How 2020 Workplace Trends will Impact 2021

Re-Visiting 2020 Workplace Trends

January 26, 2021

There is no question that innovation in technology both drives and is driven by business trends. Profitability and the necessity of adapting to customer needs have a major influence on how technology evolves.  When the needs of the market shift dramatically, the tech industry is pushed to provide new solutions within a condensed timeline. 2020 was one such year where unexpected challenges completely changed the landscape for many industries. Some of these changes may be temporary but others will have a far-reaching effect.


There will likely always be some need to remotely meet with customers or clients, but as our sales team can tell you, in-person meetings are a key part of the sales cycle. The technical challenges of video conferencing such as dropped calls, blurry cameras, background noise, distract from the process of getting to know your customer’s needs. Indeed, how can you assess on-site challenges without being able to see them yourself? A FaceTime walkthrough is often not enough to get to the heart of the problem. Tangentially, building a strong business relationship is often easier face to face. If you’re meeting over lunch or a round of golf, it can be more fun as well. There is a natural flow to in-person meetings where the conversation doesn’t feel timed (perhaps you too have caught yourself watching the minutes tick up on a Zoom call). Genuine connections are easier to form when you are sharing the same physical space and can watch for and adapt to body language cues. Sometimes there just isn’t a good substitute for an on-site training or sales pitch and although teleconferencing will remain a key business tool, it cannot replace meeting in-person.  


In the longterm, social distancing, daily temperature checks, and stringent mask-wearing are not sustainable practices. At the moment, the benefits outweigh the risks, but it’s not realistic to expect daily medical screenings to continue indefinitely. Apart from the discomfort of wearing a mask, social interactions are greatly improved by seeing the other person’s face. The ability to read someone’s lips and pick up subtle social cues from their expression are essential components of communication. For now, masks are an essential part of the strategy to keep our communities safe and minimize the transmission of COVD-19. Going forward, occasional mask wearing for those who are immunocompromised or for people who have minor transmissible illnesses like the common cold will likely continue. The fact that the benefits of masks are being studied and that they are now more socially acceptable will benefit many going into the flu seasons to come. However, the social nature of people will likely win out and with time, stringent sanitation, mandatory temperature checks, and other social distancing practices will wane.  


Virtually delivered content and experiences are more relevant than ever. The fact that they have a wider reach and can be cheaper to deliver is reason enough to continue adding digital offerings to your catalog. From Telehealth appointments and online learning courses to museum tours and concerts, there is a wide gamut of services that can now be reliably experienced digitally. Last year many businesses were pushed to adapt their strictly in-person delivery model for an audience that was primarily staying home. Enticing an audience who won’t even visit your building is a challenge, and as a result, many businesses had to get creative with how they attracted and converted customers. Similarly, conferences that once cost thousands in airfare, lodging, and incidentals to attend have made streaming their content to virtual ticket holders a priority. The accessibility of these virtual experiences combined with the fact that the technology to access/deliver them (i.e. augmented reality tools, faster internet, and superior cameras) is consistently improving likely means they will be added as permanent offerings for many businesses.


Without cloud tools 2020 would have been an even greater challenge. Working and learning remotely without online dashboards or centrally accessible content would have been almost impossible for many. Another stand out was online forms and contracts. With secure, online forms through platforms like DocuSign, paperwork is more transparent, easier to navigate, and effortless to sign. Mobile forms allow businesses to directly track action items within their content and to gather performance metrics as well. Businesses produce massive amounts of data every day and keeping it organized can be a challenge. With online documents, consistency is key to staying on track. Everyone must have access to the latest version so everyone is collaborating with the same information. Cloud-based content management platforms have the auditing tools required to ensure document integrity, allow collaboration within a single document (vs emailing multiple versions back and forth), and protect from data loss due to a disaster. Electronic content management is here to stay and as many businesses have discovered over 2020 when they were forced to minimize in-office contact, now is the perfect time to make the transition. 


Flexible benefits and workplace culture have grown in importance to people who are seeking jobs. The newest wave of talent to enter the workforce was raised in a more connected, accessible world and predictably has different values than previous generations. To capture the interest of these tech-savvy job seekers, workplaces are re-thinking the benefits they offer. Allowing more flexible hours and enabling remote work for certain positions can save overhead and improve employee satisfaction. Cloud-based technologies make tasks like time-tracking, collaboration, video conferencing, and software access easy. Additionally, direct oversight is no longer necessary in many cases as productivity can be easily tracked with business intelligence tools. This eliminates the need for micromanagement but keeps team members accountable. Every day the barriers to remote work become easier to overcome and employees are being offered the freedom to live in more remote areas where they can experience more affordable living and better quality of life. Employers are likewise able to choose the best talent, regardless of where they are located resulting in a win-win situation for many. 

What Does the Future Look Like in 2021?

There are many business trends not covered within this scope of this article and things are still evolving. As the year progresses and the world strives to reach a new normal, it will become more apparent which trends are really here to stay. 2020’s challenges offered a unique look into how employee needs, consumer behavior, and technology interact. No one could have predicted that a global pandemic would suddenly, and perhaps irrevocably changed how many tried and true business models operate. As we move into 2021 we will begin to see if consumer tastes have changed for good or whether a return to business as usual is in order. 

How can DOMA help?

As a technology company, DOMA is prepared to answer the call to meet your changing needs. We specialize in information management and are focused on modernizing your business or federal agency with agile, cloud-based solutions. While 2020 was a challenging year for our team, we have emerged with greater insight into how to enable remote work with solutions like digital mailroom, mobile forms, and artificial intelligence tools. If you are interested in how we can leverage our own experience to empower your business reach out for a free demo or explore our solutions page

About DOMA- Powered by Tech, Driven by People

DOMA Technologies (DOMA) is a software development and digital transformation company whose mission is to change customer lives by lightening their workload through faster and more targeted access to their data. Since 2000, our team of 200+ experts has helped businesses navigate all aspects of the digital world. We are a dedicated strategic partner for the federal government and private sector clients at every stage of their unique digital transformation journey.

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Danielle Wethington
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