Future Of Work: 5 Trends that will shape the 2022 workplace
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Here are five work trends Bernard Marr – one of the world’s most successful social media influencers at the intersection of business and technology is seen emerging this year which he believes will have an influence on the workplace going forward.
1. Hybrid working
When it comes to where we work, there will continue to be three main models – centralized workplaces, decentralized remote organizations, and the hybrid “best of both worlds” approach. What’s likely to change in 2022 is that it’s more likely that we, as workers, will have the choice rather than being forced to align with whatever model your organization has chosen out of necessity.
Organizations are clearly undergoing a change in their relationship with the idea of a centralized workplace. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, 69% of large companies expected an overall decrease in the amount of office space they would be using, according to research by KPMG.
A report recently commissioned by video messaging platform Loom found that 90% of employees surveyed – including workers and managers – are happier with the increased freedom they now have to work from home, suggesting that this is likely to be a trend that is here to stay as we move into 2022.
2. AI-augmented workforce
The World Economic Forum predicts that AI and automation will lead to the creation of 97 million new jobs by 2025. However, people working in many existing jobs will also find their roles changing, as they are increasingly expected to augment their own abilities with AI technology. And in engineering and manufacturing roles, workers will increasingly have access to technology that helps them understand how machinery works and predict where breakdowns are likely to happen.
3. Staffing for resilience
Pre-pandemic, the priority was generally to have been to hire staff that would create efficient organizations. Mid and post-pandemic, the emphasis has shifted firmly in the direction of resilience. Whereas built-in redundancy or overlaps in skills might previously have been seen as inefficient, today, it’s seen as a sensible precaution.
This certainly encompasses another sub-trend, which is that employers are coming to understand the critical importance of building employee healthcare and wellbeing (including mental health) strategies into their game plan. Many are now trying to take more responsibility for helping their workforce maintain physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. A challenge here that companies will come up against in 2022 is finding ways to do this that hit objectives without being overly intrusive or invasive of employees’ privacy and personal lives.
4. Less focus on roles, more focus on skills
Gartner says, “To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles – which group unrelated skills – than on the skills needed to drive the organization’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel this advantage.”
Skills are critical because they address core business challenges, with the competencies needed in a workforce to overcome those challenges. Roles, on the other hand, describe the way individual members of a workforce relate to an overall organizational structure or hierarchy. We’ve certainly seen this trend gestating for some time, with the move towards more “flat” organizational structures as opposed to strictly hierarchical teams with a direct reporting, chain-of-command approach to communication and problem-solving. By focussing on skills, businesses address the fact that solving problems and answering their core business questions is the key to driving innovation and success within information-age enterprises.
5. Employee monitoring and analytics
Controversial though it may be, research shows that employers are increasingly investing in technology designed to monitor and track the behavior of their employees in order to drive efficiency. Platforms such as Aware that allow businesses to monitor behavior across email and tools such as Slack in order to measure productivity, are being seen as particularly useful by managers overseeing remote workforces. It builds on functionality created by earlier products such as Hitachi’s Business Microscope that tracked movements of staff around physical office blocks and could be used to monitor, among other things, how often bathroom breaks were taken, and which workers spend the most amount of time talking to others as opposed to sitting at their workstation.
While the level of disruption may have plateaued to a certain degree, things are always changing and these trends are sure to have an impact on the workplace for many years to come.
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