So what can we expect for the year, in terms of how companies may approach an adjusted office space to suit a now fairly entrenched expectation of flexibility from staff? Well, although it’s still a challenge to predict exactly how things will work out, there are some indications based on trends from last year, many of which will likely become the ‘way things are’ for the foreseeable future.
Here are some of the trends we think may become permanent fixtures…
According to an article recently posted on the BBC, the concept of ‘Mad Men-style executive offices’ is a thing of the past. Out with hyper-corporate, densely-populated cubicle-style regimens; in with open-plan, hot-desk, socially-aware spaces that offer employees more natural ways to interact with each other, whether face-to-face or via digital technologies.
The key takeaway: Assess your office space and consider how it needs to be adjusted to accommodate this new way of working
The past 24 months has re-shaped employees’ expectations around working hours, with a growing consensus that ‘less is more’. From an employer’s perspective this can be a challenge – after all, it may be very difficult to create a bespoke work schedule for every single employee.
But a global study has revealed that nearly 60% of workers ‘state they can do their work in less time than 40 hours per week, and over 40% are considering moving to jobs with more flexible options’.
In real terms, what this means for employers is that they need to consider how to attract and retain talent within their business by creating an environment that encourages flexibility, collaboration, skills development and uses technology to customize the working experience for each employee.
The key takeaway: Invest in technologies that allow you to assess and develop your team at a granular level, with a focus on flexible, results-orientated conditions, and upskilling and reskilling in order to foster a personalized growth path for each employee.
One of the surprising outcomes from the past 24 months and the shift to home-based working has been the heightened sense of accountability between employers and employees. As many workers say, it’s far harder to ‘hide’ from tasks when working from home, and as a result productivity has largely improved.
A by-product of this trend, even with a return to workplace on the cards in 2022, is an increased sense of trust, not only between employers and employees but at a more personal level between managers and teams.
It’s a two-way trade in which efficient managers have created more personal relationships with their team members and instilled a sense of trust that allocated tasks will be completed.
In exchange, managers are bringing a more understanding approach in terms of work hour flexibility, a clearer focus on making the work environment enjoyable and collaborative and making best use of technology to build virtual relationships.
The key takeaway: Give your managers the tools they need to develop the trust relationships with their teams
The work-life balance question is not a new one, but the past 24 months have heightened awareness around the need for mental and general health support for employees.
In what is becoming known as focusing on the ‘whole employee’, companies that have added mental health programs to their benefits list, and adjusted benefits to include greater flexibility, more time off, sign-on bonuses and an overall positive workplace environment are likely to experience lower staff churn and increased productivity.
The key takeaway: Assess your existing policies on staff health and wellbeing and consider what steps you need to implement to help manage and improve your approach.