The shifts brought about by the global pandemic will likely have a long-lasting impact on our workforce. Over the past year+, businesses have prioritized shifting to full-time remote offices or hybrid workplaces, managing hybrid workforces, determining how best to support employees’ well-being, and other concerns. Far beyond a pandemic-era Band-Aid, much of the workplace change and innovation that has risen – or accelerated – during the pandemic is permanently reshaping the workplace and how we work.
While technology advances and processes change, many organizations and businesses are moving to digital and hybrid workplaces. The modern workplace continues to evolve to meet the needs of both employees and employers. These changes are influencing new workplace trends that will continue to shape how organizations design offices, hire talent, make technology decisions, collaborate both within the office and outside of the workplace, and more.
6 Workplace Trends You Need To Know About
Although we can’t predict the future, here are six workplace trends that we believe will shape the workplace, as well as tips and tools your business can utilize to prepare for them.
1. Decentralization of the Office (Work from Anywhere)
A significant workplace trend is the decentralization of the office. This trend may include a variety of office models, including an office environment where employees can work from anywhere – the office, home, coworking spaces, or other remote locations, a hub-and-spoke model of smaller satellite offices that are more convenient for your team, or other decentralized workplace plans. Decentralizing the office provides many benefits – such as providing your employees with accessibility, flexibility, and convenient places to work – and reduces your company’s physical footprint. A decentralized office also cuts down on your employees’ commute time if they choose to work at home, a closer satellite office, or a convenient coworking space.
The decentralization of the office space lends itself to a hybrid work model. Decentralization refers to a work style that allows for a blend of working locations for your employees to be at home, in the office, or on the go. A hybrid model encourages flexibility, autonomy, and higher performance from your employees. The hybrid workplace is changing collaboration among many companies and is a rising trend that will have a lasting impression on the workplace.
As the decentralized workforce trends, so do virtual office tools to support this workplace style. If your company is moving to a virtual office setup, it is essential to have the right tech tools to help you connect and work with remote employees, no matter the distance. Some vital tech tools to consider include:
- A project management tool to plan, execute and control all aspects of your projects.
- A video conferencing tool for meeting with both in-office and remote employees.
- An instant messaging tool so your organization can ensure everyone is on the same page.
- A cloud storage system or VPN access to the company’s network storage so remote workers are able to access everything they need.
While the decentralized workplace opens the door for many opportunities and more flexibility, remote work isn’t without its own set of challenges. There are vast tech tools available for your business to thrive in a digitalized or hybrid workplace while still connecting and engaging with your employees.
2. Rise of Digital Nomadism
The growth of digital nomadism is another workplace trend on the rise due to many companies implementing ‘’work from anywhere’’ options for their employees. The term digital nomads refers to people who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and have an office anywhere as long as an Internet connection is available. Digital nomads have shifted work from home (WFH) to work from anywhere (WFX), allowing the ability to travel and explore while working.
According to MBO Partners’ 2020 State of Independence research study, 10.9 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads. This number is nearly a 50% increase from their 2019 study. Now more than ever, digital nomads tend to feel more comfortable mixing their travel destinations with work. Many digital nomads are shifting to working permanently from the road.
The rise of a digital nomad workforce lends itself to new products, trends, and tech tools to better facilitate a nomadic work style. A popular product for many digital nomads is a wireless router that acts as a mobile wifi hotspot. Products, like MiFi devices, can be used as a connection to create a mini wireless broadband cloud or hotspot. This technology is shared between mobile and Internet-enabled devices in many countries. Another significant trend of digital nomadism is Airbnb stays rising to 28 days or longer.
Digital nomads rely on many tech tools, including travel-friendly mobile hotspots and open-source Internet coffee shops or shared workspaces. Digital nomadism is amplified due to the pandemic, but the workplace trend will continue to grow as alternative work styles become more acceptable for businesses across the globe.
3. Smarter Workplaces
A progressing workplace trend is that our workplaces are getting smarter. Workplace technology is constantly improving to meet the needs of our changing work environment. New computer applications, artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics software allow your company’s employees to work seamlessly with technology that enhances the work environment and provides the data your company needs to continuously improve and optimize your workplace.
Many trending computer applications and technologies improve the workplace. As organizations embrace remote and hybrid work models, video cameras have become a vital technology, playing an essential role in our shift to a digital workplace. Beyond the very important role of connecting us through video conferencing, cameras are also playing an increasing role in workplace analytics, including analytics driven by camera-based occupancy counting and other metrics. Cameras will continue to be a technology that will help all team members “see” and understand each other in a hybrid or remote workspace.
The application of artificial intelligence has enhanced the workplace by facilitating more automation for organizations and employees. Artificial intelligence in the workplace magnifies productivity gains, new forms of value, and higher efficiency in the work environment. While many people think of manufacturing robots and self-driving cars when they hear “AI” – and these are certainly examples – more commonly, workplaces will see increased use in applications like recruiting matching, chatbots, and analytics-driven meeting space recommendations. In digitalized and hybrid offices, AI and automation will help to reshape and optimize the workplace.
A more innovative workplace means that data plays a vital role in your workplace collaboration. Your company’s workplace or meeting space can be analyzed using a workplace analytics tool to collect unique data and insights that your company can leverage to optimize your work environment. This data can also be used to inform your decision-making process for improving company performance. Emerging technology helps create a more intelligent workplace and can provide a roadmap for many improvements for your company and employee workplace capabilities in the future.
4. Professionalization of the Home Office
As employees move to a remote work environment, the need for workplace technology in a home office setup continues to increase. According to an AV Interactive 2020 survey, cameras, headsets, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)/Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) technology were the most purchased tech tools to help employees collaborate more efficiently in a home office.
Professional equipment for conducting meetings is vital for creating an effective work-from-home environment for employees. Some companies have chosen to remain completely remote, which means that a functioning home office is critical. Many companies have also implemented a stipend for home office needs, like a desk, chair, or even a reimbursement for an employee’s monthly Internet bill.
Professionalizing your employee’s home office is necessary if your business offers a remote work option. Your company needs to consider what professional tools are needed to sustain a work-from-home environment and navigate the best way to support your employees with the increasing trend of a professional home office setup.
5. Growth in Bring Your Own Meeting
Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) is a growing workplace trend that will have a lasting impact on our workforce. BYOM is defined as a meeting space solution in which the user controls the meeting and room technology using their own device. For example, a user could walk into a BYOM-enabled space and use their own laptop to host a meeting using any video conference application installed on their laptop. The room technology – including mics, cameras, and audio – is automatically bridged to the meeting and remote participants, no room panel, touchscreen, dongles, or other touch points are needed to launch the meeting.
Bring Your Own Meeting solutions enable workers to use their preferred conferencing tool to communicate, an increasingly important capability for digitalized workplaces at a time when video conferencing options continue to expand.
There are a few factors of BYOM that make it an impactful workplace trend to take notice. First, when you use your own device at work, you are more productive. Second, we all have a preferred conferencing solution — a tool with a user experience that appeals to us or fits closely with our working style. Third, equipment that is difficult to operate or that you don’t understand can hinder a meeting. BYOM technology allows your employees to use the devices and conferencing applications they are most familiar with using.
6. Increased Mental Health and Wellness Benefits
A focus on mental health and wellness has become a massive trend for many businesses. In this new normal, companies have increased their efforts for mental health support for their employees. The pandemic has brought well-being to the forefront as organizations are more aware than ever of the impact of mental health on employees and, by association, the workplace.
According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, 80% of respondents identified well-being as one of the highest-ranking trends needed for a company’s success. Mental health and well-being continue to be at the forefront of company leaders’ minds as COVID-19 cases continue and employees’ physical health and safety remain a top priority regardless of whether employees return to work or work remotely.
In years to come, companies will go even further by de-stigmatizing mental health and well-being by offering more mental health benefits, creating days where the entire company takes a collective “mental health day” to build awareness across the workforce. Potential employees will also take mental health and well-being benefits into account when choosing what company they want to work for in the future.
How Will the Workplace Continue to Shift?
Many workplace trends are changing the work experience of employees and employers alike. The pandemic forced many businesses to shift to stay afloat, and with those pivots came innovations to support their workforce. As we anticipate future workplace trends, it’s clear that the workplace will require us to continue to adapt and change as organizations move to a more digital-savvy workforce to best meet the challenges ahead. While every office environment has different needs, as you prepare to move into 2022, we believe that understanding the trends above and implementing the solutions that best fit your office needs will be critical as we move toward the workplace of the future.
How is your organization responding to changing workplace trends? See below for more resources.