Predictions for 2021

As one door closes, another door opens...


As we leave the tumultuous year of 2020, it is very easy to become anxious about what 2021 could have in store for us, particularly as we begin the year in lockdown 3.0 and face the changes that Brexit has gifted us with.


It is important to try not to waste energy worrying. Protect your energy! We must look forward into 2021, and try our best to adapt to what it has in store. Let’s persevere and make 2021 a productive year full of even more resilience. At least this time we can keep our eyes on the prize – the finish line of COVID-19.


2020 forced businesses to accelerate, adapt and be resilient; many suffered, whilst others prospered. Now we all have the benefit of hindsight, it would be foolish to forget the lessons that 2020 has taught us. We have outlined our predictions for the coming year, in relation to business, university and the job market. We hope these predictions will give you some reassurance that you can prosper this year. 2021 will (eventually) be better, manifest it!


So without further ado, here are some of our predictions for 2021:


1. The Year of Reinvention


After the spanner of all spanner-in-the-works that was 2020, many businesses have had to reinvent themselves. Some have done so practically over-night. The need to reinvent will continue long into 2021. We expect reinvention to not be a singular project across businesses, but more a new constant state of evolution across the board.


Another casualty from the pandemic was the rise in unemployment, which in summer 2020 reached its highest level in three years. This time does, however, allow time for personal reinvention. Whilst change can be scary it is also very exciting and may bring your eureka moment, either as an individual or business.


2. Blended work


The pandemic forced many businesses to put systems in place to ensure an easy transition into working from home. This shift was easier for some, and for others, it was a huge challenge they had no choice but to embrace. This is the same for employees as some enjoyed working from home and others missed the separation and social benefits of office life. Once we’re out of lockdown, a blended approach will remain.


When I asked around the office (virtually) for some predictions about 2021, Sussex Innovation’s Student Enterprise Manager, Simon Chuter commented:


“In 2021 I predict that businesses will move to a blended office model. Blended in the sense that businesses will continue to have a physical office space and the home will become further entrenched as a ‘2nd office’. Businesses will choose to retain their office and value it as a place where their team comes together to collaborate, share ideas, and enjoy each other's company. Employees, having had a taste of WFH during the pandemic, will demand more flexibility from their employer about extending that into the new normal. I think the general trend will be towards a 3-2-2 model (3 office days, 2 WFH days, 2 weekend days). This prediction comes with a health warning though (please pardon the pun). Businesses will have to be clear of Lockdown/Tier 4 measures for this prediction to have a chance of becoming reality. So, look for this in the latter half of 2021 (I hope I’m not being too optimistic!).”


3. Keeping things personal, on a professional level


Working from home means you can’t have those important ‘water cooler chats’ with your colleagues, projects became harder to organise and team members feel an increasing sense of loneliness during their working day. To deal with this, many companies had to digitalise their processes to and enhance their automated system (or introduce one).

I think 2020 has affirmed how much we need and appreciate human interaction. Therefore, we recommend keeping things personal in 2021. Check-in on your employees, whether they are working remotely or not, and find out what you can do to make their lives easier. Empathy goes a very long way and a happy workforce is a productive one!

The same goes for customer interaction and human to human interaction cannot be automated in all scenarios. Sometimes all a customer needs is to chat on the phone to a person who can solve their problem.


4. The Job Market


Having graduated in 2020, I have to look forward to thinking about what jobs will be available to me. For recent graduates and graduates to come, this is incredibly daunting. I asked my fellow Catalyst team member, Emma Chau, for her prediction regarding this topic.


“After graduating from university in 2020 I’m grateful to have secured a place at Catalyst. I’ve learned so much in the first 6 months! I think for graduates entering the job market in 2021, it will be difficult, especially within the circumstances we find ourselves in. Everything is changing and adapting to the ‘new normal’, even application processes are a lot different from what they were in the previous year. It’s a weird time to be entering the job market as a graduate, for sure. Personally, I have hopes to secure a great job in London after finishing Catalyst, potentially in research or marketing, but I know it will be challenging. Whilst it will be difficult there are some great opportunities opening up for young people entering the job market, such as The Kickstart Scheme. I’d encourage loads of young people to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities if they can!”


The Kickstart scheme that Emma mentions is a government-funded scheme that helps employers by providing funding for them to create job placements for 16-24-year-olds who are currently on Universal Credit. Find out more here.


5. Brexit


Whilst Brexit has been on the horizon for a long time, it was able to creep up on us with the chaos of the pandemic distracting us. However, the UK has officially left the EU, and the transition period is over. This will of course affect businesses, trade, and travel. We know some areas will be hit harder by the new rules than others. Find out how Brexit could affect you here.


So there you have it, our 5 predictions for 2021. It feels important to say that these predictions, of course, only brush the surface. 2021 is likely to be a year full of changes, the end of COVID hopefully being one of them. We may be entering the year in a tough, disruptive period, but we are hopeful for the future.


We wish everyone a happy new year and we encourage you to take the lessons that 2020 taught you forward into the new year. Share your moments of enlightenment with those close to you.


What did 2020 teach you that you will not be forgetting?

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