The workplace has changed over the period and will continue changing with some of the major contributors being an entrant of a whole new generation in the workplace, technologies, globalization, mobility, and new attitudes…not forgetting that 2021 was more volatile than expected, with the rise of new Covid variants, a massive war for talent, quit rates at an all-time high, and the highest inflation levels in a generation.
The level of volatility will only increase in 2022 and beyond. Hybrid work will create more unevenness around where, when, and how much different employees are working. Many employees will be greeted with real wage cuts as annual compensation increases fall behind inflation.
These realities will be layered on top of longer-term technological transformation, and ongoing political disruption and uncertainty.
it’s evident that we cannot fully predict the future, but here are some underlying trends that we think will shape the workplace of the future in 2022 and beyond.
With hybrid and remote work becoming the new trend in the workplace, the manager-employee relationship has become more important than ever.
Managers are now in the first line in surfacing and elevating fairness concerns and can make the difference between a highly public walkout or a co-created solution to employee concerns.
At the same time, HR tech vendors have been creating products that replace an increasing number of repeatable managerial tasks, such as scheduling, approving expense reports, and monitoring direct reports’ completion of tasks.
The next generation of technology will start to replace additional managerial tasks, such as providing performance feedback and supporting employees in building new peer-to-peer connections.
According to Havard Business Review, research shows that up to 65% of the tasks that a manager currently does has the potential to be automated by 2025.
With this growth in automation, companies will be faced with a choice: decrease the number of managers or change the expectations of what it means to be a manager.
Organizations that choose to change the expectations for their managers will need to change managers’ mindsets and skill sets from managing tasks to managing the full experience of employees.
This goes beyond managing employees’ specific responsibilities and extends to managing their perception of their career trajectories, the impact of work on their personal lives, and their relationship with the organization as a whole. While this shift may slow attrition, it requires substantially empowering managers.
When work becomes more geographically dispersed, managers have less insight into what work their employees are doing.
This leads to inaccurate and potentially biased performance ratings based upon where employees work rather than the impact they are having.
A Gartner survey of nearly 3,000 managers revealed that 64% of managers and executives believe in-office employees are higher performers than remote employees, and 76% believe in-office workers are more likely to be promoted.
Moving forward, the same tools that employees are currently using to work in a virtual environment will be used to assess the contributions that employees are making.
For example, during virtual meetings, new technologies will be able to provide background information about the other people on the call. By knowing more about who is on the call, participants will be able to focus on the issues that are of the most important to them.
Collaboration technology can also nudge employees to behave in different ways that improve the overall set of interactions across employees.
The complexity of managing a hybrid workforce will drive some employers to require a return to the office.
More than 90% of employers are planning to adopt a hybrid working model for their knowledge workers in 2022.
While that will define the start of the year, we expect that there will be numerous high-profile companies that change course and demand that employees return, full time, to the office.
However, organizations that implement a hard return to the office will quickly find that the challenges that they were facing were due to other underlying factors. Demanding employees to return to the office will only further exacerbate turnover rates.
In 2022, organizations will adopt new employee well-being measures that capture the financial health, mental health, and physical health of their employees to more accurately predict employee performance and retention.
For years, executives have experimented with different metrics, such as employee satisfaction or engagement, to understand their employees. In 2022, organizations will add in new measures that assess their mental, physical, and financial health.
Many companies expanded the wellness support they provided to their employees in the wake of the pandemic.
However, there has been limited uptake of programs such as mental health programs, and physical and financial programs by employees. Across the last 12 months, however, data from Harvard Business Review shows that less than 40% of employees have taken advantage of any well-being offering provided by their employer.
Employee turnover might continue to increase as hybrid and remote work become the norm for knowledge workers
Flexibility around how, where, and when people work is no longer a differentiator, it’s now table stakes. Employees expect flexibility within their job as much as they expect. Remember the Great Resignation Employers that don’t offer flexibility will see increased turnover as employees move to roles that offer a value proposition that better aligns with their desires.
Unfortunately for many organizations, increasing flexibility will not slow turnover in today’s tight labor market; in fact, turnover will increase, for two reasons.
First, there will be weaker forces keeping employees in their seats. Employees that work hybrid or remotely have fewer friends at work and thus weaker social and emotional connections with their coworkers.
These weaker connections make it easier for employees to quit their job by reducing the social pressure that can encourage employees to stay longer.
Second, there will be stronger forces enticing employees away as the pool of potential employers increases. With hybrid and remote work as the norm, the geographic radius of the organizations that someone can work for also expands.
Over the period, as more organizations adopt hybrid and remote workstyles, we will also experience a rise in the demand of flexible workspaces such as coworking spaces.
This widespread ability to work from anywhere has resulted in the number of people working from home doubling, and 2020 saw the greatest rise in adoption of home working yet, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the dominance of digital platforms doesn’t just accommodate home working. It’s also facilitating the rise of flexible workspaces such as Nairobi Garage.
Given the current COVID-19-influenced circumstances, however, the rate of change in the way we work has sped up. The cost of choosing a coworking space is usually in the form of a monthly membership fee which will include the use of equipment, office features, and other facilities. Making it easy for more organizations to opt for this model.