The effects of the pandemic are posing new challenges, far-reaching and permanent
As we look ahead to trends in 2022, the effects of the pandemic are holding steady and continuing to impact the world of work longer than originally anticipated. Behavioral changes in personal and professional spheres have resulted in the expectations of new norms, such as working remotely and more flexibly to help ensure a work-life balance. Going back to pre-pandemic ways of working will be quite jarring – if not altogether impossible.
In 2022, the world will focus on the realities of returning to work post-COVID vaccines and what new, creative policies employers will implement to keep employees happy, engaged and committed. New policies, new considerations and new processes will all be top of mind for employers to explore. Companies will juggle the needs of the organization with the emerging preferences of employees.
Additional priorities will also be prevalent starting in the New Year. Below are some trends in human resources and the future of global work that Omnipresent predicts for 2022.
The remote work model will become permanent, empowered by new technologies
We will see more adoption and normalization of remote work as companies realize the benefits of taking a global first approach to building their business. Hiring from a larger talent pool outside of traditional work hubs and having the ability to scale and expand operations internationally without the heavy administrative burdens that come with a more traditional approach to expanding their businesses.
It became obvious in 2020 and 2021 that there is a big market for technologies and techniques to make remote working and hiring better. More tech solutions – and familiarity with them – that focus on output, collaboration and streamlining will become available in 2022, further increasing the efficiency of working remotely.
Being global-first will increase global mobility
Companies who focus on being global-first understand that the whole world is an opportunity from a commercial perspective. These companies serve global markets which require them to place teams around the world to facilitate a deeper understanding of local customer behavior and needs outside of their home markets. With companies increasingly focused on being global-first, they will increasingly tap into the global talent pool making it easier for people to work remotely – but also increase the opportunities to change locations globally.
This global mobility not only supports the global expansion business goals, but also supports those employees who need (or want) to split time between different locations for family or health considerations, or to upgrade their skills. Technology, plus the accepted norm and ability to work asynchronously around the world, will help increase global mobility.
Relevant benefits will be top of mind
There will be increased focus on the harmonization of benefits. Companies will want to implement equal health and equity ownership benefits regardless of where employees live, but this will be complex to administer given local regulations and availability of providers. Benefits will be an area where companies can stay ahead of their competitors by going beyond compliance and expectations, but by finding creative ways to ensure their teams’ well-being is of the utmost priority, especially for employees at high risk of burnout from working from home. While the option of working from home is considered a perk to those who prefer or need it, 2022 will see most forward-thinking companies offering it as a standard work benefit.
Salary benchmarking and localization will be a differentiator for businesses
With the increase of remote work in the U.S. and globally, the question of salary benchmarking will have a big impact on companies and employees. This topic of cutting employee salaries based on where they live has been met with controversy, especially for larger tech companies like Google. The questions remain though: is it fair to pay someone in Raleigh differently than someone in San Francisco? Is it commercially sensible to pay someone in San Francisco the same as someone in Raleigh?
Salary benchmarking is even more difficult when companies must consider what they need to pay someone in New York City versus what they will pay for the same kind of talent in Lagos, Nigeria. There is no simple solution for companies and complexities, like compliance and pay equity, only further confuse the issue. In 2022, companies will need to decide what is both aligned with their values and fair, while ensuring they are competitive in a global market and within their industry.
While companies decide on their localized remuneration packages for knowledge workers, we will also see a shift in how remote work will impact the larger community. Finding the right talent is no longer limited to geographic borders which impacts salaries across the globe.
Since talent in traditionally high-talent work hubs, such as San Francisco, New York and London, are now competing in a global market, their high wages likely will stop increasing or, possibly, even decrease. The opposite also will be true for knowledge workers in traditionally low-income countries since they are now able to access a global pool of career opportunities. This new normal of work globally will increase local competition and affect the salaries for knowledge workers and their communities, yet another shifting challenge for global companies.
Increasing budgets for retention and culture-building of remote workers
Being remote means a company can be location-agnostic, which unlocks access to a larger and more specialized global talent pool. However, this presents challenges to retain and recruit employees who may feel less attached to their company and have more opportunities to leave now that location is less important. It is no longer enough to simply employ people remotely; rather, to retain remote workers, it will be essential for companies to make a systematic effort in making them feel part of the company culture. These changes in internal systems and processes translate to an increase in budgets to help with retention and culture building. For example, periodic in-person events will be key to building community among these remote employees.
Another way to ensure retention is focusing on the importance of hiring not only people who fit the current company culture, but to hire for culture-add to help build towards what the company culture will be in the future.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives will expand
In an increasingly global economy, a diverse workforce provides companies with a myriad of competitive advantages. Research by McKinsey showed that companies with more diverse workforces are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry averages. By moving away from the idea that companies can only hire locally opens them up to a more diverse talent pool, with different shared experiences, languages, and local know-how. As such, more companies will begin hiring accordingly.
However, just because employers hire a more diverse workforce doesn’t mean the group of employees working together feel they belong together. Challenges of cross-cultural communication will increase in 2022. As a result, HR leaders and front-line managers will need to help create a more inclusive culture in the coming year, and companies need to ensure their DEI policies are well-integrated to their business.
Job responsibility and challenges will widen for HR and People teams
As ways of working continue to evolve, there is often an expectation that HR and People teams have the right solutions, whether about hiring internationally or employee engagement and benefits in a remote-first world. With the massive shift towards this new way of work, remote or hybrid, HR and People teams are learning while on the job – in real time. No one company has it right and no team has everything running smoothly. As such, companies will need to find the right resources, technology, and partners to support them as they change and grow to confront the challenges of how the world works.
Despite the many challenges and setbacks, we might see in the coming year, the world is moving in a positive direction that will continue to see global teams grow and focusing on technology to help ensure more transparency at different levels. Advancements in technology and healthcare, will continually improve our quality of life and ability to achieve.
The remote work evolution has already opened new opportunities for companies and employees to attain their goals, and this new normal of how people work will help us return to our normal life, as different as it may be. We believe there will eventually be a shift away from remote work being seen as a different way of working. Instead, it will be viewed simply as work, and we look forward to seeing the normalization of remote work for companies and employees around the world.