2021 Trends and Predictions

January 22, 2021


Each fall, I start to track some of the trends I think are going to influence the new year. Fall 2020 did not disappoint. The events of last year sparked changes to where, how and why we do business. This experience will no doubt leave its fingerprints for years to come. Here are a few of the 2021 trends I’m following right now.

The Reimagined Workspace

The pandemic changed the definition of the office in the U.S. and around the world. As some people begin to approach a year of working from home, I expect we’re going to see lasting changes to how we view the workplace. Beyond the physical changes to where we work, I imagine the integration of work, family and leisure will also be forever changed. Check out this article from Chief Executive for more on the ‘reimagined workspace.’  

The Human Economy

Just a few years ago, business leaders, like BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, were starting to acknowledge the business and financial benefits of purposeful business. Today, the purpose movement combined with the events of 2020 are sparking what some call The Human Economy. This is a view that pushes forward businesses who prioritize people and relinquishes the idea of business at the expense of humanity. It is meant to spark business innovation to help address some of our greatest human crises. 

Social Impact Integration

Another great 2021 trend I’ve started to notice is social impact integration. This trend is a new iteration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and a key to operationalizing your purpose. Research shows consumers are 4 times more likely to purchase products from organizations whose beliefs and values align with their own. Brand integration is a great way to align what you believe and what you do. The #ProudParent campaign from Oreo and PFLAG is a great example.

A Social Alternative?

In 2020, I deleted the Facebook and Apple News apps from phone. After watching the documentary The Social Dilemma, I wanted more control over the content I was consuming. Most people may not have gone this far. However, I do believe we could be approaching a tipping point. Particularly as more and more social media creators and engineers speak out about these tools. I am also starting to see signs the market reacting. More people are exploring new social channels and tools for managing their communities.

An Online Service Revolution

New uses of technology during the pandemic are creating lasting disruptions, which will continue to transform business in 2021. Digital technology has changed our recruiting boundaries and made us rethink our real estate needs. It introduced more people to online ordering, touchless shopping and digital learning. Advancements in telemedicine have created new options for senior citizens, those with disabilities and in mental health. 


Someone commented recently the White House website now allows for people to choose Mx. as a prefix. If you’re not familiar, Mx. is gender neutral and allows you to choose not to be identified by gender. Seeing this reminded me of the final – and maybe most important – of our 2021 trends: inclusion. As I look at different trends that could shape business in 2021, recognizing and changing discriminatory, racist or noninclusive norms in our companies, cultures and conversations could have the greatest positive impact.

What other 2021 trends are you seeing? Drop us a note below.




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Karen Bailey is a brand purpose consultant and specializes in helping companies define their purpose and align their business around it. In 2017, she launched the blog, Purpose Greater Than Profit, to start a meaningful conversation about the increasingly important role of brand purpose, purposeful leadership and a better way of doing business.


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