As Plato once famously stated, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Well, never has that been more true than when it comes to workplaces in 2021.

This past year has been unlike any other in how we think about and approach our work. And while things will eventually return to a ‘new normal’, our advice to our clients is not to miss out on the lessons COVID has taught us all about creating great workplaces.

Whether it be re-thinking work-life balance, how we talk about mental health at work and how we foster truly engaged (and productive!) teams, don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate the new ideas that can come when you’re forced to do everything differently.

Here are some creative workplace trends for 2021 that can help you leverage the lessons of the past year to build a great workplace tomorrow:

  • Workin’ 9-5? Maybe not anymore. While the pandemic didn’t solely do away with the classic 9-5 schedule, it certainly helped. As working parents struggled to manage kids out of school, workplaces needed to become a lot more flexible. However, that kind of flexibility can be excellent for employees for all sorts of reasons. People think and work at their best differently. For some, their biggest ideas might come late at night. For others, they may be most productive very early in the morning. As long as trust and accountability is there, thinking outside the ‘9-5 box’ means your employees can design their most ideal schedule, allowing you to leverage the benefits of a more engaged and productive team.
  • Mental Health is not a luxury. Workplaces are increasingly aware that holistic approaches to workplace health are necessary for today’s work environment. The old ‘grin and bear it’ approach won’t cut it anymore. Just as the pandemic has caused us to re-think a culture of ‘never calling in sick’, mental health and well-being are equally as important as physical health. Normalize talking about mental health at work. Provide staff with options for accessing mental health support. Invest in your employee resources groups and leverage opportunities for remote work options that make your team feel supported.
  • The ‘destination’ workplace. Early data indicates that up to 80% of newly remote workers would like to continue working from their home office for at least half their weekly hours once the pandemic is over. This leaves 20% who still prefer the office space for the majority of their working hours. That means it might be time for companies to re-imagine the office itself. Organizations should be thinking about how the workspace can better accommodate hybrid schedules and maximize time that is spent in the office by creating spaces where teams can get creative and collaborate.
  • An attitude of gratitude. The pandemic has been an opportunity for all of us to evaluate our priorities. With companies moving to remote work environments, keeping team members connected has been top of mind for HR managers. However, the fundamentals haven’t changed. Showing your staff gratitude regularly – whether that be something as simple as a hand-written note of thanks to some fun options like sending at-home care packages, a culture of gratitude will build a strong foundation for your team.
  • Invest in ‘soft skills’. Companies that invest in professional development for staff attract and retain talent. As technology continues to shape how we work in profound ways, so-called ‘soft skills’ like communication and leadership style, will become even more crucial. Developing your team’s soft skills is key to creating opportunities for personal growth and advancement, improving your employee’s abilities and keeping them around and engaged.
  • Culture matters. This isn’t new, but it’s worth saying again – your company culture will have a huge impact on the talent you’re attracting and your staff’s overall productivity and engagement level. 2020 has been an opportunity for organizations to re-think everything, from how they leverage flexible work options to how they keep teams engaged. If your company is not open to adapting your culture to meet the evolving needs of the workforce, you are unlikely to remain competitive as a desirable employer. Although we are all looking forward to returning to ‘business as usual’, don’t wait to take the lessons offered by the pandemic to look at how you are creating a truly great workplace.

Striking the right balance in the ‘new workplace’ will be tricky, but the experts at Cenera can work with your team to establish policies and tools that will help you make the most of the lessons of the past year and leverage your creativity to design a great workplace.

Reach out to us today if you need help with your HR and recruitment practices

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