Some of the possible ways the workplace will change in the next 10 years
Throughout the history of organizations there have always been restructurings in the way of both understanding and doing work. Such changes have always been due to two factors that have driven them: economic and social crises and technological innovation. Therefore, it is worth asking ourselves at this point in the year 2022 what is next for the office in the coming months and years. And what is clear is that we must not leave the future of work to chance.
From OUR EDITORIAL STAFF we have gone out there to see what is being cooked in the boards of directors and general directorates of the companies in terms of how they see work going to be in the next decade, both in terms of what each function that It is done in the position (type of work and inherent responsibilities) as well as the design of the space in which we are going to work.
The pandemic brought the future of work forward into the present, with the new work patterns we formed in the crisis becoming our next normal. Enabling a workplace that is innovative, inclusive and insightful requires a strategy to rethink how work gets done.
Current trends in business and technology show that the way employees work—where, when, why, and with whom—has changed and will continue to change for the next decade, bearing little resemblance to work today.
1º) Middle managers will have different responsibilities
Managers today must face new realities. We are facing day in and day out on a global level, social and political turmoil, but also the permanent desire for improvement of employees, for example, the fusion of work and personal life. But it is also necessary to add to these factors, the strong appearance of hybrid work that has added a new layer of complexity (and pressure) to the functions and responsibilities of workers.
Many employees work in a hybrid world with more choice about where, when, and how long they work. They feel they have the freedom of choice. In addition, the responsibilities of managers, and the number of workers reporting to them, have skyrocketed, making it more difficult to provide hands-on assistance. It is evident that the employee of current knowledge makes it easier for organizations and their middle managers in that these limitations to the possibilities of supervision are neutralized by their autonomy and decision-making capacity.
Traditional managerial success was based on the ability to manage and evaluate employee performance. This has changed. HR executives will hire and develop managers who are prepared to be excellent coaches and teachers, and who operate with empathy.
2º) The improvement of skills and digital dexterity will overcome permanence and experience
2.1. A higher value job
In the future, the highest value work will be cognitive in nature. Employees will need to apply creativity, critical thinking and constant digital updating to solve complex problems. The current demands of the economy go through always having new ideas, good information, accurate data to know the market, and especially, business models that continually expand, combine and transform into new companies. Employees must constantly update their digital skills to meet these needs. Employees of knowledge and also of greater digital skills.
2.2. The Human Resources management will have to establish and promote a continuous learning environment
This means that knowledge acquisition and transparency across the organization must become part of daily operations.
3º) The collection of employee data will be expanded
3.1. Constant monitoring on hybrid work
Hybrid working has fueled increased interest in monitoring workplace productivity and employee well-being. Analysis by the consulting firm Gartener in the United States shows that 16% of employers use technology most frequently to monitor their employees through methods such as virtual clocking in and out, tracking work computer use and monitoring of employee emails or internal chat/communications. While some companies track productivity, others focus on employee engagement and well-being to better understand the employee experience.
3.2. Workload Assessment
The technology will assess when people have worked too hard and when they need to recharge by tracking their biorhythms, nutritional requirements and exercise needs. Leaders will use technology and information to foster a hybrid workplace that encompasses the work styles of all employees, not just those who are permanently employed or have strong digital skills.
4º) Intelligent machines will be our colleagues
4.1. Smart machines are getting smarter
It is not only a question of more intelligence for machines, but of more omnipresence. This means that when previously it was believed that they completed tasks that were reserved for humans, it is now thought that they can do that human part that was believed could not be done by machines.
4.2. Companies will start to increase the functions of intelligent machines
This involves software, apps, and avatars. Employees will develop personal toolkits of virtual doppelgangers, virtual counterparts, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) software and devices that are more accessible for their personal or team activities. Additionally, they will have the ability to take their personal workplaces with them using cloud communities, open applications, and personal virtual assistants.
4.3. Extreme digital dexterity will ultimately be the modus operandi of how employees work
Increasing demands for a more automated workplace have led to the explosive combination of people and technology. Proactive leaders should investigate how the regular use of AI, intelligent software, and robots will strengthen the work strategy. To drive competitive advantage, high-performing employees should be encouraged to create and share AI tools or personalized portfolios of smart apps, tools, and technology to raise the bar for extreme digital prowess.
5º) We will work with purpose and passion, not just for money
Employees want to make a significant social impact, and they will do so earlier in life rather than waiting for retirement.
People will actively seek opportunities to link the impact and value of their work to their mission, purpose, and passions. Seeing others’ posts on social media will motivate them to get more involved and contribute to social innovation and equity.
Smart companies will become more attractive not only by paying higher wages, but also by offering employees the opportunity to make a significant impact. Create a message that resonates and drives engagement by creating initiatives for employees to submit personal stories, experiences and successes to various social causes.
6º) Remote work-life balance will reveal challenges
Employees working independently or in remote locations will be faced with a dilemma: To drive upskilling and manage better projects, they’ll take on more tasks, potentially to the point where they feel like they’re working 24 hours a day. In response, achieving work-life balance will no longer be enough; employees will strive to emphasize life over work.
But there are grim aspects of the future work-life balance. As technology bridges the gap between geographically separated people, it introduces cracks in relationships and cultures. The remote distribution of work means that many employees will not build the same social relationships in the workplace, leading to issues of disconnection and loneliness.
CEOs and HR leaders must work together to ensure that work-life balance swings back and forth for each employee as the distribution of work, time, and life stages change. . The ability to look to the future will make the job infinitely easier for HR leaders.
We are facing a time of opportunity for change
Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, believes that companies face an extraordinary opportunity for change. In “Redesigning Work” which was published in the United States last May, he bases his arguments on the fact that this transformation must be motivated by the technological, demographic and social needs that are shaping how, where and why. what we work, along with our learnings from the pandemic. She explains that, under normal circumstances, organizations are in a state of “freeze,” referring to a concept developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin, their culture, structure, and practices are fairly fixed. Typically, a business will “unfreeze” in its own time and in its own way in response to an external threat.
The pandemic led to a collective “unfreeze” and widespread thinking about how to respond to issues like wellness and connectivity.
Understanding as a basic step
While she lays out for Gratton a four-step design process that encompasses understanding; reinvention; modeling and testing; and act and create, the most crucial is the first. Why? Because understanding what matters means understanding the skills, networks, and jobs that are critical to productivity, as well as being very clear about how knowledge flows—what employees expect. This leads to the fact that throughout their lives people experience work at different moments of their existence. And this leads to the fact that doing things wrong in this moment of current and future work redesign, with implications for substantial changes in the workplace, can end up doing more harm than good.
However, Gratton admits that “frankly, we still don’t know” whether virtual interactions can replicate face-to-face encounters to share “the insights, the insights, the mental models, the ways of framing that are held in the minds of individuals and they are part of how they see and interact with the world.”
Other future unknowns include the availability and changing preferences of workers. For example, an organization that goes completely virtual may assume that there will be enough job seekers who prefer to work from home, but what if they then need to fish in a larger pond?
Before the pandemic, the conventional wisdom was that offices were critical to productivity
But they were not only to make companies more productive, but also to maintain a firm business philosophy and the policies they apply (their corporate culture), and not least, the fight for the search, at the same time as for the retention of talent.
Best office designs in the best places in the cities
Companies competed intensely for prime office space in major urban centers around the world, with many focusing on solutions seen as promoting collaboration. Densification, open office layouts, hospitality and co-working were the battle cries.
During the pandemic, many people were surprised by how quickly and effectively video conferencing technologies and other forms of digital collaboration were adopted. For many, the results have been better than imagined.
80% of employees like to work from home
According to McKinsey research, 80% of people surveyed report that they like working from home. 41% say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28% that they are just as productive. Many employees freed from long commutes and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time, enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, and decided they prefer to work from home over the office.
Fewer restrictions and more talent
Many organizations think they can access new pools of talent with fewer location restrictions, adopt innovative processes to increase productivity, create an even stronger culture, and significantly reduce real estate costs.
You have to design workspaces where people want to work again
It is certainly a way of retaining talent. Workplace trends that accelerated during the pandemic are not going away. Companies must seize this moment to improve office environments in a way that increases employee engagement and well-being, thereby encouraging attendance, further increasing well-being.
Well-being, flexibility and work-life balance are the most important values for workers
As the Covid-19 crisis enters its third year and the Omicron variant emerges, organizations around the world are contemplating how, when and even if their knowledge workers will resume regular office hours. And they do so at a time when the opinions and priorities of their employees have changed. A recent McKinsey study showed that well-being, flexibility, and work-life balance are top of mind. A survey conducted by Microsoft last year indicated that 41% of the global workforce would consider changing jobs in the next year, with 55% saying that the work environment would play a role in their decisions.
Functional design and work performance
NBBJ, an international consultancy specializing in workplace design, was placed in an unusual position in 2020: it was hired to design the headquarters of Korean fintech company Hana Bank during the same period that the pandemic was forcing business leaders to rethink the workplace. office purpose. But the process, and the resulting building, was not a reaction to Covid. Rather, the crisis highlighted and accelerated trends that had been bubbling under the surface for years, including an increased focus on the mental and physical health of employees, the needs of a multigenerational workforce, a greater emphasis on corporate purpose and the shift to remote work.
Thriving corporate cultures
The pandemic raised the stakes for companies looking to retain top-tier employees and build thriving cultures. Here are some of the principles NBBJ applied and the lessons they learned from the Hana Bank project, as well as the recommendations they gave on how organizations can implement small-scale and large-scale changes to entice people back to in-person work.
Ask what the space is for and name it accordingly
It may sound simple, but the nomenclature matters. For knowledge workers, the office shouldn’t be a place to tackle a to-do list. It is a place for collaboration, creativity and learning, where an employee feels nurtured and with a sense of belonging. The names of buildings, floors, areas or rooms should reflect this intention. Terms like “learning hub” or “innovation space” communicate new perspective, shape design changes, attract talent, and influence behavior.
Recognize creative work
Hana Bank calls its new headquarters “Mindmark” to recognize the creative work that goes on inside. Cutting-edge tech companies like Facebook and Google have “campuses” for the same reason; they want their engineers to experiment just like they did when they were students.
Listen to what employees want and need
People will expect more flexibility, better technology, and incentives to go to the office, and businesses need to heed that call.
Salesforce, for example, has reduced its desk space by 40% and adopted a floor plan that features more team-focused spaces that encourage a balance between individual and collaborative work. Hana Bank’s headquarters accommodates various modes of work, including the head-down type of individual work that occurs at a desk, flexible seating for when people need a break from their desks, collaborative spaces that encourage interaction team focused and lounges for socializing. This combination of experiences encourages orderly action by workers while providing structure.
Experiment within your own organization
Some companies will create a new headquarters in this new time. But most can design a more thoughtful office environment. To start exploring ideas for design changes, what organizations that want to carry it out successfully must do is start small. For example, reusing conference rooms, making new investments in furniture, for example, new work tables that attract staff, or renovating an entire floor of the building in which the company operates.
They can also incorporate multimedia technology to bring people together and breathe new life into the office.
Brand sense and community of interests
WarnerMedia’s new headquarters features an immersive media experience that incorporates content from the company’s vast network universe to create a sense of brand identity and community. Many companies have also invested in smart hybrid meeting technology.
Therefore, multiple use opportunities must also be sought. For example, the interior/exterior winding ramps that extend from the bottom to the top of the Hana Bank building can be used for one-on-one meetings on foot, one-on-one exercise, or social breaks in nature and fresh air. Finally, make sure you focus on safety and sustainability by following healthy building guidelines.
Activate knowledge-based associations
For younger knowledge workers, the office is as much a place to learn and socialize as it is a place to meet deadlines. Nearly 60% of Millennials report that opportunities to discover new knowledge are extremely important to them when applying for a job, and they can also stay with a company longer by getting involved in social causes. Smart companies make this happen by partnering with outside organizations to provide such programming.
Meditation and reflection
Activities like yoga or meditation, community service, or continuing education are a good place to start. Even small initiatives like a rotating hanging piece by local artists or students, canned food drives in the lobby, or pop-up food trucks outside can boost employees’ sense of purpose. Gravity, a mixed-use development in Columbus, Ohio that houses a large-scale creative office building in addition to residences, employs a full-time curator to find partners and programs that nurture curiosity and build community.
Conclusions valid today for years to come
Workplace trends that accelerated and employee preferences that crystallized during the pandemic are not going away. NBBJ is right to urge corporations to use this moment to think about how they can improve work environments in a way that increases employee engagement and well-being, thereby boosting attendance, increasing retention and attracting new talent. Now is the time to act.