The changing nature of today’s business world affects businesses of every size and in every industry. In this article, we look at organizational change trends that will reshape the business world in 2021 and beyond.
Organizational Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore: 2021 Edition
Here are a few of the most influential organizational change trends that will continue to affect change managers, change leaders, and businesses for the foreseeable future.
Over the past several decades, digital innovation has fueled significant changes in the economy, the business landscape, and the world. From the internet to mobile devices, digital technology has changed the way we communicate, work, and live.
Today, digital transformation is one of the driving forces behind many, if not most, modern-day organizational changes. And, importantly, the digital revolution is far from over.
In the years ahead, for instance, we will see organizations undergo major changes to adapt to emerging technologies, such as:
- The internet of things (IoT)
- Virtual reality (VR)
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Autonomous vehicles (AV)
Technologies such as these will leave almost no business untouched.
Business leaders will therefore need to stay alert and proactive in order to remain competitive.
Here are just a few examples of how businesses will shift in order to accommodate these technology trends:
- Automation will continue to take over technical workplace tasks, which means that employee training and upskilling will become more important than ever
- Businesses will begin to leverage technology and innovation as a competitive differentiator
- Workplaces will become more remote and more digital, which will affect everything from workplace dynamics to job categories
Since digital transformation will be the foundation of many business transformations for years to come, change leaders and business leaders should place digital at the top of their agenda.
Agile, resilient business processes
In 2020, agility and resilience became top priorities for organizations around the world. As COVID-19 impacted marketplaces in every corner of the globe, businesses had to make major organizational changes to adapt to the shifting circumstances.
While the pathway to recovery looks promising, some research firms, such as Accenture, have suggested that we can expect much more volatility in the years ahead.
To lead through change, therefore, change leaders should invest in agile processes, such as:
- Agile change management
- Agile product development
- Agile supply chains
Agility is one of the best ways to stay resilient during crises and uncertain times, though there are other areas to focus on as well.
Organizational resilience, for instance, is a business discipline that extends far beyond agile thinking. Frameworks vary from source to source, but often include comprehensive approaches that focus on:
- Risk management
- Human resources
- Business continuity
- Disaster recovery
As we move forward into the post-COVID era, areas such as these will remain a top priority for businesses that want to stay ahead of their competition.
The hybrid workplace
While some have suggested that remote work is the future, this is only partly true – the hybrid office is the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, and research does suggest that people like remote work. However, according to Morning Consult, one in four wouldn’t want to work from home and nearly half would prefer to work remotely only part of the time.
This will, suggest several analysts, give rise to a “hybrid” office model that combines onsite and offsite working.
The hybrid office, in turn, will bring about a number of other changes to the workplace, including:
- The standardization of remote working practices
- An increased need for technology that enables remote working, such as remote working software and remote training software
- New cybersecurity practices and software
- The introduction of new time management practices, such as flex-time
In 2020, many organizations clearly adopted remote or hybrid office models. But what is important to recognize is that this trend will not end, even after the global economy has recovered from the pandemic.
Business leaders should therefore not plan to return to the pre-2020 normal – instead, they should prepare for a “new normal” that includes, among other things, hybrid offices.
Alongside the economic changes that have been reshaping the business world, there has been a distinct change in the way leaders lead and the way organizations operate.
For instance, recently, we are seeing changes such as:
- A need for digital transformation leadership
- Changing organizational structures
- Digital-first business strategies and priorities
In short, we are seeing more than just cosmetic changes in the workplace – we are also seeing fundamental changes in the way businesses operate.
Naturally, not every organization is making changes that drastically alter their strategic aims or their mission statement.
However, those that are have recognized that the world itself is changing at a deep level and the only way to keep up is to reimagine their organizations from the ground up.
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