In the past year, work as we know it has completely changed. It was already developing at a rapid pace pre-pandemic, but after 2021, some offices are virtually unrecognisable from what they were five years ago.
And there’s every reason to believe that they will continue changing. In fact, there’s a lot to believe that in 2022, we may see the pandemic move to endemic disease, helping us get back to life as we know it. However, some things have changed irreversibly, and the office is one of them.
Post-pandemic and other world events in the last two years, we are more aware of the importance of wellness, connection and equality - and of course, this all filters down to the office. Add that to technological advances, and you’ve got a completely transformed workplace.
Here are seven ways that the future of office working will change in 2022.
There’s no denying that the future needs to be sustainable. In the last few years, people have become increasingly aware of climate change, which will cause issues like ice caps melting and loss of wildlife due to plastic pollution.
The workplace needs to be sustainable too. There is usually a carbon cost of 0.005 tonnes of CO2 to keep staff warm and dry every day while they work in the office. The average office worker reportedly uses 500 disposable coffee cups each year, too.
However, there are solutions to combat the negative climate effects of office work. One of these is hybrid working, which we will discuss later in this article! There are also several in-office changes that you can enact to make it more sustainable.
The rise of remote work has been happening since long before 2022, but it’s set to increase exponentially year on year.
There are a few different ways that your company may make use of remote workers. Various staff members could work on a remote basis, either operating from home or even working from far-flung destinations (wherever there’s WiFi!). You’d effectively work as a virtual team, completing all tasks online.
Alternatively, your business may work with freelancers. These are remote, self-employed workers who can work for companies on a casual basis. Freelancers arrange their own taxes, medical care and equipment and companies just pay them an agreed rate.
They’re great for when you need help with one area of work but don’t want to hire somebody full-time. Businesses commonly use freelancers for jobs like copywriting, website design and support or graphic design.
One interesting effect of using more remote work is that talent pools will grow. If you use freelancers, there’s nothing to stop you from employing an expert in the field who lives on the other side of the world. This could give your business more opportunities to grow!
A hybrid schedule will probably become more common for your full-time staff members. Hybrid work is when staff members go into the office for 1-4 days per week and work at home for the other days.
The perfect hybrid schedule varies for each business, but depending on how yours operates, you might decide to have employees in once a week, four days per week or two or three days per week (this is the most common).
One thing is for sure, most employees are going to expect at least some sort of hybrid work pattern - and with the technology that we have today, there’s no reason why most businesses can’t make it happen.
In fact, any businesses that don’t adopt hybrid schedules in 2022 may find that they struggle to attract employees, as flexibility is nowadays a common expectation of millennials and Gen Z-ers.
Technology is likely to develop and evolve in 2022 and beyond. There is already some excellent hardware and software that’s been used in the last few years.
Equipment like the interactive displays that we sell at Avocor can help you to collaborate with people inside and outside the office. With interactive displays, you can browse the web, have meetings and use various collaborative software.
Pre-existing software includes management programmes like Slack and Asana, which are essential if you have a hybrid workplace.
However, there are set to be big advancements in tech in 2022. The most anticipated is perhaps the Metaverse, which is set to be a virtual community and hang out space where people can work from. Other technologies that may worm their way into the workplace this year are cryptocurrencies and increasingly sophisticated AI.
Tech programmes are set to become more inclusive. With technological advances, programmes targeting minorities, people on lower incomes or startups are becoming more common, such as Ellevest and Icon Saving Plan.
And, there should be more of a focus on wellness and connectivity in any future technology. The importance of both was made clear throughout the pandemic, and future workplace technology will focus just as much on these as on productivity.
There should have been equality policies in the workplace many years ago, but events like the Black Lives Matter protests have ensured that everybody knows how important equality is in 2022.
It’s increasingly essential to have diverse members of staff who can offer unique voices and perspectives on issues. Plus, it goes without saying that any office should have an equal opportunity and non-discriminatory policy that they abide by when hiring.
There should also be a zero-tolerance policy to any discrimination in the office itself, whether it be for race, gender, sexuality, religion or ability.
Mental health became a more prudent topic during the pandemic, with 4 in 10 adults in the US reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety. Since then, the concept of wellness has found its way into some workplaces. In 2022, increasing offices are expected to adopt wellness policies.
Wellness policies can look like the following:
One of the main benefits of hybrid work schedules is that they can help with mental health, as they enable staff members to rest more yet still enjoy office culture and connection.
With improving software, it’s becoming increasingly more possible to automate the more mundane tasks. For example, database entry can now often be completed by different types of software.
What does this mean for the workplace? While some people are (understandably) nervous about AI taking over the world, it will hopefully be a lot more positive. We still need humans to do creative, complicated tasks - so staff members will likely be saved from the most mundane and have a chance to focus more on work that they need to use their brainpower for.
For example, if a marketing assistant spends a lot of time creating spreadsheets, they may now be able to actually work on campaigns instead, gaining experience in the marketing world more quickly. This could fast track their career!
AI can seem very overwhelming, but it could also be the key to a much more productive workplace.
Offices are set to catapult into the future in 2022. Some of these changes are already adopted in many businesses, but it’ll become increasingly less possible to ignore the importance of sustainability, equality and mental health awareness as we move forward.
If you run a business, it’s important to consider all of these ways the future of office working will change, and ensure that your office is ready for them.