2020 shook the world of work, and we know we’re not alone in saying we’re happy it’s behind us. The drastic changes of the last year mean that even as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work will have evolved.
We expect two trends—both of which existed before the pandemic but were accelerated by it—to stick: first, a business environment characterized by greater uncertainty. Second, a move toward decentralized organizations, with a greater focus on teams as critical players in the success and growth of companies. 89% of U.S. workers say they would want to work from home some or all of the time even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, according to the Pew Research Center.
Both of these factors give teams greater freedom to work with agility and speed. They also put pressure on team members, and their managers, to perform. In 2020 teams focused on getting work done in a new environment. 2021 will be the year that distinguishes between teams able to just “get the job done” under less than ideal conditions, and teams that can successfully shift their focus toward getting better. We’re welcoming the new year with some thoughts on what teamwork will look like in 2021, and how team leaders can set their people up for success.
1. Expect a year of transition
Wouldn’t it have been great if we could wish away social distancing and masks as soon as the clock hit midnight on January 1? Unfortunately, COVID is far from over, which means a large-scale return to the office is still far off—if it ever happens. What we can expect is a year with almost the same level of transition and evolution as we saw in 2020, albeit with more planning ahead.
At some point this year, we will start to see more work environments returning to a combination of face-to-face and remote work. The transitional nature of this moment means teams and managers will need to get, or stay, comfortable with rapid adjustments to changing circumstances for a little while longer.
2. Bottom-up teamwork will be front and center
With employees of some companies spread out across the globe and with few prospects to meet in person, managers struggled in 2020 to maintain a grasp on their people. That has created a growing need for teams to step up and own their success, to take a more grassroots, bottom-up approach toward meeting their objectives. We expect this trend to grow in 2021 as teams and managers settle into their new, empowered role.
3. Managers will be key to enabling fast adaptation
Good management has always been important, but with the evolved role of teams, managers now face an opportunity to more directly affect improved business outcomes. In 2021, managers will empower their teams to create, share, and use their own learning to constantly improve. This means speaking about challenges and successes more openly and more often, using lessons learned to understand how their team functions optimally, and making continuous adjustments to steer it in the right direction.
4. Collaboration tools will become more results-oriented
Remote work means companies are spending more money on collaboration tools. A 2020 IT spending survey conducted by Nemertes found that 45% of companies plan to spend more on collaboration tools in 2021. As companies explore where to invest their budgets, they should consider the following: seamless collaboration is not enough if it isn’t tied to results and made totally transparent.
Why? Because the uncertainty of our world has taught us that there’s no time for error. When we tie processes to results and track our progress, we can pinpoint where small adjustments are needed to get on track when we veer off course, or when conditions require a quick change. And because when the whole team is not only aware of its status on a particular project, but can also see what lessons are being learned along the way, and how actions shift in response, results improve faster.
Teams are the future of work. And those that harness their ability to learn and improve constantly will lead their organizations to new heights in the year to come.
To learn more about how Shamaym’s Collaborative Real-Time Learning platform can help your team get better, faster in 2021, contact us today.