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Nexthink 2021 Predictions: Expect the unexpected in 2021 - Predictions for a better digital employee experience in the new year

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Expect the unexpected in 2021 - Predictions for a better digital employee experience in the new year

By Chris Terndrup, Business Transformation Architect of Nexthink

2020 has shaken almost every aspect of our lives, especially the workplace and its culture. With nearly 50% of employees now working remotely in the US, and similar trends impacting the workforce globally, business leaders have had to adapt how work processes are handled in order to save company culture while maintaining the capacity to be productive. One area that's been impacted the greatest is the digital employee experience and the ability to work as one cohesive team when a majority of employees are working outside the four walls of the traditional office space. In a recent survey, nearly 78% of  IT leaders said the digital employee experience is essential and to be a top priority in 2020. This differs greatly when compared to 49% in 2019.

As we look ahead to 2021, what can IT leaders expect in the upcoming year to best benefit their employees as the workforce continues to shift to a work from anywhere model? The below predictions should be top of mind in a year that will continue to be defined with uncertainty.

Company culture faces a crisis

The once well-known company culture filled with social gatherings and community engagements has become a distant memory in 2020. While employees are craving collaboration and social connectedness, Zoom meetings and video chats aren't quite hitting the mark, especially after nearly 10 months of doing so. 38% of employees claim to have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic. So, it is vital for businesses to get creative about how to virtually recreate what once was their company culture. As investments in fundamental needs are increasing for a virtual lifestyle - such as telehealth and remote learning - the business world needs to keep pace by putting employees first and help reduce the pressure and burden that comes from working from anywhere. 

In 2021, expect video fatigue to cause a decline in the number of video calls employees are expected to join on a regular basis and more organizations go back to their previous ways of communicating over the phone or using audio through their laptops - both internally and with customers. Keeping employees ‘actively engaged' rather than engaged is the challenge. Shared technology services that enable this relationship and human connection will be at the forefront of their thoughts and innovation.

An economic upturn in 2021 will see even more reliance on technology and the experience of engaged employees. This will include much closer partnerships between HR and IT. One way of keeping employees actively engaged is to provide the essential resources needed to get the job done and be a proactive listener to employee feedback and concerns. Some examples would include celebrating milestones in a creative fashion, promoting employee well-being, conducting routine check-ins, and more.

IT leaders become hardware hoarders

According to IDC, hardware shipments grew over 10% in Q2 2020 amid the global economic shutdown. Major laptop manufacturers such as Apple and HP saw an increase in sales as more and more employees secured the hardware needed to complete their job remotely - a trend we see continuing to increase in the coming months. In fact, we predict 2021 to be the year of smart purchasing. IT leaders will move to an intelligence led purchasing position in advance of their 2021 budgets and beyond. It's imperative that personas, workstyles and the experiences of employees are taken into account to enable the right IT for each employee as if it was tailor made to them. Furthermore, we'll see a significant and growing investment in Cloud based technology reducing operating costs and capital investments.

Executives may need to ask themselves if the extra spending, if not on additional hardware, could be put elsewhere or saved for a time when companies are cutting budgets and some have to furlough employees? Roughly 53% of employees say their employers have covered the cost of needed supplies to do their job from home.

IT Budgets will grow 2X

In 2021 technology will be the cornerstone of business recovery. It will be imperative that technology stands up to the demand and is resilient as we enter the second half of the year. Given the financial hit most industries have taken as a result of COVID-19, it would be logical to assume that CIOs' budgets will be smaller in 2021 - but that might not be the case.

With tech being central to facilitating day-to-day work, investments in hardware is more important than ever. In-fact some of the traditional companies, such as law firms and financial institutions, doing well while remote are the ones that were making investments in technology that enabled flexible working prior to COVID.

While there is no telling what 2021 will bring one thing is for sure; without satisfied and engaged employees, work cannot get done in the way it's desired. Employees are the nucleus of the organization and if they fail, a company's production and brand reputation is on the line.

Your team deserves as much strategic attention as your customers to make the experience productive and efficient. The act of doing so will go a long way and will help further promote your bottom line. A company who is well known for treating their employees well will foster new employee interest and open the market to a wider pool of talent. Give employees the opportunity to be the champions of your brand and with the right tool that is extremely possible in what could be another year of workplace uncertainty.


About the Author

Chris Terndrup 

Chris is a seasoned service management professional who has spent most of his career in senior technology roles across different industries including Insurance, Financial services, Telecommunications and Aerospace.

He is now working as a business transformation architect at Nexthink. His primary focus is in helping and supporting Senior business executives within META on change programs, particularly focused on the value to businesses of promoting positive digital employee experience. Chris has twice previously been a customer of Nexthink.

Published Friday, January 22, 2021 7:39 AM by David Marshall
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