2020 threw individuals and businesses into an area of unknown and as a result, this year will see a shift in the roles companies are looking to recruit, the way individuals work, as well as an emergence of new roles and a surge in universities offering digital courses. Only agile and digitally savvy businesses have survived the storm so far, and will continue to do so.

The battle to keep ahead in an environment of rapid technological, market and consumer behaviour changes has caused businesses to rush to hire digital talent that has enabled them to shift the way they operate. As a result, we’ve seen a 100% increase in organisations looking to fill roles, in comparison to the same time last year, as organisations are desperate to strengthen their digital teams.

There are a number of key trends that we can expect to see in recruitment, ecommerce and digital marketing this year, as well as a shift in employee’s expectations of their employer, and it is safe to say that the majority have been spurred on by COVID-19:

A myth: this year will see ‘the death of the office’

The idea that we will never return to the office again is very overblown, however we are about to go through ‘The Commute Revolution’ and as a result there will be an acceleration to more flexible working. This will still involve working from home but also going into the office at staggered times in a bid to miss out the mass rush for a 9am start. The rise of flexibility in the workplace will create opportunities for multi-site, multinational business in terms of decreasing the amount spent on property and rent. As a result, it is likely we will see an emergence of new micro-office spaces across the country, particularly where retailers have moved out throughout 2020. 

Whether businesses had a working from home policy before or after the pandemic, it is likely businesses will offer at least double the number of days of remote working than they previously had in place. This is also going to be a particularly important factor employee’s look for when searching for a new role next year so it’s certainly something businesses looking for the very best talent should bear in mind.

We have a long way to go before relying on automation for talent acquisition

According to a CareerBuilder survey72% of employers believe that within the next 10 years some roles within talent acquisition will be automated. However, most businesses are a long way from completely wiping out roles and relying on automation for organisational design.

The only time a human recruiter can be replaced effectively is when a human role is replaced with technology. An experienced consultant is able to uncover an applicant’s suitability for the company, its culture and the role from the start, saving both the business and the candidate time and energy, something that technology doesn’t have the capability of doing at present. 

When there are skill shortages in a particular sector – such as the digital market – hiring the best – before the competition – can make a real difference when it comes down to overall business success. So, the businesses that are privy to a team of consultants who boast priceless depth of industry knowledge and mastery are guaranteed to have a competitive edge.

Universities will react to the lack of digital skills across the country

The pandemic has really highlighted the lack of digital skills across the country and it is very likely far more universities will be offering digital courses or white-collar apprenticeships to students starting further education this year. In addition, with young people being one of the hardest hit groups by the pandemic from an employment perspective, it is likely we will see this age group seek out routes that will ensure they are in a tech-focused role, in either ecommerce or digital marketing.

2021 – the year of ecommerce investment

Buoyed by 2020 growth in ecommerce and the wider economy not doing so well (compounded by low interest rates and the threat of negative interest rates) we will see a rush to invest in ecommerce related businesses. This naturally means we will see both over valuations and bad investments this year, as well as profitable ones as a result

The emergence of product roles at C-level

A particular trend our sister company, Hannington Tame, has noticed in recent months is the rise of product roles at C-level – from the customer experience on the website, to the way the customer journey is handled online and offline, all the way through to post-purchase and logistics. This role fits under a number of different titles including: Chief Digital Officer, Chief Customer Officer, CMO or CTO; however, this role is increasingly coming under a ‘product’ related C-level title and we expect to see an increase in companies hiring for product focused roles at c-level throughout 2021. 

It goes without saying that 2020 really did cause a shake up for businesses of all shapes and sizes and consequently, this year businesses will begin to really find their feet in their new operations. Businesses will need to be mindful of employee’s expectations in regard to the times they work as well as where they work from. Due to the acceptance of remote working and the use of tools such as Zoom or Slack, we are constantly talking to clients who are now much more agnostic about where someone lives, resulting a far more flexible hiring process.

The businesses that have invested significantly in shifting their operations will be keen to ensure they don’t go back to their old ways of operating and instead capitalise on the investments made throughout the pandemic. As a result, top digital talent is going to be crucial for businesses in 2021 – particularly those with more traditional business models – if they are to compete in very competitive markets with ever changing consumer demand.