Human Potential

New Work Models Will Thrive in 2021

Working from home was a defining feature of 2020 for many enterprises, most of which were able to continue to deliver productively despite the lack of office access. And while there is an end to the pandemic in sight, working from home will likely remain in 2021.

An Infosys global survey of nearly 850 of its customers across industries revealed that nearly 70% believe working from home is here to stay and will be a crucial part of the work environment. The survey also found that enterprises continue to apply features to their business’ work models that will enhance efficiency, increase creative collaboration, and yet are cost-effective.

According to Gartner, information technology spend is expected to rise by 4%, to $3.8 trillion in 2021, with a shift toward technologies that amplify the workforce. Our survey found that digital initiatives are the foundation of these investments. Over the next two years, nearly 80% of customers will focus on digitizing workplaces and experiences, cloud, analytics, and modernizing infrastructure (see figure 1). Much of this will support more collaborative and productive work-from-home models.

Figure 1. Enterprises will prioritize initiatives that support work-from-home models Digital Quotient: Lodestar for Future Ready Talent

The crisis that changed working from home

What started in 2020 as a human health disaster is morphing into an economic catastrophe. The International Monetary Fund expects it to be worse than the Great Recession of 2009. Perhaps the financial meltdown was only a glimpse of what was to come.

However, in any time of great adversity, innovation prevails, with human resilience at the forefront. 2020 was no different. Overnight, businesses transformed their employee work environments to adapt to remote working. Within a span of months, many enterprises enabled a majority of their employees — that’s millions of people around the world — to work remotely to comply with lockdown regulations. They have navigated regulatory, infrastructural supply chain, and, more importantly, personal and health challenges swiftly. While the lockdowns have been lifted, a large portion of the workforce continues to work from home. The U.S. had only 3.4% of its population remotely working just prior to the lockdowns. In November, this figure stood at 34%.

From a predominantly office-based environment prior to the pandemic, a work-from-home environment is now thriving, and confidence in the model is high. Seventy-eight percent of our customers believe that over 60% of their work can be delivered from home (see figure 2).

Figure 2. Enterprises believe work-from-home models are here to stay Digital Quotient: Lodestar for Future Ready Talent

Increased acceptance of new work models

Enterprises are now more open than ever to adopting new work models and embracing global pools of talent. Much of this has been enabled by the confidence that working from home has given leaders. Nearly 70% of our clients are ready to adopt work models that allow them to improve team flexibility, provide access to a global and diverse talent pool, save travel and real estate costs, and increase productivity (see figure 3).

Figure 3. Benefits of new work models Digital Quotient: Lodestar for Future Ready Talent

Fifty-six percent of respondents expect that these new models will result in more offshoring. Meanwhile, almost half (47%) believe that the new models of working will be supported by digital tools.

Partnerships to enable transformation

A web of digital infrastructure and tools that cooperate with each other is essential to embrace new work models. However, enterprises often encounter challenges on their digital transformation journeys. Ideally, digital initiatives should be delivered by those with a wide breadth of skills in order to be able to deliver on the technological, business, operational, and cultural changes that are required.

In the post-COVID era, enterprises will also look to partners to help them insulate their businesses from volatility, accelerate their digital transformation initiatives, and change their product and service portfolios with agility to drive greater customer value.

It is no surprise, then, that the top three criteria that our survey respondents look for among technology service providers include a breadth of services and an ability to scale operations quickly, strong digital muscle, and organizational resiliency (see figure 4).

Figure 4. Must-have traits for strategic partners Digital Quotient: Lodestar for Future Ready Talent