Our current times can be thought of a migraine headache for strategic planning. As I too lack a crystal ball, I will not venture guesses as to what the next 12 months will bring. Instead, let’s break down the key factors:
1. COVID-19 variability. The coronavirus has been incredibly disruptive of the world of work. Will there be a second wave? A useful vaccine? It seems unlikely we will stay static.
2. Digitalization. The past 10 years have seen massive investment in digitizing every aspect of the workplace and customer experience. Will the virus speed this trend even more?
3. AI and digital privacy. Artificial intelligence has been rapidly expanding. It has made further inroads in the efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Will there be a pushback against the major online platforms by governments on behalf of citizens?
4. COVID-19 hiring process. Companies are adjusting to hiring and onboarding new employees with minimum in-person interaction. What will be the implications for employee retention?
5. Growth projections. How can executives plan for growth in the face of the COVID-19 inspired ambiguity? What are the new best practices?
6. Survival for in-person industries. What’s ahead for industries that rely on clustering large groups of people — entertainment, dining, etc.? Will anyone be left beside global brands and chains in a year?
7. Supply chain onshoring. What will be the employment implications of the trend toward reshoring critical supply chain manufacturing back the U.S.? Will this trend speed up or dissipate with the virus?
8. China. What will our business relationship with China look like? The past 20 years have seen monumental growth of China as a business partner. How much political pressure will be brought to bear by the incoming presidential administration to push back on China’s abuse of intellectual property and human rights?
9. COVID-19 work at home. What are the longer-term implications of knowledge workers working from home? Presumably, some fraction of employees will prefer to do so permanently. A larger percentage will desire a dedicated workspace and personal contact. How will these varying desires be balanced?
Isaac Cheifetz, a Twin Cities executive recruiter, can be reached through catalytic1.com.