After a year like no other, what learnings can we take into 2021?
Many of us were eager to welcome 2021 with open arms. We were anxious for a fresh new start, a blank page with a new beginning.
When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, it didn’t feel like much had changed — but it has. Can you think back to this day a year ago? The world was a different place.
The year 2020 was pivotal. The pandemic disrupted how we live, work and act. Trends and behaviours we’ve adapted will inevitably outlast the pandemic, and it’s up to us to see these as opportunities. It’s up to us to take what we’ve learned from the events of 2020 and come back stronger this year.
Here are three ways the last year will shape 2021 and beyond:
1. Traditional industries have leaned on startups for innovation
When the pandemic hit, digitization accelerated ten-fold. This meant that industries that have been historically slow to adopt new technologies, such as insurance and legal, were forced to make sweeping changes to how they operate.
Startups are agile; they embrace disruption. The work they do became more important than ever as traditional industries began leaning on tech companies to meet needs in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data privacy, e-commerce, clean technology and advanced manufacturing.
Now, startups are helping all sectors of the economy pivot, and they’re prepared to play a leading role in Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.
2. Workplace behaviours and relationship dynamics have changed
COVID-19 has forever changed office work as we know it.
Five million more Canadians began working from home at the start of the pandemic — that’s nearly 40 per cent of the workforce. And a whopping 85 per cent of Canadian workers said they’d like to have the option of working remotely going forward, meaning a remote-first or hybrid model will likely arise for many workplaces.
The virtual workforce transformation has pushed us beyond our comfort zones.
Employees feel the loss of work-life balance as their job and personal lives come under one roof. Managers have been asked to develop more empathy and be cognizant about how their team members are really doing.
Are work behaviours in need of a complete overhaul? How will these new norms affect our work relationships in the long-term?
3. There is a wider consciousness on inequities
The barriers and inequities that vulnerable populations experience became even more apparent this year — but maybe it’s the wake-up call that society has needed.
Low-income workers were less likely to be able to work remotely, leading to further risk of COVID-19 infection. Families in poverty were pushed into deeper levels of economic hardship with job loss. The year was particularly difficult for the Black community, who have had to deal with racial battle fatigue following pain and sufferings brought by racism and police brutality. Struggling small businesses owners felt ignored by the government and asked for more COVID-19 support, while large corporations saw profits soar as a result of lockdowns.
These are persistent issues. They’ve always been there, but 2020 brought them to the forefront. How can our systems work to address the imbalance of equity going forward? People are acknowledging it, they’re learning, and that’s a great first step. Let’s hope this energy is here to stay.
What has the last year taught you, and how will it shape your future?
Abdullah Snobar is the Executive Director of the DMZ and the Chief Executive Officer of DMZ Ventures. Responsible for the strategic direction and continued growth of both organizations, he leads in supporting Canada’s most promising startups scale their companies. Under his leadership, the DMZ was ranked the number one university-based incubator in the world by UBI global.