I think it’s time to cut through the mountain of media predictions and really get down to what we can expect this Summer and Fall with respect to work, hiring, and the future of employment in the U.S. I’m not an expert, but it seems that no one really is. So after 25+ years in Talent Acquisition here is my take on what the future will bring.
Are we going back to work soon?
The short answer, in my opinion, is a resounding YES! Perhaps I am too optimistic, but before anyone points a discerning finger, there are several layers to this onion that need to be peeled back.
Working from home is going to prove to be a big success, and will continue to gain tremendous momentum over the next year. Employers are more than convinced that it can work. COOs are going to realize that the cost savings are significant, productivity is up, and there is a lot of money to be saved by scaling down onsite teams. Most people working from home, pre-COVID-19, felt they had a better quality of life and greater job satisfaction. WFH is here to stay.
Any minor loss of productivity, if it exists, is more likely a result of quarantine and employees having to juggle working, child care, home schooling, and frankly the day in day out boredom of COVID -19. Business process gaps are closing quickly as the workplace adjusts to a more remote setting.
For those positions that require working onsite, I am confident that rapid testing and screening will be up to the challenge. While it will be a hassle to be checked every day, it will work. And yes, I believe we will be moving towards some type of daily testing scenario. Office staff numbers will be noticeably smaller on a day to day basis, but that will only contribute positively to social distancing and virus containment.
We are looking at a decreased number of people in almost every part of our daily lives. Traffic, mass transportation, in person meetings, and corporate functions. But.. the show will go on and so will the hiring.
I believe that we are going to see an explosion of hiring somewhere in the 4th Quarter. Now, in some sectors like travel and hospitality, this may not be anything more than people coming back to work, workers shifting, or simply reversing some of the losses of the past few months. Even though it might be at 50% of previous levels, it is going to seem like an employment boom!
The tech sector will get a shot of adrenaline. COVID-19 is going to be the catalyst to push modernization, automation, and business process re-engineering. If you thought we were mobile before… look out! Any deficiency that was made noticeable by the Pandemic will be a black eye for any company, and we will move from a “nice to have” to a “must-have” view of advanced technologies. Demand for cloud-based technologies will continue to push innovation and expansion. And.. let’s not forget supply chain management. This Pandemic is finally going to get everyone thinking Globally, all the time.
Healthcare, biotech, research are all going to explode. I believe trillions of public dollars are going to flow into creating a global readiness program that involves the large scale sharing of data between countries, healthcare providers, biotech companies, pharmaceutical and research companies. The Pandemic is going to push the fast forward button on many programs that were struggling for funding pre-COVID-19. This will advance medical technology by a decade.
It may be slow at first, and many think the Fall will be another crisis. I do not. Why, because the entire country will be prepared for the worst and battle-ready. This country, and many others, are amazing innovation hubs when faced with a crisis.
With that said, there will be sectors that will not recover well until there is an available and mass produced Vaccine. Travel and Hospitality, as well as many of the companies that support these industries will not have a clear path to pre-Pandemic levels. Domestically the industry may fare a bit better than internationally, and perhaps even see a small boom. As Americans decide to stay close to home, airlines, and cruise lines will continue to suffer. In fact I suspect that there may be consolidation in those two industries within the year. That will probably mean good news for Domestic providers, although as an industry, Travel and Hospitality will continue to shrink in 2020
Can you say pass the REMOTE? This Pandemic will change everything, everywhere, forever. We will become a nation that will work more from home, than at the office. This will cause huge innovations to be made with respect to talent and workforce management. Accountability, productivity as well as team management practices will all have to be revamped to provide equal opportunity and manage responsibility across a diverse group of people who do not work side by side, in person, every day. In many cases this will force companies to change their culture completely.
Going one step further, I think this shift will finally be what we have needed to level the playing field. Women and Men may no longer have to make the choice of leaving the workforce entirely to raise and support a family. Juggling work and home life may become easier. The equalization at home and at work, caused by the Pandemic, may prove to be exactly what was needed to rearrange our thought process of what the work/life balance could be. The value placed on people, in my opinion, will change faster than it already has and will be seen across every industry.
So, we have touched briefly on quite a few points. There is so much to say I can probably write a small book. I hope you share your thoughts and opinions with me, and I will continue to call it as I see it. I believe the best is in front of us!
Come back for more as I continue to explore these topics and our new reality over the coming months.