- Remote work will "settle at 3x pre-pandemic levels" and lead to a "public policy overhaul" in the workplace, according to predictions in an Oct. 29 Forrester paper on expectations for employee experience in 2021. The study estimated that at least 21% of North America-based knowledge workers will primarily work from home and that more firms will adopt a hybrid model.
- The researchers said remote work and automation will offer employers a new advantage in recruiting top talent and retention. They expect a quarter of information workers in 2021 will be supported by software bots, robotic process automation or AI, "taking repetitive tasks off their plate" and improving employee experiences. This evolution also necessitates a better relationship between HR and internal partners in IT and finance, they said.
- The researchers also predicted changes to workplace policy and how employers respond to new employee expectations around remote work and flexibility. They pointed out some states are already starting to mandate changes, as California already requires employers to provide or reimburse employees for electronic equipment and internet access.
Remote work and hybrid work models continue to see increasing adoption from employers of all sizes. Companies such as Google, Royal Bank of Scotland and Zillow have announced that they will be remote well into 2021 or even longer, and a Mercer survey found that a majority of employers are considering a hybrid model, similar to what Indeed announced in October. It also appears workers are interested in more flexible arrangements, according to a recent Slack survey.
With respect to automation’s impact on workforce strategy, opinions remain mixed. However a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that the pandemic may have accelerated adoption of machine learning and automation technologies in the workplace.
The employee experience has seen unprecedented changes this year. The pandemic forced widespread adoption of remote work and virtual versions of meetings, conferences and even informal interactions that sustain the culture of a workplace. Employers have used schedule flexibility and enhanced benefits to meet the rising needs of employees during this time.