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The top 5 trends for shaping your workforce in 2021

Richa Bajaj | Senior Manager – People Function, Ashnik
Singapore, 16 Feb 2021

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2020 was a year that left us all with varied learnings and outcomes. From the moment ‘New Normal’ became a buzz word, it also became crucial for companies to understand the changing demands of doing business. The year forced some perpetual changes in the work environment and business dynamics. Businesses across the globe evolved to focus on two things particularly – Technology and People. With its fair share of unprecedented challenges, 2020 enabled organizations to learn new techniques, new ways of doing business, and prepare themselves with on-the-spot strategies. For some it worked, for some, it did not.

Eventually, it led to a significant shift in hunting a ‘New Breed of Talent’ that fits into this new normal (while also nurturing the in-house talents – equipping them to be future-ready). For starters, Gig-working grew rapidly, and it is here to stay as a significant chunk of the workforce.

In today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, how ready are you as an enterprise to face the new challenges?

Here are the top 5 trends of 2021 that might require your attention while working on your people ‘strategy’:

  • 1. Embrace work-from-anywhere (WFA): It took a lot of effort and understanding to absorb this concept of remote working for some companies in their set-up. Now teams can perform at their own pace and decide how to complete tasks irrespective of the place or hour. Emphasis is now more on delivering the results and not on how the delivery happens. On one side, it makes people accountable while leveraging the freedom of work, and on the other, it creates an opportunity for the companies to trust their teams more than ever. This model of work also puts some other aspects of performance under the radar. But proper use of technology will ensure smooth operations, thus being tech-savvy is a new skillset for your people in 2021.Digitalization across processes is continually making each function more agile. Tools with real-time monitoring and support make this seamless and efficient. How well you have prepared for these arrangements will decide how smooth your teams function.
  • 2. Look out for the overall wellbeing of your people: Companies are now looking at their people beyond their roles. The ‘Human’ in HR is reflecting in real, which is a welcoming change. Shifting from advocacy to empathy – this fosters business leaders to make work policies flexible and comforting. The overall wellbeing of resources has become the prime priority for companies as they want to take care of their people.
    Some companies are introducing 4-day work week, considering the new way of working might impact physical and mental health. A few have gone too far to make the ‘work from anywhere’ permanent. Few organizations are also taking employee health check-ups every quarter. A few have gone too far to make the ‘work from anywhere’ permanent. It shows the commitment organisations have for its people. Give this a thought, what are the benefits you will include for your teams’ wellbeing?
  • 3. Connect and engage with your teams: The biggest challenge for many Managers is perhaps overseeing remotely working teams and establishing a deep connection with them despite the distance. Because of diverse geographies and time-zones, people lack developing interpersonal-skills and comradery. Hence, creating a sense of belongingness just like you do when teams work from the same office is becoming important. What works is to understand their daily efforts and guide them using various collaboration tools. Flock and Slack are some of the top tools allowing teams to stay connected beyond boundaries and hours. It helps them maintain meaningful connections.
  • 4. Reskill and uplift your people: Doing business in 2021 will also require you to develop new competencies. People have been exploring new ways of enriching their careers through various available platforms for learning and development. Coursera, Udemy, Lynda have created ample opportunities for talents to outgrow their potential by re-aligning with market trends and technologies. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Identify the gaps keeping in mind your business requirements. Encourage your teams to undertake courses that can help them develop new skills and stay on top of their game.
  • 5. Create an open and collaborative environment: Many companies are focusing on organic growth of talent; in other words, encouraging the workforce to effectuate their potential to the fullest. This is only possible by providing a platform where new ideas are welcome, people have the freedom to choose and make decisions related to their work. It empowers individuals by making people ‘realise’ this is lifelong learning for them. Teamwork is a life-skill hence collaboration, cooperation, and communication are key for an organization to create a warm and energetic environment that nurtures the team. Especially for millennials, for whom it’s the work environment that plays an important role and a deciding factor in making them stay put or leave.

These trends will bring some challenges for you as HR and Team leaders, but at the same time, it will give you opportunities to create a lot of value with the right ‘people’ practices relevant to the current times.


  • Richa is leading the People function at Ashnik. She comes with 10 years of experience in Strategic and Sales HR, spreading across IT, Pharma, FMCG industries. Before joining Ashnik, she was spearheading the people’s function at Elixia Tech Solutions Ltd. She has worked with Cipla, Society Tea, Ozone group (Nomarks).