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Future of work Wednesdays: 5 big workplace trends to impact 2022

future of work wednesdays
Britta Schellenberg
Published on

We hope you had a healthy and happy Holiday season! This new iteration of our bi-weekly newsletter will highlight key trends and important news from the world of hybrid work. 

But since we’ve just ushered in 2022, it’s a perfect time to look forward to some of the macro-trends we expect to impact the workplace in 2022 (and beyond). We’ll dive into individual news stories next time, as we typically do, but for this newsletter only we’ll discuss big picture workplace trends. . . 

Here are what we view as the five most impactful workplace trends for 2022 (in no particular order):

1. Hybrid work is what the present and future of work will look like.

We know from multiple surveys over the last twenty months that the overwhelming majority of employees (typically over 70%) would prefer to work from home at least some of the time, especially as COVID-19 variants disrupt company RTO plans and daily life. Some employees might prefer to work once a week from home, while others might prefer coming into the office just once per week, but some form of hybrid work has transitioned from the new normal to simply normal. 

2. Employee experience will increasingly drive retention & engagement

The Great Resignation is actually a widespread shift in employee priorities, largely catalyzed by the pandemic. When employees demand change in the form of increased workplace flexibility, and when employers respond by seeking to re-impose traditional, pre-pandemic 9-to-5 workplace models (putting places above people and putting antiquated leadership above innovation), the results are obvious: talent leaves. 

The traditional focus on where work happens must shift to how work happens. Employees want flexibility and choice: when they don’t get it, they vote with their feet. Leadership nostalgia for 2019 is a surefire recipe for employee churn.

3. The future belongs to highly-adaptive and flexible organizations that prioritize people

The years 2020 and 2021 were marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (i.e., by VUCA). We can expect much of the same in 2022, especially as COVID-19 variants and workplace restrictions make it challenging for people to come together safely. The organizations that will do the best in harnessing their talent and meeting the demands of customers in 2022 will have a mindset and a workplace tech stack that supports flexibility and adaptiveness. 

It’s easy for organizations to do well when the conditions and markets they operate in are known and predictable. Great organizations thrive when the conditions and markets they operate in are notably VUCA. Flexibility isn’t an accident or a happenstance: it needs to be baked into everything an organization does, including how it builds its workplace tech stack.

4. Workplace technologies will keep evolving to support productivity & working from anywhere

The last two years have accelerated pre-pandemic trends around the digital transformation of work. There’s no remote and hybrid work without the enablement of employees through technological tools (like Robin) that support connection, collaboration, productivity, communication, and the safe utilization of the office. As the needs of employees and organizations continue to evolve in 2022, so will the technology to address those evolving needs.

5. Corporate culture will be less about spaces and more about people

The old days of fostering a corporate culture with free snacks, Hawaiian shirt days, and foosball tables have largely disappeared. What matters more than free swag (btw, I have nothing against company coffee mugs) is how companies listen to and support their employees in making choices that create meaning and engagement. In today’s world of distributed work teams, you need more than matching t-shirts to keep everyone engaged and on the same page. 

You build employee trust by supporting employee flexibility. One-size-fits-all never worked for company t-shirts, nor will it work  for company culture. If you don’t know what your employees want, ask them and offer choices.

Expect to read about every one of these five big workplace trends in upcoming Future of Work Wednesdays. For now, we at Robin would like to wish you and your organization a happy, productive 2022.

We’re honored to partner with organizations like yours. We’ll continue working to provide you with great tools and support! Thanks for reading Future of Work Wednesdays, and we’ll see you again in two weeks . . .

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AI, Automation and the Future of Workplaces