2017 has been a busy year for most of us and you will agree that it certainly seems to have passed by us so quickly.
The year saw the emergence of several technology developments and influences in the workplace – and some of these we reckon will morph into trends/practices that will shape and influence the future of work in the years to come. Here, we discuss some of the top workplace trends that companies will embrace in 2018 –
1. Increased personal interaction
Business today is extremely fast paced, and companies see the benefit in driving increased human interaction and direct communications to strengthen co-worker relationships. They see that when employees meet every day to work together, they acquire a shared experience of issues and challenges, and therefore work effectively at problem resolution and decision making. And with improved decision making capabilities and resources around to execute ideas quickly, quality processes and systems get embedded in the workplace with greater ease.
In view of the benefits they bring, several companies today are favouring increased human interaction and reconsidering telecommuting and remote work arrangements within their teams (eg. IBM). In addition, they are also pushing for innovative design of workspaces to increase everyday interaction and cooperativeness within their teams (eg. Apple and Google).
2. Focus on workspace design
Workspace design is gaining increased prominence and many companies have begun setting up informal workspaces and cafes to spark creativity, ideation and cohesiveness among co-workers. HR leaders recognise that Gen Zs and Millennials in the workforce prefer one-on-one and in-person conversations as against technology tools such as e-mail systems to discuss and exchange ideas at the workplace. As a result, they are driving informal workspace design and shared spaces such as Cafés to drive greater interaction within their workforce. With purpose built spaces designed to aid co-workers to meet and connect with each other in the physical work environment, employees build relationships quickly and are working better to influence positive outcomes.
3. Re-thinking the role of traditional learning and credentials needed for work
Continued education and learning for adults is a space that has been considerably disrupted today, thanks to the abundant availability of online learning platforms such as edX, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and Udacity.
Increased access to online courses and learning platforms is helping employees to be more self directed and take greater control and ownership over what and when they want to learn. And many young adults are now looking to totally forego a traditional college degree in favour of gaining relevant learning and skills from quality online courses delivered at a lower cost by reputed universities. Accordingly, employers are taking an increasingly open and accommodating view of different types of credentials, and using the approach to gain access to wider and diverse talent pools.
4. Artificial intelligence will become more relevant and valuable in the workplace.
Technology products and services are becoming increasingly smart as Artificial Intelligence (AI) finds its relevance everywhere. Companies will increasingly adopt AI tools such as Chatbots to drive conversations and connect across employee groups. Chatbots deployed in the workplace will drive employee services such as personal assistants, on-demand customer support and data mining. Besides, they will help streamline business processes and drive responses/ actions that cater to employee queries and needs.
Companies such as Intel and Overstock are already using chatbots to offer employee information and HR virtual assistant services, and given the efficiencies they bring, it is likely many employers will follow suit.
5. Increasing attention on employee wellness
Employers around the world are now more participative and involved in protecting employee wellness. They take cognizance of the fact that when employees feel both physically and mentally healthy, they engage and contribute better at work.
Particularly, mental health is being discussed more openly in the workplace and several companies are finding ways to help employees cope better with anxiety, depression, ADHD and related conditions. Also, to increase awareness and de-stigmatise mental health issues at the workplace, they are enabling support services such as 24X7 employee counseling and days off for improved mental health. In the long run, such practices will help prevent employee burnout, increase productivity and engagement, and reduce attrition levels.
6. Align workforce decisions with consumer behavior
Recent studies highlight that customers today support and endorse brands that align with their values and beliefs, and also correlate positive employee and candidate experience with improved consumer behavior and revenue fulfillment.
Business and HR leaders are responding by designing customer and candidate experience that will help win loyal influencers for life, and using big data applications to understand and predict behaviour better and draw positive connections that will create long term impact.
We are excited to learn and understand how some of these workplace trends will play out through the course of 2018, and how companies will adopt these to engage and influence their key stakeholders. So which of these trends and practices are you looking to adopt at the workplace? And what steps do you believe will help shape processes and systems to drive readiness, acceptance and positive outcomes in the long run?