COVID-19 has created a small window to significantly alter the nature of white collar work, according to Deloitte’s annual 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report. 

The report titled, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” notes that as restrictions ease and businesses plot their return to the office, organisations have an opportunity to improve the workplace with a stronger focus on employee wellbeing. 

Beyond enforcing new hygiene and social distancing measures, Deloitte argues this era of work will require a stronger focus on purpose to keep distributed teams working towards a common goal, and the ability to make bold decisions at a time of persistent change. 

Now in its 10th year, the study the top two global trends identified by Deloitte this year are belonging and wellbeing. Seventy-nine percent of global respondents said fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce was important or very important to their organisation’s success in the next 12-18 months.

Eighty per cent of organisations globally said worker wellbeing is important or very important for their success over the next 12–18 months, but only 12 percent say they are very ready to address this issue.

“The world’s greatest working from home experiment has shown many of us the value of technology,” said Deloitte Australia Human Capital Leader, Pip Dexter.

“But it has also amplified the human element of work, and life – showing colleagues the inside of our homes on video, giving us the ability to engage with anyone from anywhere rather than flying, and reducing commute times to give us more time to exercise or be with family.

“The challenge and opportunity now for business leaders is to ask: how do we avoid going back to what we had before? How do we make work better for humans, from a wellbeing perspective, as well as continue to use technology in a way that enriches the human work experience?” 

The design challenge facing HR leaders requires them to identify want to retain about the current way they work and how will a hybrid workplace between home and office function? 

“There are mixed feelings about the post-COVID workplace: some people can’t wait to go back to the office, while some don’t want to return at all, they prefer working at home. How do we create a virtual workplace and what will the purpose of our physical workplace be?” 

Skills & Resilience 

The Human Capital Trends survey noted that even before the pandemic, organisations were struggling to navigate the fast-changing skills landscape, with 53 per cent of respondents saying that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. Seventy-three per cent of respondents saw organisations as responsible for workforce development, compared with just 19 per cent seeing this as the role of educational institutions.

According to the report, in 2020 professional development will focus on building resilience, and acquiring new skills. 

“While this crisis has been very difficult in a number of ways, it has made many of us realise just how quickly we can reskill and how resilient we actually are,” said Dexter.

“Smart organisations will start teaching resilience as part of their professional development, giving their workers new skills to adapt to an increasingly technology-driven future and also the aptitude to manage (and thrive) in an uncertain world. In the future, adaptability will be a key, in demand, skill – the ability to adapt to change rapidly is a key requirement now. Those who can adapt faster, will thrive.”

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