REMOTE WORK – TIGHTEN YOUR BELTS FOR 2021

The year 2020 has taught the world how to work remotely. As we transcend New Year’s Eve and enter 2021, remote work from home jobs escalate to the level of new normal – wiping off any attached stigma, label, or prejudice.

Remote work has generally been associated with desperation, destitution, pin money, and lack of skills. Largely the realm of homemakers, who want to make a buck in their spare time, the concept of WFH has undergone a radical change in 2020 because of the pandemic. It has also escalated to a new social level – the new normal – wiping off any stigma or label. A Stanford survey shows that on an average, employees work from home about two or three times a week. How will this change the job landscape in 2021? Here’s a peek –

What changed in 2020

What has changed during 2020? Well here are some interesting stats from the employment landscape based on surveys from NWLC, PwC, Statista, and others.

  • As working women took on more responsibilities during the lockdown, the number of women exiting the workforce was four times that of men says NWLC.
  • Diversity is being prioritized by 76%  employer organizations says a PwC survey.
  • Pay hikes were delayed by 33% employers and 20% employers froze recruitment.
  • 33% companies laid off their employees
  • The youth unemployment rate in India was 23.75% as of October 2020 according to Statista
  • Employee burnout is estimated at 75% out of which 40% is a direct result of the pandemic reports TechRepublic

What the Pandemic Taught Us

It is amazing to see how well the work from home (WFH) culture has worked and I hope will continue even after the pandemic is over.” says Bill Gates. Yet, at least in India, the pandemic left many industries, organizations, and their employees scrambling – mostly because many Indians still do not possess a personal computer or even the basic skills to operate one – and if they do there’s just one for the whole family. During lockdown, as mom, dad, and children all needed to go online, there was a mini chaos in every home – well almost. The price and sale of laptops and desktops escalated. Having secured a computer, the next hurdle to cross was learning to work online. Until the end of 2019, India largely followed an in-office work culture. Even outsourcing was rare. Outsourcing, contractors and vendors were looked down upon if not stigmatized. The pandemic changed all that. As companies began laying off senior employees and encouraging the tech savvy youth to take on more responsibility, the value of WFH vendors hit home. Employers began appreciating the cost effectiveness of outsourcing and/or allowing employees to work from home.

From the employees’ perspective, productivity increased at the cost of higher stress, transcending work hours, and the vanishing line between work and life. Women – who continue to bear a large portion of the household responsibilities – worked from the kitchen platforms and burnt the midnight oil with their laptops while dads learnt to sit through class with their toddlers while talking to their boss about the latest sales figures. As people adapted, gradually they began appreciating the pros and cons of the WFH culture. Both genders appreciated the efforts of the other. The younger generation taught their elders the use of technology even as they struggled to follow their curriculum and pitch in with the family income.

Read more about Remote HR

What’s Changing?

These – above – were just the changes that 2020 brought. What will change in the future? Here’s our take –

Digitization

Let’s not forget that even before the pandemic there was a tidal revolutionary wave that was approaching fast and forcefully – the wave of digitization and technology. With the pandemic, this took on even more speed and force. Artificial Intelligence has arrived in the form of bots, Alexa, and Siri. Industry 4.0 and IoT are a reality. This changing tech scenario is likely to hit the job market as much as any other industry. With WFH becoming the new normal and digitization becoming a necessity, we visualize a hybrid work culture – hybrid employees if you will, –  which includes both WFH and in-office work –  perhaps both. Industries and organizations will adopt this differently ranging from a completely work from home business model to managing a dual HR – WFH and in-house.

Positive Disruption

As machines assume more and more workload, there will be a change of roles. New and emerging job profiles, roles, and occupations are slated to increase from 16 to 27% while 21% jobs are likely to end up on the tech-obsolescence heap. Some of the emerging roles include application developers, data analysts, social media specialists, ecommerce specialists, digital supply chain managers, digital XXX managers, and innovation managers to name a few. Many of these opportunities are already opening up but there is a general lack of awareness. Almost every existing role is likely to be touched by digitization. As globalization increases and small businesses go global, the demand for cross cultural trainers, interpreters, translators and the like will increase. Business modelling, people and culture experts, innovation managers, project managers, and other facilitators will also be in great demand. The demand for big data analytics is also likely to escalate as more and more data is generated by online.

  1. Emerging jobs by 2022 include –
  2. Data Analysts
  3. AI & ML specialists
  4. Machine Learning Trainers
  5. General Operational Managers
  6. Application and Software Developers
  7. Systems Analysts
  8. Sales and Marketing Professionals
  9. Big Data Specialists
  10. Digital Transformation Experts
  11. Emerging Technology Experts
  12. Allied IT Service Experts

Division of Labour

With the advent of IoT enabled equipment and industry 4.0, it is anticipated that more and more of the workload will be taken over by machines. Currently the ratio of humans to machines in handling workload is 71:29. This ratio is likely to shift to 58:42 by 2022. As machine learning improves and bots become more intelligent, machines will take over more and more of the tasks including purely human tasks like decision-making, communication (through bots), coordination, problem solving, and a slew of administrative tasks. In short, automation is slated to increase to over 52% by 2025. This will demand more and more machine management (digitization) skills on the part of humans. The role of humans in the supply chain will be that of feeding data, monitoring and tweaking the process, and passing judgement on the result.

Emerging Skills

With AI and ML on the scene, humans will take an even more powerful role. Some of the emerging skills in demand include analytical skills, active (spot) learning, technology design, creativity, critical thinking, and negotiation. Also in demand will be problem solving, resilience, attention to detail, flexibility, high emotional IQ, and social influence. The 2020 pandemic taught us not to rely on a single source of income. Multiple income sources will be the future trend and transferrable skills will be high in demand.

Read more about Transferrable Skills

On the other hand, jobs requiring dexterity, manual effort, reading and listening, and precision are likely to decline.

Learners for Life

What matters more? Talent or Qualification?

Training is not a new concept. As the idea evolved, organizations began retraining and skill-upgradation. This – upskilling – is likely to escalate as new technology evolves. As emerging technology creates skill gaps, experts envision a need for 101 days of upskilling by the year 2022 among both leaders as well as team members. Training costs are also likely to rise. Dependence on external experts, temporary staff, contractors, and remote employees will escalate as specialization disintegrates and organizations find it more and more difficult to fill skill-gap voids. These changes may trigger a relook at HRM (Human Research Management), remote workforce management, and of course recruitment. The debate between talents vs. qualification appears to be leaning on the side of talent – irrespective of the nature of employment – permanent, temporary, remote, or hybrid.

Read More about Talent Vs. Qualification

Hashtag #newnormal has been extensively used and shared during 2020. The pandemic is not the only culprit. As the world resumes work, it meets with advancing technology and the digital wave encountering new challenges and discovering new ways to deal with them.

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