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December 29, 2020

Five trends reshaping how we work after COVID-19

What's going to happen to how we work next year? Here's a summary of the five most compelling workplace trends according to Andrew Chamberlain, Ph.D., Chief Economist, and Director of Research at Glassdoor.

Table of Contents

A new research report by Glassdoor provides insights on how workers and employers can best prepare for the world of work in the years ahead — to hedge against the risks they pose and harness the opportunities they create to build a better workplace of the future.

1. Office life will return but it will never be the same

Millions of Americans are working from home in 2020. But we expect most will return to in-person workplaces —at least part-time — in 2021 once COVID-19 is under control.

Remote workforces work best with at least some in-person office work. Fully remote teams have financial and recruiting benefits, but also suffer from lower spontaneity, more challenges forming bonds, and lower innovation.

Prepare for an new wave of experimentation and innovation around hybrid remote-in-office roles — part remote and part in-office — in 2021 and beyond.

2. Employees expect progress, not just pledges, on corporate DEI

The Black Lives Matter movement cast new light on racial inequality in 2020, and companies are being pushed to make tangible progress on diversity and inclusion like never before.

Hiring for diversity, equity, and inclusion roles has been on the rise for years, and that will likely accelerate sharply in 2021.

The public and employees alike will expect progress reports in 2021. Companies will need to invest in technology to help companies spotlight their diversity efforts, be more transparent about progress, and communicate where challenges remain in the years ahead.

3. Salary expectations get a permanent WFH rehaul

Millions of Americans are thinking about moving to new cities while working from home. If they do, brace for big salary adjustments in 2021 as workers face a shifting competitive landscape.

Tech workers decamping from expensive metros like San Francisco and New York could face eventual pay adjustments of -5% to -30% depending on where they move.

Workplace perks like free catered lunch and company parties are on hold during the pandemic. But they'll return in 2021 as teams scramble to rebuild social bonds and reignite a spirit of innovation once the pandemic is under control.

4. Even the best company cultures must adapt to new post-COVID-19 realities

Companies have lost an important way of controlling corporate identity and employer brand during COVID-19: The design, look, and feel of corporate headquarters.

Online employee reviews are playing an outsized role in employer brand during work-from-home. Companies who survive and thrive in 2021 will be those who embrace employee sentiment data as business intelligence.

Companies don't need lavish corporate campuses to build culture. Three factors matter most for worker satisfaction, none of which depend on maintaining in-person offices: Having a compelling company mission, promoting transparent and empathetic leaders, and building clear career opportunities for workers.

5. The COVID-19 recession is probably already over, but these jobs may never return

The global economy suffered a massive blow in 2020. But even assuming the virus is under control in 2021, it promises to be a year of rebuilding, recovery and job growth as employers, workers and consumers adapt to a post-COVID-19 world.

Many jobs were lost and won't be coming back soon. Glassdoor data shows devastating impacts in particular on lower-skilled service jobs, education jobs, administrative office roles, sales roles, and many discretionary healthcare jobs.

Even when the COVID-19 recession is a distant memory, there will be lasting impacts on workers and jobs. People will save money and plan for retirement differently and demand better health and flexible time benefits from employers. People will remember how employers supported them during COVID-19 which means companies will need to prioritize employee health and financial well-being for the years to come. 

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