How 2020 Eternally Modified the Manner We Work

In 2017, Professor Robert Kelly, better known as the BBC dad, went viral after his kids walked in on an on-air interview. Three years later, Kelly is all of us struggling to balance the demands of work and home in 2020.

More specifically, Kelly’s work-from-home experience reflects the 42% of the U.S. labor force that has been able to do its job remotely this year. As a result of that blurring between office life and personal space, work for nearly half of Americans changed dramatically. Look no further than the video conferencing platform Zoom, which grew from 10 million to 300 million daily participants between December 2019 and April 2020.

As we head into a new year with the prospect of a fresh start—and perhaps even some normalcy at long last—plenty of questions remain about how and where digital professionals will do their jobs in 2021. Here’s a closer look at some of the answers from industry professionals.

Who is hiring? And who’s … not?

Dana Siomkos, CEO of the recruiting firm You & Them, expects to see continued demand for digital talent in 2021.

“I can’t think of a single industry where [digital skills are] not important right now,” she said.

After the pandemic hit, her clients—which are primarily agencies, brands and tech startups—put job searches on hold for “almost everything across the board … except digital product and social media,” Siomkos said.

That’s because “the smart companies were very quickly pivoting to ensure their digital presence was as strong and as meaningful as their in-person presence because … that’s where they had to engage with their consumers,” she added.

Katy Tynan, an analyst at research firm Forrester, agreed demand for digital skills will continue.

“The pandemic, generally speaking, was good for digital talent across the board, especially when companies … had to increase the ability to do business through technology because they could not do business in person anymore,” she said.

In particular, Siomkos said she has gotten a lot of requests for business development positions in the last few weeks.

“It leads me to believe … people want to come out of the gate like gangbusters in 2021 with a strong new business development strategy … to ensure they’re up and at ‘em, getting new clients and rejuvenating the business,” she added.

Thanks to increased consumer appetite for ecommerce, Anindya Ghose, professor of business at New York University, cited tech startups as having the wherewithal to continue hiring. Specifically, she pointed to ecommerce and DTC firms that enable online and mobile sales as strong drivers of employment. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Marsten, senior director of strategic marketplace services at performance marketing agency Tinuiti, said she’d add any retailer that had a great year in 2020 to the list, including Target, Kroger and Home Depot.

Similarly, increased digital consumption has put added pressure on marketers to deliver ROI. In turn, Juan Pacheco, director of performance at creative agency Mekanism, said performance-based media agencies and tech companies that serve online ads should see headcount grow.

On the other side of the coin, companies in survival mode, like brands in the travel industry, are going to lose digital talent.

“I would say any company that’s in survival mode is at risk of losing their digital talent even if they really, really, really, really need them,” Tynan said.

While companies in growth mode will be able to attract digital talent because they have the resources for now, Tynan questioned whether they will be able to retain that talent long term. That’s because talent will presumably be wary of companies that could shrink after the pandemic.

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