1. Greater adoption and inclusion of hybrid or remote opportunities
Although most companies were trying to return to the office in 2021, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and subsequent CDC mandates postponed many re-opening plans. However, 2022 looks promising for in-person work plans as infection rates grow stagnant in the US.
The prevalence of hybrid working will largely dictate how the office will look and be used throughout 2022. Many hybrid workforce employers are noticing that their physical space needs to hold value to employees. When work can be completed at home, employees need a reason to commute into the office.
According to a 2021 WeWork survey, 79% of C-suite executives plan to allow hybrid work opportunities for their employees into 2022, should their role allow for it. These hybrid structures can enable employees to work remotely while keeping a physical and centralized office.
To maximize autonomy and flexibility in the workplace, the physical office must serve a broader purpose than ‘a place to work’. As employers enable their employees to work from anywhere, they must also consider how to encourage employees to stay productive, efficient, and to want to come into the office.
2. Combating the Great Resignation
2021 birthed what many are calling the “Great Resignation.” A fitting name, the Great Resignation refers to the over 15 million people who have left their jobs since April 2021 in the US alone. Although the rate of resignations is forecasted to slow, experts expect 23% of currently employed workers to seek new jobs in 2022.
So, what does this mean for employers? It means that employers are under even more pressure to satisfy their employees and keep them happy. We expect that this will impact workspaces in three main ways:
– Greater emphasis will be placed on the design and amenities of the physical workspace to attract and retain employees.
– Enabling flexible and hybrid work will become a norm, not a rarity.
– Improved employee compensation, benefits, and amenities.
The Great Resignation is being semi-jovially deemed the “Great Renegotiation” as employers are fighting to keep employers seeking more significant compensation.
Although predictions can fall through, one thing is for sure; employers will have no choice but to up their game (within their physical space and compensations) to stay afloat during the upcoming employee-driven market.
3. AI & automation
The progression of AI and automation is constantly changing our world and how we work. Artificial intelligence and automation technologies have transformed the workspace throughout the last few decades, improving internal processes and maximizing departmental outputs.
Although advancements in autonomy in the workplace are typically a good thing, it’s worth noting that there are some significant pros and cons. A notable example is exchanging physical labor forces for an automated process that can help maximize a company’s revenue yet leave thousands jobless.
Albeit responsible for the displacement of labor jobs (i.e. manufacturing), the World Economic Forum predicts that AI and automation will create 97m new jobs by 2025 worldwide. Simultaneously, it is likely that AI and automation will change how many current jobs operate in the coming years, if not months. As new jobs are created by these technological forces, the reskilling of employees – instead of hiring new talent – will likely become a more efficient solution in 2022.
4. Neurodiversity and flexible spaces
As workspaces shift towards becoming more inclusive environments, companies are realizing that the office is no longer a simple means of employee containment. Instead, effective workspaces need to be designed (or re-designed) to serve its employees.
The 2022 workplace needs to become a flexible and neurodiverse environment. A flexible workspace is adaptable to different employee responsibilities. Congruently in this context, neurodiversity refers to the differences between how different people’s brains approach and interpret information.
Considering the robust impacts of physical space on work productivity and efficiency, having a strategic and intentional office design has never been more critical. Innovative workspaces should have a variety of areas, offering options tailored to different work styles and psychological needs. The results of intentionally implementing a neurodiverse and flexible workspace can be astounding by significantly increasing employee productivity and efficiency.
5. Sustainability and ESG initiatives
Over the years, sustainability and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) initiatives have not only risen in prevalence but are now considered a necessity by many. Many investors and conscientious consumers will overlook businesses that aren’t transparent about their ESG and sustainability metrics.
While many argue that tackling these initiatives is simply the right thing to do, 78% of C-Suite executives believe that ESG initiatives create a greater organizational and financial performance. To apply the pressure, big companies (such as Apple, Chipotle, and many more) are linking management pay to ESG efforts and incentivizing achievements.
Sustainability and ESG awareness is predicted to grow significantly in 2022, creating a more prominent investor and customer demographic dependent on accountability and compliance with these initiatives.
Many changes are in store for the workplace in 2022, and we anticipate that much of it will come from the future-of-work trends brought on by the automation and digitalization of work.
Although we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, one thing is sure – COVID-19 has spurred a workforce transformation that both employers and their workspace need to adapt to.