The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that we don’t have to be in the same place to get work done. Tech giants such as Microsoft have already announced that they will keep many of their teams working from home into 2021. Mark Zuckerberg has said that Facebook could see at least 50 per cent of its employees working from home in the next five to ten years. In 2021, we’ll see companies of every size offer remote working by default.
In part this will be a cost-saving measure, but it will also change how technology companies find and hold on to talent. Technology isn’t confined by borders, but until now, the way these businesses have recruited has been. In 2021, we will see HR teams changing their recruitment criteria, as firms realise proximity to a set office location can no longer be a key driver in the hiring process. Where someone lives will take a backseat to their skillset, mindset and personality – traits which will far better serve technology businesses than the ability to show up to the office every day.
Remote working will put a renewed hiring emphasis on autonomy, with organisations looking for employees who can work without constant supervision. And employees, in turn, will expect autonomy. No one wants to spend five hours a day on a Zoom call discussing what they have to do, and then try to do that work in the remaining hours of the day.
We will also see these changes extending beyond traditional office settings. The way products are designed, for example, will also be modified if designers are unable to meet in person and tinker with physical prototypes to understand how they feel.
Instead, product-design teams will be forced to find new ways of collaborating, regardless of distance and location. Some designers are already strapping GoPros to their heads so they can talk through a prototype remotely. But this can’t recreate that all-important moment of touching and feeling something for yourself.
In 2021, we will see companies experimenting with augmented-reality tools and virtual-reality headsets to create environments where teams can manipulate products for themselves, even though they might never see that prototype in the flesh.
And product teams will also benefit from this new borderless world. By having them spread over a range of countries and locales, companies can ensure their technology truly meets a global set of expectations and needs, rather than being narrowly focused on wherever their offices are located.
It’s taken some time, but 2021 promises to be the year the technology industry finally moves beyond the limits of the physical office, tearing down outdated barriers to recruitment based on borders and increasing the diversity and skillsets of their teams. This will be a change driven by necessity, but it is one we will all benefit from for years to come.
Tania Boler is founder and CEO of Elvie