Solutions for 2021 Workforce Trends

Businesses and organizations are looking for ways to keep remote employees productive throughout the pandemic – and in some cases, long term.

2021 Workforce Trends

The year 2020 will go down in history as a turning point for workers in the U.S. Businesses that had resisted the work from home model were forced to try it—and in many cases found that dispersed teams maintained their productivity and helped lower operating costs. Workforce trends that will continue into 2021 include ensuring that remote workers have all the tools and resources they need to be the most efficient and effective.

The following IT industry leaders share their insights into the types of solutions businesses are looking for to optimize workflows for their employees — wherever they’ll work in 2021.

Solutions for employees working from home

Jeff Ton, Strategic IT Advisor at InterVision, says, “The explosion of a remote workforce is something many organizations will integrate into their new normal, possibly forever. 2021 will see many CIOs re-evaluating workforce enablement tools, including their collaboration stack, SaaS applications in lieu of legacy on-premises applications, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).”

Ton explains, “Companies will find that VDI solves many of their enablement issues, but they may also find it is not a fit for all users in all cases. So, workforce enablement will require a hybrid approach, matching the right tool to the right problem.”

Lachlan Donald, CEO of Buildkite, says, “Making distributed teams work requires a foundation of asynchronous communication or processes and platforms that enable people to communicate and connect across global time zones. This style of working not only improves team collaboration, but fosters community, reinforces trust, and helps avoid employee burnout. I expect asynchronous operations to be a pillar of the new future of work.”

Nichole Kelly, Vice President of Growth at Windward Consulting Group, adds, “Enhancing the online user experience (UX) for employees, as well as prospects and customers at every touchpoint, will be imperative for businesses to differentiate in 2021.”

Networks that accommodate remote workers

Dustin Milberg, Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision, points out, “Businesses will continue to decrease their dependency on self-managed data centers in favor of public cloud or colocation for increased capabilities. This has created an increased need to secure connectivity between physical environments. Secure access service edge (SASE) has emerged as popular solution, combining WAN capabilities and network security into one cohesive strategy, which provides organizations with more assurance in secure connectivity.” 

Communications and collaboration solutions that adapt to new workforce trends

Tom Martin, CEO of Glance, says, “2020 was the year for Zoom, and 2021 will be the year of building Zoom-like visual experience functionality into digital apps. In the coming year, we expect to see developers embedding these premium visual collaboration capabilities into digital apps.”

He adds, “Visual Experience as a Service (VXaaS) will enable the knowledge worker to join the customer in the digital app, see their screen, conduct an in-app video call, offer strategic consultation, and highlight on-screen elements to guide navigation and shepherd transactions through to completion. By instrumenting apps with VXaaS, developers can help businesses deliver more empathetic and efficient digital interactions that increase sales and drive higher customer satisfaction.”  

Sales and marketing adaptions

Carol McNerney, CMO at ibi, expects sales and marketing teams to look for ways to be effective as social distancing policies continue in 2021. “Before the pandemic, much of my job involved traveling to meet with prospective clients or heading to events to network and tell our story,” McNerney says. “With COVID’s impact on everything from business travel to in-person coffee chats, people aren’t taking two or three days to travel to a trade show and take in a panel conversation, dinner and one-to-one meetings. Now you might get 30 minutes on Zoom or join a conference for a keynote, and that’s it.”

She says it’s vital for businesses to adjust their sales processes to enable their reps to connect with customers and prospects through video conferencing and other platforms and “help them make every minute count in engaging ways.”

McNerney adds, “While the pandemic will hopefully taper off soon, these new habits will be here to stay.”

Data accessibility for remote teams

McNerney also says it’s vital for businesses to make valuable data insights easily accessible to their teams. “Visualizations can be great business tools, but if the data they’re sourcing from isn’t complete or accurate, it’s easy to overlook business-critical insights. Employees need to have confidence in their business decision, especially during an important and ever-evolving business climate, and that all starts with data. When employees have easy access to the data they need, they are able to embed intelligence into everything.”

Solutions to help IT keep up with the fast pace of changing workforce trends

Ton says, “The relationship between IT and the rest of the business is stronger than ever before. COVID-19 has created a new way of working. Dubbed ‘Pandemic Mode,’ as opposed to incrementalism, it encompasses faster decision making, more responsiveness from IT, and reduction in the onerous processes. This is a much faster pace than many businesses, and IT shops are accustomed to working. This will lead to more companies adopting agile methodologies. This adoption will be driven by the business demands to keep up the Pandemic Mode pace of change.”

Liz Beavers, Head Geek at SolarWinds, says, “I think 2020 really proved what IT is made of and what they can make possible for their organizations. IT departments helped pave the way during seriously unnatural/uncertain times. By being steadfast and innovative leaders that got things done to make remote operations possible, I feel IT technicians got elevated in the eyes of other company stakeholders and leaders. I’m excited to see where technicians, service desk managers, and directors of IT will continue to grow and how they can shape and help to streamline other business processes.”

“They’ve done a great job of shifting how the organization sees the value of IT. One of the biggest opportunities for IT is being the change driver and status quo challenger — presenting success in the agility and pivot they had to make in order to support global organizations is a testament to how their processes/products/thinking can be applied in other non-IT realms.”

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.