Key Workforce Trends to Enable Businesses to be More Productive and Attract the Best Talent in 2021

Every trope and cliché about the effect of coronavirus on the workforce has been exhausted over the last nine months or so. Unfortunately, while those cliches are exhausted, the virus isn’t as we enter a 2nd year of instability and another lockdown. While it might appear, the end is in sight with the vaccine we have been through so many false dawns that it would be unwise to think everything will be back to normal in March. Even if we were to manage to inoculate the whole population, the profound disruption to how employees have had to work, for such a long period of time, means employee expectations have changed fundamentally and, if employers want to be more productive – as well as attract, and retain, the best talent, they have to adapt accordingly.

Remote or Hybrid Working

Home or remote working was already a growing trend before Covid19 but has since become an essential part of working life for so many. For those companies who, at the end of lockdowns, have brought their employees back to the office at the first opportunity or plan to do so once it is safe, there are numerous reasons why you should think again and allow some form of remote or hybrid working.


These are tough economic times: your business has suffered, and government borrowing is at record levels, meaning everyone’s finances will be squeezed for at least this year and ongoing into 2022. Allowing your employees to work from home can enable you to downsize your office and reduce rent costs, freeing capital for investment and perhaps making the difference between survival or not.

Productivity and Public Health

This is of course particularly relevant for now as the pandemic still rages but is also still valid for a post COVID world. Employees coming into the office run the risk of getting sick, especially if they are taking public transport, and are more tired from their commutes. The result is that they at the very least they take more sick days, and in the present situation, may, with numerous other members of your staff have to isolate, causing severe disruption to the efficiency of your business and its ability to service your customers.

Getting the Right Staff

You may prefer to have your employees in the office, but you should remember that many employees will have spent more than a year working from home. While some will be happy to go back to the office, a large number are already used to working from home, feel they are productive - can prove it from their KPIs – and are unwilling to come back. Savvy companies will understand that; they will know that by offering remote working they will enable themselves to can pick talent from all across the country – and, if you do not understand your employee needs, may well poach them.

Cloud and Digital Transformation

To make a success of remote or hybrid working we need to make sure we have the technology in place to ensure employees can most effectively carry out their job whether in the office or at home. The best way to do that is to move your business software solutions to the cloud.

Cloud or Hosted Software

During any period, the cloud offers greater scalability and flexibility compared to on-premises software - So much so that in the case of telephony, BT has already announced that it will switch off the traditional ISDN network in 2026 in favour of SIP hosted telephony. However, to enable homeworking a hosted solution is an absolute necessity, offering the ability to easily configure and seamlessly allow your employees to pick up calls to their office extension and login to software packages from anywhere, on any device, as long as they have an Internet connection.

Why Move to The Cloud Now?

If you have managed so far with a hybrid solution of a cloud add-on to your on-premises solution, it is time to move fully to the cloud - Even if your preference is to have everyone back in the office this period has proven the importance of being ready for emergencies. If you want your employees to be more productive, it is better to have just one solution with a familiar interface, reporting and login no matter where they are working. Only the cloud can offer this.

Digital Transformation

Enabling remote working means much more than just hosted telephony but giving your employees the tools to perform all aspects of their job remotely. Not just your CRM, but conducting meetings, scheduling, collaborating, and communicating internally and externally. Depending upon the importance and size of your contact centre, you may require a cloud based omnichannel contact centre solution, but at the very least you will require a hosted collaboration solution. Everyone has now heard of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but making video calls is just one aspect of collaboration, as a business, your employees are also working together on product specifications, designs and project timetables.

Well-being and Mental Health

While many workers enjoyed certain aspects of homeworking, the remote nature of the job, unprecedented economic stability, having to suddenly handle different roles, the loneliness from lockdowns, health concerns for themselves and/or vulnerable and elderly relatives, and the pressures of having to juggle childcare and supervise online learning for children, have led to increasing feedback from employees concerning their mental health.

Traditionally companies have limited their scope to improving workforce motivation through incentive and reward programs, better training, and group or social activities, leaving mental health issues as a private issue for the employee outside of work – but now there has been an increasing recognition that this is not enough, and employers need to offer well-being support.

In recognition of this need, there has been a huge increase in well-being solution providers – Calm, Headspace, Classpass, Fitbit, Woebot, Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Virgin Pulse, among others – for which many companies have bought memberships for their employees. These apps are designed to help workers by offering everything from meditation, staying fit, maintaining a healthy diet, to 24/7 access to therapy and resources.

Taking It Further to Redesign Work

In 2021, employers should look at remote working and well-being as more than just bolt-ons to appease their employees but redesign the work process with them in mind. The 2021 Deloitte Human Resources Survey reports that 7 in 10 executives surveyed said that remote working had a positive influence on well-being and that they recognized the redesign of work to suit that new priority was more important than things like bonus schemes. However, Deloitte also went on to suggest that those executives were focusing firstly on things like introducing digital collaboration platforms, allowing more freedom around how work and meetings were scheduled, and leadership and training investment. Well-being was near the bottom of the list of priorities for executives but at the top for employees; therefore, if firms are to grasp opportunities to retain and recruit the best talent, they needed to put a greater emphasis on well-being; they need to go beyond just offering well-being as something the employees could do in their spare time, but integrate it into the design of work.

Employee Led Training

During COVID, suddenly all the rules around getting workers to specialize in specific roles were thrown out the window, and in most cases, those employees responded admirably to new roles and tasks. Based on this, employers should be more open to listening to employees’ ideas on training and the kind of tasks they want to perform. They should arrange employees in teams that are much more flexible in terms of roles rather than being imposed by management.

More Strident Social Conscience

2020 was a year in which brought a huge real, public health challenge to the entire world, in doing so concentrating the mind around the fact that we live in a global community. It was also a year of high emotions and an outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, among others. The result is that employees now expect their company to be much more than just cool, or pay large bonuses, they expect it to have a social conscience and be vocal and active in support of it.

About Hostcomm

Hostcomm provides hosted contact centre and business collaboration solutions in the UK. It combines software from award-winning providers with our value-added applications, in-house expertise, customer service excellence and customisation and integration. In doing so, customers can get packages of features, service, support, reliability and pricing unmatched in the industry.

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