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The future of work: Hustle, serendipity, creativity, security and yes, entrepreneurship

As the fog clears in the transition to the new normal, here are some handpicked predictions sure to raise some eyebrows

We’re going to see less focus on input, more focus on output, more on deliverables, rather than mere presenteeism A new wave of collaboration tools will attempt to bring this element of serendipity into our working lives In 2021, businesses need to decide whether they’re enabling a remote-first or a remote-friendly culture

We’re living in the age of a ‘distributed anywhere’ workforce, with early signs from organizations globally that there could be permanency with it.

Some have lost their jobs, though, and others are on edge about losing theirs, and with their back against the wall, these could be entrepreneurs in the making.

As the fog clears in the transition to the new normal, here are some handpicked predictions sure to raise some eyebrows.  

VMware

Kristine Dahl Steidel, Vice President EUC EMEA, VMware spoke with Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, Director of the Future of Work Program, at Oxford University, about the biggest workforce trends to look out for in 2021. Below are mutual observations:

Prediction #1: Employee productivity measurement will shift from inputs to outputs

According to Frey, “There’ll be no more brownie points for just showing up to the office and putting in the hours. We’re going to see less focus on input, more focus on output, more on deliverables, rather than mere presenteeism.”

Gone are the days of looking out to a group of employees working late in the office to judge productivity and dedication.  

Are employees hitting their KPIs and being responsive to clients and co-workers? If the answer is yes, it doesn’t matter how they’re structuring their day.

Read: Best places to work in Saudi, UAE, and Egypt in 2020 revealed

Prediction #2: The battle for talent will continue to heat up

“Businesses are always in competition. Not just in the product market but also in the labor market. When location is less of a constraint, the talent pool grows and employers have the potential to recruit from anywhere with an internet connection,” added Frey.

When surveying EMEA business leaders, VMware found 82% stating that remote work has helped recruit candidates living outside of major economic hubs.  

In the global war for talent, being able to offer a truly digital-first employee experience will be stressed with equal, if not more, importance as more traditional factors like salary and benefits.  

Prediction #3: The distributed workforce will put serendipity in its crosshairs

“Innovation has always benefitted from proximity and random interactions. We’ll likely see a new wave of collaboration tools that will attempt to bring this element of serendipity into our working lives,” said Frey.

VMware’s research found that around three-quarters (76%) of employees reported feeling greater personal connections with colleagues as a result of remote working. It will be vital for business leaders to capitalize on this to recreate those ‘water cooler’ moments that spark new ideas and drive business innovation.

More future of work ideas from other experts 

The below are extracted from a post derived from recent interviews with top experts and executives. 

Prediction #4: Working from home will drive changes in security

“There will be significant demand on resources to establish identity and identity-based connections, and some network security companies will begin investing heavily in edge detection using networking layers to determine where those edges really exist.” Edward Giaquinto, CIO at Sectigo, said.

Prediction #5: Employers will increasingly invest in “experience”

“In 2021, employers will look at innovative ways to support the welfare, development, and ‘experience’ of their teams to account for shifting patterns of work and communication. In response, employees will be empowered to take much greater ownership of how they facilitate their work-life balance.” Lloyd Salmons, co-founder at PepTalk, said.

Read: 5 surprising predictions for the future office and UAE’s work from home trends

Prediction #6: Data natives will enter the workforce

“To be successful as a new-hire in the job market, graduates need not only analytical skills but also storytelling, project management, and aspects of ethics and compliance. Personalized learning paths will be the key to compete in the workplace that is coming.” Jürgen Kaselowsky, EMEA academics manager at SAS, said.

Prediction #7: Employees will want clarity around remote working

“If some employees choose to return to the office whilst others continue to work remotely, this will inevitably have implications on the efficiency of the business, productivity, and overall culture. Remote first means providing all employees with all the necessary tools and equipment to do their job from wherever they want to work. Remote working must infiltrate team culture, perks, and benefits. In 2021, businesses need to decide whether they’re enabling a remote-first or a remote-friendly culture.” Job van der Voort, CEO and co-founder at Remote.com, said.

Finally, according to an opinion piece in Forbes, the future of work will see a rise in entrepreneurship.

Prediction #8: An explosion of creativity and entrepreneurship

The pandemic has made people reevaluate many aspects of their lives. Some people have suffered the loss of loved ones, finances, and health. Yet obstacles lead to new solutions. It’s a core part of an entrepreneurial response, the drive to improve and make something of whatever life throws at someone.

Prediction #9: Measure what matters now 

We collectively need to rethink the metrics that suit our working lives and cater to the individual, rather than the corporation’s needs. People are remote and apart — and with changed behaviors come changed mindsets.

Consumers are living their lives differently. Workers are working differently. Brands will need to track new behaviors and start relationships in new ways. There is room for creativity and new ways of doing business. There will be a journey of learning and improvement as we all find our feet in a genuinely “new” year. Everyone must look hard at what they define as best practice and success when the cultural and economic context is so altered.