Here is a highlight of her thoughts on the emerging trends that will drive change in the office.
1. The Ageless Workplace
In the workplace, age is losing its relevance. Due to decreasing birth rates, longer life expectancy, and thanks to improved healthcare and better working conditions, the worker longevity is increasing.
High-performing companies will use the multi-generational workforce to their advantage by mixing older and more experienced employees with younger generations of workers.
This will create new synergies in the workplace blending years of work experience, with strong tech-savviness and an eye for what is next.
To make this work, employers need to ensure to create spaces where all generations feel comfortable working side by side. This requires taking a greater responsibility for promoting the healthy way of living, providing food rich in vitamins and minerals or enhancing wellness in the workplace.
2. The Mindful Workplace
Our focus is increasingly moving away from the physical health towards mental health. The days of iron mans and marathons are reaching a tipping point. Instead, we’re seeing that mindfulness and meditation have received renewed interest both at work and outside of work.
Being unplugged and disconnected from everything digital is becoming the new luxury. We will be more focused on enhancing physical contact in the workplace and give each other more space to daydream away from work, whenever that is needed.
To respond to this, employers will place greater emphasis on how they can enhance psychological health and help employees to disconnect from work and their digital devices to support performance in the workplace.
3. The intuitive Workplace
Fueled by technology and data intelligence, companies will increasingly look into how they can create personalized experiences that meet the needs and desires of an increasingly diverse workforce.
Using Internet of Things and sensor technologies, companies will track their workers to be able to create more intuitive workplaces based on the employee data they are able to gather. Employers will analyze information about employee interaction and use this to build an orchestrated workplace environment that fosters creativity, innovation, collaboration and fuels employees’ productivity.
The companies that do not manage to quantify and pre-empt employee needs and wants will lose talents as the relationship will continue to be a guessing-game, resulting in lower productivity, loyalty and staff retention.
The traditional worker: Perhaps the most familiar, the traditional employee works on-campus, in a full-time or fixed part-time arrangement. Given a shared location and regular in-person interactions, social norms and behaviors are generally highly observable among traditional workers, making this setting the most efficient at transmitting culture. But these benefits come at a cost: the overhead involved in maintaining a physical location or multiple locations, as well as the risk of cultural stagnation. Also, if norms are well entrenched, an on-campus setting has the potential to create a static or homogeneous culture that can be difficult to change—an ability that may be crucial as companies increasingly demand nimble and dynamic environments to remain competitive. The risk is that groupthink may arise, leading workers to conform to old ways of acting and thinking rather than challenging the status quo.15 In addition, traditional workers in satellite locations may feel isolated from headquarters, which can foster resentment or a sense of being “second-class citizens.”
The tenured remote worker: Off-campus but on-balance sheet workers are commonly referred to as teleworkers, but they may also include traveling salespeople, remote customer service workers, and those in other jobs that do not require on-campus accommodations. These workers have flexibility of location, but are at a disadvantage when it comes to actually observing social norms as well as experiencing in-person collaboration. Research suggests that remote employees often have less trust in each other’s work and capabilities due to a lack of interpersonal communication.16 In addition, remote workers may feel isolated and separated from the company’s headquarters. However, companies still have some traditional levers to pull to engage the tenured remote worker, such as benefits and formal career progression opportunities.
The transactional remote worker: This type of worker is not only off-balance-sheet, but also off-campus. Often, they are paid to deliver very specific services. Many of these individuals operate on flexible schedules and in customer-facing roles.17 Their relationship with the hiring organization can be marked by low-quality touchpoints and facilitated through technology-based platforms or a third-party agency. The transactional remote worker may also experience a strong sense of instability, which may result in added anxiety.18
The outside contractor: On-campus but off-balance-sheet, contract or consulting workers often bring an inherent outsider mentality and an array of previous cultural experiences. They are often brought in to help facilitate a shorter-term or finite project and may be viewed—or may view themselves—as not being subject to the organization’s cultural norms and values. These workers usually do not receive the typical onboarding and new hire training opportunities that can help build a sense of culture among on-balance sheet employees. Given that these individuals work on campus and can observe the organization’s norms firsthand, however, there may be more opportunities to make them feel like part of the culture.
4. The Collaborative Workplace
In today’s growingly social, transparent and interdependent world, we are seeing continued democratization of hierarchies, and the female workforce taking over the world of business, which is bringing new values and ways of working into the workplace. This includes providing a culture of empathy, flexibility, openness and importantly, collaboration.
More employers will focus on enhancing listening skills, understanding other people’s perspectives and relationship building. This will result in more cooperative workplaces focused on promotion of an open social exchange. Employers will create an environment where employees regularly can engage in open discussions, workshops and brain storming.
We will also see more companies celebrating common purposes and turning competition into collaboration for mutual gain.