In today's rapidly changing world, it's hard to predict what will happen even just a few years from now. But when it comes to the workplace, understanding future trends can help you stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for what's to come. Here are some workplace trends experts say we can expect to see in 2022 and beyond.
Keep in mind that these are just predictions - nothing is set in stone!
What Should You Expect to See in the Workplace in 2022?
Here are some of the trends that we predict will become commonplace by 2022:
Hybrid and Remote Working
Due to the pandemic, many companies have allowed their employees to work from home (at least part-time). While there was initial skepticism about whether or not this would be successful (it was difficult to keep the workers connected with each other and with the company’s goals and visions), most companies have found that it can actually increase productivity and save on costs like office space leases and commuting expenses.
In 2022, most workers are reluctant to return to the office as remote working provides flexibility and freedom that they didn’t know was possible. Therefore, organizations will have to find an approach that allows their employees to keep their newfound freedom and gives them control over their work-life. Hybrid working is the best of both worlds, where workers go in a few days of the week and work from home for the rest. Even then, organizations will have to consider giving employees the choice of when to go into the office and when to work from home if they hope to retain their talent.
Focus on Skills Rather than Role
The most effective workers are those who are skilled at their jobs. Skill is what allows them to be able to answer an organization’s business questions and provide solutions. The role indicates the relationship a worker has with the organization. This has changed over time, with newer companies adopting more of a flat structure.
When you allow employees to grow their skills rather than their abilities to carry out their roles, they have more career options, and they’re much more of an asset to the organization.
Increased use of Automation and AI
Many jobs that human workers currently do can be done more efficiently and cheaply by machines, so businesses are increasingly turning to automation and AI to replace human workers.
AI will initially be used to take care of repetitive tasks at the job, leaving workers to deal with the more human aspects such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking. Eventually, automation will force organizations to reimagine roles and reskill internally because it’ll be cheaper than hiring new employees.
Difficulty Retaining Talent
The pandemic forced people to rethink their priorities, leading to many people quitting their jobs. Other factors such as fast economic expansion and skill mismatch have also contributed to a talent shortage for organizations everywhere. Technological advancement will only widen this gap because it’s not enough for employees to get a job, but it has to be a job they care about. Therefore, organizations are in a race to secure and retain talent.
Offering incentives such as work-life flexibility, benefits, bonuses, etc., is one way to retain talent. Some may even shorten the workweek in place of increasing pay. Organizations can also make their hiring practices more inclusive in order to tap into a wider talent pool. Short of hiring new employees, organizations can also reskill and upskill existing employees to fill in the gaps.
Transparency and Accountability
In a world of ever-growing connectivity and social media, transparency and accountability are becoming more important than ever. This trend is already starting to take hold in the business world as employees and customers alike demand to know what's going on behind the scenes.
In the wake of major shifts in public opinions, workers and society will be looking to hold leaders and organizations accountable. It will no longer be enough for organizations to create policies and mandates without follow-through. This will be crucial to talent retention and more so to profit.
Companies will be judged based on how well they live up to their promises. Therefore, organizations will have to be transparent about things like diversity, inclusion, equity, being open about financials, and sharing information about products and services.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in the Workplace
There's no doubt that diversity, equity, and inclusion will continue to be important issues in the workplace in 2022 and beyond. As our society becomes more diverse, workplaces must reflect that diversity. We need to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background or identity.
DE&I initiatives can help create a more positive and productive work environment for everyone, and employers who don't prioritize these efforts will likely find themselves at a disadvantage. We can expect to see more companies implementing DE&I programs and policies next year, as well as increasing their investment in training and resources to support these initiatives.
There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that businesses with more diverse and inclusive workforces perform better financially and are better able to attract top talent. A 2015 study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians; this is because of the variety in opinion and perspective.
A Rise in Wellness-Focused Workplaces
Wellness-focused workplaces are becoming an increasingly popular trend, especially among millennials. People are increasingly looking for jobs that offer them a good work-life balance and that allow them to improve their well-being.
A growing number of companies are beginning to see the importance of employee wellness and are implementing policies and programs that promote healthy lifestyles. This trend is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing cost of healthcare, the aging workforce, and the rise of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Employers are starting to realize that they need to do more to support the health and well-being of their employees if they want to retain them.
Employees who work in a wellness-focused workplace are typically happier, have lower stress levels, and experience less burnout. They are also more productive and have better mental clarity. On the company side, having a wellness-focused workplace result in lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, and reduced turnover rates.
Some of the most popular strategies for creating a wellness-focused workplace include offering health and fitness benefits, offering health screenings and other preventive care services, providing wellness education programs and resources, promoting workplace stress reduction initiatives, offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for mental health support, providing healthy food options, establishing walking or biking paths on company property, childcare, fitness centers and providing workspace amenities that will enforce wholesome routines like adjustable standing desks, adjustable chairs, Under Desk Bikes and Underdesk Treadmills.
Emphasis on Soft Skills
Working virtually has forced employees to try and develop their soft skills. Seeing as how the future of work will include some variation of remote working, emphasis on soft skills will continue to increase. The need to be able to collaborate with colleagues virtually, work under no supervision, and problem solve has forced soft skills to the forefront. Organizations will need to upskill their employees and rethink leadership roles. Soft skills may be difficult to quantify, but they are necessary for building high-performance teams.
Growth of the Gig Economy
The gig economy has been on a steady rise for the last few years. Its market size is expected to grow up to $455 billion by 2023, according to Mastercard. The gig economy comprises three things; the worker, the consumer, and the platform that connects them. With the renewed focus on skills rather than roles, more and more workers are becoming completely self-employed or freelancing on the side using these platforms.
Advances in technology have allowed workers to sell their talents to whomever. Being self-employed in this way will enable workers to choose their clients, work from anywhere and have flexibility in their hours. It’s difficult for organizations to compete with these advantages, which is why employee well-being has to become a priority.
Additionally, smaller companies that cannot compete with their larger counterparts can access a wide range of expertise on these platforms resulting in significant savings.
A More Collaborative and Social Work Environment
By 2022, the trend of working in a social and collaborative environment is expected to be the norm. With advances in technology that allow for better communication and collaboration tools, more companies are moving towards this type of work structure.
This means that employers will focus on creating spaces where employees can interact and work together to achieve common goals. This change is being driven by the need for businesses to compete in a global market. In order to stay ahead, companies realize that they need to create an environment where employees can share ideas and work collaboratively.
This trend is also being driven by the rise of millennials in the workforce. Millennials are known for their preference for collaboration and social interaction. As they take over more leadership positions, we can expect to see more workplaces that emphasize teamwork and collaboration.
Increase in Sustainable Practices
As the world becomes increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment, sustainable practices are likely to become more commonplace in the workplace. With the overwhelming evidence of climate change and its negative effects on both the environment and human health, employers are beginning to see the importance of implementing sustainable policies and practices in their workplaces. As more and more companies adopt sustainable policies, it's likely that this trend will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond.
What might this look like?
1. Adaptation of Climate positive workstations and sustainable practices-As awareness of the importance of sustainability grows, more and more businesses will incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. This could include anything from investing in renewable energy, adopting green supply chains, using recycled materials to implementing energy-efficient processes, using energy-efficient technology, powering down equipment when not in use, and choosing environmentally friendly transportation options, etc.
2. Consumers will increasingly seek out sustainable products and services. As sustainability becomes more important to consumers, they will seek out businesses that offer sustainable products and services. This could lead to an increase in demand for eco-friendly products and green services.
So if you're looking to get ahead of the curve, start thinking about how your business can become more sustainable. It could be a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract environmentally conscious consumers.
It's evident that many workplace trends will continue to dominate in 2022. These include the rise of social and collaborative work environments, sustainable practices becoming more commonplace, increased use of AI and an increase in remote working, etc. These changes are being driven by advances in technology, the rise of millennials in the workforce, and the changing needs of businesses as they compete in a global market.
What does this mean for you? If you're looking to stay ahead of the curve in the coming years, it's important to keep abreast of these trends and find ways to incorporate them into your business. By doing so, you'll be well-positioned to capitalize on the changes that are happening in the workplace and stay ahead of your competitors.