As Envoy’s workplace manager at our headquarters in San Francisco, I’ve seen and been a part of many workplace trends over the past few years. From work-from-home as the norm in early 2020 out of necessity due to the pandemic. To hybrid work gaining in popularity due to new technologies and innovations.
Now, new trends are popping up in workplaces around the world—including our own. These recent changes in the workplace aren’t coming from necessity, urgency, or innovation as they have in recent years. In 2022, workplace trends are coming from people and companies seeking to do things better. To work more efficiently and live a better life, both at work and outside of it.
Exploring trends in the workplace allows us, as workplace leaders, to better prepare for what’s ahead. It also helps us get ahead of major industry shifts and build a better workplace for everyone. Let’s explore four trends currently shaping the future of the workplace.
Workplace trend #1: The workplace vs. the home office
No matter if your company is hybrid or fully back in-office, your workplace is competing with the home office. After months (years?) of employees working from the convenience of their homes, they are transitioning back to the workplace.
Most employees say the workplace plays a critical role in collaborating and relationship building. In other words, many employees will come to the workplace for a specific purpose. In a recent survey, we found that 93% of respondents are planning their work days as they see fit. They are planning specific tasks for office days. More than a third (36%) say they prefer to reserve priority meetings and collaborative work for days onsite.
To keep up with this trend (and with the competition of the home office), workplace leaders must create experiences and a work environment that draws employees in. This could be in the form of meeting spaces that allow folks to collaborate and meet in person. This could also be social events like happy hours, team lunches, and monthly birthday celebrations that let people enjoy the social perks of being in the office. It’s time to start thinking of ways to make the onsite experience greater than the convenience of working from their couch!
Workplace trend #2: Workplace design
Under the umbrella of “the workplace vs. the home office” is the new trend of thoughtful, optimized, and creative workplace design. Workplace design plays a major role in encouraging employees to work from the office. I’m not just talking about paint colors and plants in the office. Workplace design includes everything you do to set your workplace up for success. Think office layout, furniture, technology, environment—and of course plants too.
We asked 800 workplace leaders to share how they are getting their folks to the workplace and found that many are making changes to workplace design. 39% of respondents have revamped their office environment by playing music, creating social spaces, and having games in the office. 40% are touting their office amenities like standing desks, quiet working pods, and other things that folks might not have access to at home.
Now, workplace design isn’t a new trend. But what makes this a 2022 workplace trend is the new focus on four types of spaces:
- Focused individual work areas. These are your typical individual workstations. Think a desk with a monitor and whatever amenities the typical employee needs to work. Even in an open floor plan, employees recognize this specific part of the workplace as a focused and quiet space. This is ideal for heads-down work (and not as ideal for loud Zoom calls).
- Open individual work areas. On the other hand, open individual work areas are zones that are a bit more welcoming to noise and socializing. Generally, this is a more communal area where folks can plug in technology, grab a coffee or snack, and pop by to say hi to coworkers.
- Focused collaborative work areas. These are mostly closed-off conference rooms and meeting spaces. It includes any area where teams can have focused sessions, take Zoom calls with remote colleagues, or have a safe space to discuss confidential subjects.
- Open collaborative work areas. Lastly, open collaborative areas would be modular in nature. Imagine an area with chairs, couches, and bean bags that you can move around. Add in a few whiteboards or monitors on wheels. It’s a space where spontaneous creativity is encouraged. Groups of two or more can gather here for brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, and other modes of in-person collaboration.
At the end of the day, your employees work in different ways. And they benefit from different options for how to approach their work (and social habits) throughout the day. It’s important to offer employees customization and convenience to make the workplace experience great.
Workplace trend #3: Childcare in the workplace
Speaking of convenience, child daycare is the primary driver of the next modern workplace trend. If a parent has the benefit of having child day care at their workplace, that is a major factor in opting to work from the office rather than from home. Earlier this year, Fortune claimed that “child care is having a renaissance and should be an essential part of a company’s overall recruitment and retention strategy… Forward-thinking employers are realizing that the more attractive they make their job site, the more employees will want to come to the office and the more they will build culture.”
While it may seem expensive to companies at first glance, providing childcare in the workplace actually has many benefits. It can improve morale and absenteeism and also lower attrition rates among employees who otherwise would struggle to be a working parent. On top of that, workplace-provided childcare also helps create equity in the workplace. The demand for childcare in the workplace is larger now than ever—particularly from working mothers.
There are cost-saving benefits with this new workplace trend as well. According to a study conducted by UpJohn Institute, providing child day care at the workplace saved two large companies $150,000 and $250,000 in wages. Start by doing a cost-benefit analysis at your company to see if you could also see value from the tangible and intangible benefits of providing childcare in the workplace.
Workplace trend #4: Productivity monitoring
One of the most popular trends in the workplace of late is monitoring workplace productivity. According to a study done by Gartner, 16% of employers are increasing their use of technology to monitor employee office attendance or internal communications. “While the concept of monitoring employee performance is not new, hybrid work has fostered greater interest in keeping tabs on workplace productivity.” Companies want to ensure their workforce is productive—no matter where they’re working.
But the focus here isn’t only on productivity, it’s also related to measuring engagement to understand the employee experience at the workplace better. This new technology can help employers recognize patterns of employees working too much to get ahead of burnout.
This modern workplace trend is definitely a tricky subject. Done wrong and you lose your employee’s trust and create a toxic work environment. The key here is communication. According to Gartner, “to implement a successful rollout, leaders should tailor communication to roles, consider geographic differences, and communicate through individual managers.”
What’s next for modern workplace trends
Each workplace will have its own needs and desires, depending on your industry, location, and your company’s demographic makeup. Are you on a Gen Z hiring spree? Then in-person work experiences should be high on your priority list. Do you employ many working parents? Start looking into childcare in the workplace.
No matter what, your workplace is now permanently in competition with the comfort and convenience of the home office. It’s time to find new and creative ways to get employees productive and engaged in the workplace. Use these four modern workplace trends as a starting point to get ahead of where the office is heading. These focus areas are an exciting opportunity for your company to differentiate itself as a top employer.