2021 trends

2020 was a historic year. The pandemic caused a lot of unexpected change, and some of that may be here to stay. Let’s look at what changes employees can expect in their 2021 workplace.

Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain recently shared his five predictions on what the future holds at work. First, office life will return, but will never be the same. Second, employees will expect progress, not pledges, on corporate diversity, equality and inclusion. Salary expectations will get a permanent work-from-home overhaul. Company cultures must adapt to post-COVID-19 realities. And although the COVID-19 recession is likely over, those jobs lost during the pandemic may never return. 

More than 40% of U.S. workers have been working from home full-time since June 2020. This dramatic shift has caused significant changes in the way we work. Chamberlain believes that although companies have been forced to rethink work from home policies, employees will ultimately return to work once it’s safe. 

Remote work allows companies to hire from anywhere, but it has downsides. Chamberlain cites poor employee communication, lack of motivation and performance, lower creativity and lack of spontaneity as the drawbacks. Casual bonds created through in-person interactions are critical for building a culture of innovation and creativity. According to Glassdoor’s workforce’s internal survey, most workers prefer a hybrid work arrangement, splitting time between home and office. 

The Black Lives Matter movement also cast a needed light on racial inequality that will impact our workplace in the future. Companies are being pushed to make real progress on diversity and inclusion efforts. The public also expects more transparency on these efforts going forward. A recent Glassdoor survey found that more than three in four employees and job seekers say workplace diversity is an important factor when evaluating companies or job offers. 

Chamberlain also predicts a shift in salary expectations. He believes tech workers moving from expensive metros such as San Francisco or New York should expect pay reductions from five to 30 percent, depending on where they move. If a worker has a unique skillset, a company will be forced to pay the fair market rate for that skillset, regardless of where they live. On the flip side, if the location is no issue, job seekers will likely face more competition as they apply for jobs. 

Ultimately, the unexpected nature of 2020 has forever changed our workplace, for good and for bad. Here’s to a better 2021!

– Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.