Looking ahead through 2021

8th March 2021

2020 was a year like no other as the global pandemic exploded and changed our world. We were introduced to the concepts of lockdown, furlough, ‘eat out to help out’, rapid flow testing and working from home was no longer a luxury reserved for the fortunate few.

There were, of course, some important legislative changes during the year but on the whole 2020 was consumed by all things Covid.

It almost seems impossible to predict what might lie ahead for 2021 insofar as HR trends are concerned, but one thing for certain is that they will be linked to the pandemic and the way it has reshaped the working world.



It is estimated that over 80% of managers are concerned about employee productivity and focus and are particularly worried about how they can realistically manage performance from a distance. But it is also estimated that 98% of employees want the option to work from home for at least part of their working week to remain permanently.

For many, working from home has helped establish a better work-life balance with flexible schedules and no commuting. But for others it has become completely intrusive as the separation between work and home is no longer there, the kitchen table has become their work desk and there seems to be no escape from screens – and whilst there may be fewer interruptions from meetings and social chatter, the concept of ‘team’ is no longer there.

It would seem that there are certainly as many arguments ‘for’ as ‘against’ when it comes to remote working and this will undoubtedly remain high on the HR agenda during 2021.



This trend has been gathering pace over the past few years and this year will be no exception with organisational culture at the top of the list – how can people feel included when they are apart? There is also the rising awareness of diversity and the consequential demand for more training brought about by developments such as Black Lives Matter and #Me Too.



The need to improve employee engagement to support productivity, prevent ‘WFH’ burnout and protect employee wellbeing has to be a priority for this year. This essentially is a strategy that educates and supports a business and its people as we negotiate our way through a ‘new normal.’



Changes to IR35, which were due to be implemented in April 2020, have been deferred to 6 April 2021. The changes will only affect medium to large companies.



Changes to the free movement of workers means that EU citizens living in the UK before 1 January 2021 can live and work in the UK but they will need to apply under the EU settlement scheme. Employers that wish to sponsor employees to come to the UK on a skilled worker visa need to obtain a sponsor licence.


This is obviously not an exhaustive list. Very few people could possibly have predicted the utter disruption that Covid has caused and its influence will undoubtedly continue into 2021 so whilst we have to plan for the future, we also need to remain agile and ready for what may be thrown at us next!


Get in touch

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, Melanie Rowe (Senior Associate), would be delighted to hear from you. You can reach Melanie on 07854029922 or you can email her melanie.rowe@murrellassociates.co.uk.