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The 6 biggest lessons about work from 2021

The 6 biggest lessons about work from 2021


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2020, 2021, and Now 2022

In 2021, we assumed we’d return to something a little more consistent, with more concrete answers than we had in 2020. We envisioned ourselves back in offices at least a few days a week, returning to meetings (albeit with more hand sanitiser).

But, for much of the workforce, things haven’...

It didn’t take long for huge numbers of workers to figure out how much they liked remote work and all the elements that come with it. But in 2020, changes to work set-ups felt reactive to the pandemic, and it was hard for employees to know which shifts would stick.

A year on, it d...

Of course, there is a possibility that some of these new work arrangements won’t stick, particularly if the labour market tightens and employees have less voice than they do now.

But an overwhelming number of companies have already committed to new work practices to accommodate worker des...

The mass worker exodus and labour reshuffle has been most extensively documented in the US, where American workers continue to leave the workforce in record numbers each month.

But similar trends are staring to emerge in the UK, where workers are increasingly reporting a desire to change ...

Across the world, the workers resigning, contemplating quitting or hopping into other positions have put pressure on employers to offer better perks to both attract and retain talent.

And what workers want has changed: they report asking for more personalised benefits, access to mental-he...

Many companies have stepped up to meet these desires, and more have announced plans to.

Over the summer, major companies including LinkedIn and Nike shut down entirely for mental-health days and weeks – an unprecedented move in a productivity-driven, capitalist society.

For frontline and service workers, the return-to-work in a still chaotic and uncertain world has not been optional, and many are bearing the brunt of customers acting out.

Many of these employees are stretched incredibly thin, as businesses are understaffed amid labour shortages in indust...

We’ve become keenly aware that access to efficient and comfortable remote work is not equal for all knowledge workers, as basic utilities like reliable high-speed internet is not a given for some employees, nor is space to work comfortably or quietly.

Entry-level and younger workers in ge...

There are fears that women who are able to get back into the workforce and resume their careers may fall behind male colleagues who consistently work in the office, due to presenteeism and proximity biases – potentially worsening the gender gap.

Surfacing inequalities is the first step to ...

Without commutes to take or office doors to walk out of, many workers are finding it harder to draw hard lines between personal and professional lives. They’re reaching for their phones at all hours, answering messages in bed first-thing and sending off emails after their children go to bed.


Unsurprisingly, burnout and unpaid overtime are rampant, especially among certain groups such as middle-managers and women. Many businesses are running on skeleton crews amid the labour shortage, which has put an immense amount of pressure on those who stayed amid the Great Resignation.


Employees and employers alike are expected to gather in person again in some form and hit a new stride. Many companies even put money into redesigning their offices, in many cases eliminating banks of desks, and adding more collaborative spaces and isolation booths to cater to worker requests, no...

Many employees are still left in limbo without having a sense of how a hybrid set-up will – or won’t – work for them. It’s a kind of uncertainty that’s weighed down workers, both emotionally and logistically, for nearly two years.

Additionally, without hybrid in action, employers lack dat...

As much as we continue to speculate about what will and won’t work for hybrid, we’re doing exactly that: speculating.

Neither workers nor businesses have the real-life experience we need yet, which means the hybrid set-up we’re touting as the future of the workplace is very much a work-in-...

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