2021 Trends & Their Impact on the Workplace

Each year brings new changes to the workplace, and 2021 will be no exception. In fact, I predict there will be eight 2021 trends to look out for. Many of these will change the world of work dramatically:


After being cooped up for over a year, team members are now ready to get out into the world. Many have already been planning their next dream vacation or outing, just waiting for their opportunity.

Remote Work

Companies previously hesitant to let their team members work from home had to give it a try in 2020. Now, both organizations and team members know that their work can be done away from the office. With that comes a big dose of freedom!


A public health crisis is quick to illuminate the many gaps in wellness within the American workforce. Team members will expect to have the time to get enough sleep, experience deep relaxation, and practice daily affirmations.


The minimalist look is all the rage this year, with team members wanting their spaces to be free and uncluttered. This approach helps to quiet the mind and create a sense of much needed calm after a storm.

Smart Design

People are downsizing and looking to maximize their space. They do so with smart design elements like “Cloffices” (closet offices) and room dividers that double as bookshelves. After all many families have had to get creative with everyone being bunched at home together for months.


From our clothing to our workspaces we value comfort more than ever now. We’re so used to wearing pajama bottoms and slippers just out of camera view…

Being Bold

You start to see everything in a new way when your entire routine is disrupted. Out of that comes an opportunity to innovate! Team Members will be eager to share all these ideas bouncing around in their heads.


Many of us experienced the loss of a loved one within the last year. Relationships mean more to us than ever before. After all, connection with others is special and finite. Team members will want the opportunity to be present for the people in their lives.

What Does This Mean for the Workplace?

If the work can be done remotely; let it

Many jobs simply do not need to be done in an office setting, we have so many tools available to us now that “the office” is wherever we happen to be working. Allowing team members to work remotely saves them the lost time of a commute and affords them the opportunity to live wherever their hearts desire. This is a HUGE benefit to offer your team, and one that will act as a powerful retention and attraction tool.

Give ample time for wandering

With that wanderlust comes the need to travel and go on new adventures. If the work can be done remotely then wanderlust can be naturally addressed by allowing the team member to work wherever there is a WiFi connection. If the work can’t be done remotely, ample vacation time will be necessary to prevent employees from becoming antsy and disengaged.

Focus on balance

The old format of commuting two hours a day and working 10+ hour shifts at the office is rapidly dissolving. Team members want balance as they have reevaluated their lives over the course of the pandemic; workaholism to the detriment of family and health is no longer something to be celebrated. Make sure your team has time to take breaks, unplug during the weekends, eat dinner with their families, and carve out time to eat well, exercise, and get enough rest. Check out this WorkLife Pathways article for more information on balance HERE.

Design your workspaces to be minimal, calming, comfortable, and thoughtfully designed

For those that are unable to work from home (or on the road!) 100% of the time, it’s recommended that employers create workspaces that invite people in and make them feel cozy and welcome. The trend right now is “Japandi” aesthetic which is a blend of Scandinavian and Japanese décor. This means lots of clean, neutral color schemes with wood integrated wherever possible. Maximize space through efficient design and you have a recipe for happy workspaces.

Relax your dress code

The stuffiness of the office needs to be a thing of the past; clothing should be comfortable with a touch of professionalism. Relax your dress code down to “casual Friday” every day so people can come as their own unique selves. After all, many of us have gotten very used to wearing pajama bottoms and slippers just out of sight of our cameras during zoom meetings!

Foster an entrepreneurial mindset in your team

All the recent disruption has allowed people to think more outside of the box. Team members have all sorts of ideas as a result and they will be looking to put them in to action. It’s critical that leaders and employers provide them the opportunity to innovate and take calculated risks. If they don’t, team members might just take that creativity elsewhere…

Make space for connections in and out of work

It’s become very apparent that the people in our lives are of the utmost importance, and that our time together is limited. Employers will need to ensure that team members are able to prioritize relationship needs over work as this will be the expectation of the team member after a traumatic year. Be flexible, and make space for connections within the office to flourish as well.


2021 will be marked by a rise in the need to:

  • Explore
  • Be free to work outside the office
  • Focus on wellness
  • Enjoy minimalist and thoughtfully designed workspaces
  • Be comfortable
  • Innovate
  • And prioritize the people in our lives

Employers that want to attract and retain top talent will need to make space for all the above. Robust PTO and remote working options will need to be available, the 30 to 40-hour workweek will need to be adopted, and workspaces will need to be designed with peace and coziness in mind. Dress codes will need to become laxer, space for innovation and risk taking will need to be created and held, and relationships need to be viewed as a top priority. The 2021 worker wants freedom and comfort, as well as the ability to live a balanced life while working creatively. It’s a whole new year; let’s leverage these changes for success!

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