top 6 imminent trends of 2020 and beyond.

Explore the latest trends and how they impact HR.

Do you have a question about your workplace? Request your FREE PERSONAL ADVICE now, by asking our very own CEO your most burning question. Fill in the form below with your question and Stephanie will get back to you with her thoughts.
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