It goes without saying that the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 pushed the workplace into a state of change. From forcing employees worldwide to work from home and redefine communication in a crisis, these rapid changes have resulted in numerous positive shifts in the workplace. As we transition back to normalcy, many companies are offering employees a hybrid work environment, and many more have gone fully remote.
Here are eleven workplace trends seen in 2022 that are here to stay.
1. Remote first is leading the way
Remote is here to stay. Currently, 16% of companies worldwide are remote, which is only expected to grow. For a company that’s always been in the office, remote may seem intimidating, but some companies have dialed in their business model, prioritizing productivity over mindless hours spent at work.
Here are some things companies looking to change can expect from a remote workplace:
- Improved work-life balance
- Less travel time, thus more time for personal activities
- Employers and employees save money on overhead costs, gas, and going out for lunch
- Work from wherever you want (time zones permitting)
- Broader talent pool as you aren’t beholden to one location
- Control over workplace environment, such as seating, temperature, etc.
- An increase in productivity as a result of increased flexibility
Companies still testing the waters can start by letting employees work from home part-time while figuring out the best way to make the transition.
2. The best of both worlds: Hybrid workplace models
For some industries, fully remote doesn’t work, especially those requiring hands-on tasks. The hybrid model had proven to be popular, giving workers a chance to skip the commute and appreciate the days to themselves. Some companies have allowed certain employees to take full remote positions, like engineers and designers, while others are expected on-site if not all of the time.
Potential resentment or jealousy could arise with some employees being allowed to work from home while others cannot. To avoid any issues, offer them something they can enjoy together. Planning team-building retreats that the whole team can attend is a great way to show your employees they are valued and balance the dynamic.
3. In-person meetups have become more intentional: From Company meetups to retreats
Because many workplaces have implemented remote models, there is more emphasis on in-person team-building to ensure employees build strong relationships in and out of the office.
Company retreats can be curated to meet a company's specific needs, whether an annual team retreat focused on building relationships or a professional retreat outside the office that brings everyone together to tackle a particular project. The Surf Office can help you customize your next company retreat based on your specific needs and goals.
Some of the significant benefits of company retreats are:
- It gives employees a chance to get to know one another on a personal level
- Encourages interaction/ communication through conversation and spontaneous activities
- Unifies teams, which is essential for long-term growth
- Reduces stress
- It makes employees feel valued
Getting together, whether every quarter or once a year, provides employees and employers to communicate with intention, ultimately leading to better workplace morale and productivity.
4. Communication tools are better than ever
Out of necessity, companies started relying on technology more and more to connect with employees. During the pandemic, Zoom was king. But, a few years later, other platforms have stepped up to the plate, offering various business options.
Here are some top communication platforms that help nurture employee engagement and keep on top of tasks throughout the day:
- Newsletters, especially internal ones, keep everyone in the loop and give employees a chance to get to know what their peers are working on
- Slack is not to be underestimated. This well-known tool is a great way to communicate throughout the day while also providing the option to start separate threads to help organize thoughts and tasks.
- Scheduling tools, like Asana, are great for teams of all sizes and are task-oriented, helping you manage daily goals and long-term projects.
There's a lot out there, but starting with some of the most well-known and trusted communication platforms can help companies figure out what communication style works best for them.
5. Workplace well-being is paramount
Well, maybe not non-negotiable; there are still plenty of high-stress jobs! But that’s starting to change.
As the world opened up over the past couple of years, employers were met with resistance when asking employees to return to the office. Not only were people enjoying the fact that they could roll out of bed and start their day without having to rush but it’s also been proven that commuting to work creates added stress that can affect a person’s well-being.
Some ways companies promote well-being in the workplace:
- Many companies have established dedicated mental health days, giving employees time to rest and digest.
- Employers are setting strict off-line hours to help employees find a better work-life balance. They have dedicated off-line hours. Knowing when to turn off can be challenging if your job lasts 40 hours a week
- Many businesses offer healthcare budgets that include gym memberships
- Companies understand it’s sometimes hard to find time outside of work to dedicate to hobbies, so more and more employers are offering one day a month off so they can volunteer at the charity of their choice
If your employees feel taken care of, they are more likely to be happy to show up to work, and happy employees are proven to be more productive.
6. Better pay and benefits
Labor shortages and employees leaving their jobs en masse have recently been all over the news. It brought back the question: Is the 40-hour workweek working?
And it’s not just about hours per week; employees worldwide are coming together to discuss best practices, and there is a growing collective voice asking for improved conditions in the workplace.
With a more open workplace culture and the cost of living getting more expensive, employers are wising up and giving the people what they want.
Companies have increased their pay and are rolling out numerous benefits, such as increased vacation, sabbaticals, and comprehensive benefits packages that include health care and retirement plans.
7. Mental Health Days
Another added benefit that companies offer is what’s known as mental health days. As we briefly mentioned above, mental health days are part of well-being in the workplace. In addition to established paid time off, more and more companies are offering an additional day, typically once a month, to let employees sit back and relax, maybe even schedule a massage.
Providing a mandated day off for every employee reduces pressure on people who are starting to feel burnt out but are too afraid to ask for time off. Additionally, if an employee is struggling, the company-mandated mental health days help reduce any stigma attached to facing challenges in their personal and professional lives.
8. Continuing education
Rather than expecting employees to have attended a university that may or may not work in their favor once they enter the job market, companies are steadily adopting “long-term” learning models.
Various online programs target skill building for professionals at all points in their careers:
- Thought Industries offers courses for businesses as well as design and content courses
- Wondrium has thousands of online courses to choose from, even creative classes like painting and foreign languages
- Coursera covers all things coding, perfect for those who want to learn a new language or expand their skills.
- Udemy also offers a wide range of coding classes and an Excel at all levels course.
Providing continuing education and promoting learning and curiosity in the workplace makes it easier for employees to identify gaps in their knowledge and speak up when they don’t know something, thus avoiding mistakes due to fear of being seen as inexperienced.
9. Prioritizing “Soft skills”
Of course, you can’t hire an engineer with a great personality and excellent communication skills without proper training. Still, companies today understand the benefit of hiring hard (technical) and soft (based on personality traits) employees.
Cultivating a happy, productive team dynamic is much easier when your employees are cooperative and communicative.
These soft skills boost morale and ensure team members can work closely together:
- Collaboration and team-oriented
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Mentoring and guidance
- Critical thinking
- Leadership skills
- Time management
- Proactive skills
While many employees get comfortable in the workplace, they open up, but hiring people who are ready to work as a team is still a significant leg up.
10. Creating space for increased equity in the workplace
Employers may think they are treating everyone equally, but it’s easy to get swept up in the long to-dos to remember that everyone will have changing needs. There are ways to ensure employees feel valued and a career track is in place to ensure they reach their goals.
Here are some great starting points to build a workplace culture that values employee needs and fair treatment:
- Communicate with your employees and find out what they need. This could be done with a survey or one on one meeting
- Give regular performance and feedback reviews, making sure any changes or issues are addressed regularly
- Offer a clear financial pathway for employees, such as offering raises every six months to a year and discussing financial goals
- Be transparent with employees about expectations and what they can do to reach their professional goals
- Evaluate hiring practices and make sure you are promoting diversity across the board
Again, creating a workplace that values equity and inclusivity is a process but a worthwhile one. It all starts with communication, listening to what your employees need, and then taking action.
11. Flexibility is more important than ever before
Those who got the chance to work remotely got a taste of more flexible work schedules, and they don’t want to go back to the 9-5 grind. If you can get your work done on a computer and don’t have in-person obligations or time zone restrictions, why not do it from the beaches of Gran Canaria or a bustling coworking space in Berlin?
Employees that don’t feel like they have to sit in front of their computer 8 hours a day and are valued based on their productivity rather than time spent “working,” are much more satisfied with their jobs. Workers have also commonly stated that they would be willing to stay at a company longer if afforded more autonomy.
As 2022 comes to a close, we are slowing down for the holidays and preparing for a new, productive year. As more companies reevaluate their workplace model, whether they are fully remote or considering making a change, these current trends are a great place to start.