Does your office take part in Casual Fridays, virtual meetings, or the use of an app to track your team’s progress? If yes, then congratulations, you’re part of a trend! A workplace trend, that is. Workplace trends are business practices that are started and expected to continue.
These trends typically start in more giant corporations that can afford to experiment. If they work, word spreads, and they become “buzzworthy” and will sooner or later trickle down to smaller businesses. Many factors can affect a workplace trend, like new technology, the economy, and social and health concerns.
One trend we all saw unravel before our eyes in 2020 was working from home. Though it was not unheard of to work from one’s home before that, the onset of the pandemic made it commonplace. What started as a necessity has become a trend – because it works for many businesses and workers alike. That’s the crux of workplace trends: they are meant to be new yet useful tools or procedures that help a company function better and make life easier for workers. The goal is productivity.
Popular trends like mental health awareness and work-life balance are being implemented into benefits packages and used to recruit new employees. Workplace trends are constantly changing and developing. In this blog, we’ll discuss ten currently gaining momentum and may be coming to your business soon.
1. Remote Work
According to most surveys, remote work is a workplace trend that’s here to stay. Surveys found that up to 98% of employees would choose the flexibility and autonomy of working from home. A whopping 57% stated they would instead find a new job than have to come into the office every day.
It seems many companies and bosses are listening because, as of 2023, almost 3/4 of companies surveyed said they had plans to continue or implement some remote work. While everyone can’t work from home, those who can state it’s a considerable weight take off their day-to-day lives. Not having to take part in awful commutes, being able to take the dog for a walk, or picking up the kids from school all make for happier workers.
Happier workers usually mean more productivity, and that’s always good for business. For example, if you work for a law firm, preparing a speech for the court is much easier in front of your bathroom mirror than in a shared office with interruptions all day. The remote work trend has also helped set off other positive trends, as we’ll explore later, but not everyone is on the work-from-home bandwagon.
Major bosses like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk have all instituted a return-to-work policy. Workers for the massive companies must be in the building at least three days a week. Gates even uses an app to track employees on the days and hours they’re supposed to be there. While the remote trend will always have naysayers, it undoubtedly works for businesses.
2. Digital Collaboration Tools
You may think you are not familiar with digital collaboration tools, but if you’ve used Word, Zoom, or Google Docs, then you are. These tools fall under the umbrella of any app, software, or platform that allows employees or any group of people to meet, share, and create without needing to be in the same space. The tools enable employees, clients, vendors, and anyone involved in a project together to streamline their process from anywhere.
These digital tools support working from home and allow a team to meet with a client in another country. For example, during COVID-19, hospitals in New York and Milan could share data on outbreaks and update each other on the progress of cases. Zoom is among the most popular digital trends due to its high-quality audio and video. Still, also because it allows for up to a thousand participants, and meetings can be recorded and played back later.
Other digital tools include Dropbox, Slack, Notion, and Base. The app Allie is for everything from sharing notes and assigning tasks to making shared project boards and tracking employee progress. Digital collaboration tools have been a game changer in the productivity of many businesses, and the more tech advances, the more companies will use them.
3. Access to a Global Talent Pool
A global talent pool is an extensive database of job candidates who have applied for positions in the past but may not have been hired. They agree to be put into the database or “pool” for other employers to contact later. A corporation or business having a global talent pool can significantly reduce the time it takes to hire someone.
Some large companies may have their own, but most businesses pay for access to a platform. The human resources department or manager can type in specifications for the position they want to fill, and a list of candidates will pop up. For example, if you’re a well drilling business looking for someone in Wyoming with an environmental degree, you’d type them in, and the closest matches will appear. Businesses that use platforms like these have stated they spend up to 70% less time sifting through resumes, applications, and advertising.
4. Health and Safety Protocols
Workplace trends that have certainly taken the business world by storm in the past few years are those related to health and safety. These trends fall into three main categories: mental health, physical health, and a security culture. Where those Seattle and Silicon Valley start-ups were once unique with their free ice cream bars and nap pods, they are now becoming more commonplace, or at least perks similar to them.
Corporations are realizing that mental health is paramount to productivity, so they are making adjustments. Many are adding on-site mental health services and virtual access, along with things like meditation rooms, yoga classes, and work flexibility options that promote well-being. Many are even adding drop-in daycare services. Physical health initiatives like gyms, community dining halls with healthy food options, and clinics are being added.
Many places have PPE like masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer available to increase the health and comfort levels of employees. Training is being provided in harassment, diversity, and empathy. You’ll find this training in almost all business settings, from a small law firm to a mid-level home building company.
5. AI Integration
Believe it or not, “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1956. At that time, it was used to explain how machines had the potential to do the work of humans, such as mass production, data organization, and tasks that might be too much for a single human to accomplish. Today, it’s turned into much more, and we have everything from our assistants powered by AI (Hi Alexa!) to vacuum cleaners that know what nooks and crannies need to be cleaned.
But how are businesses integrating AI to keep up with workforce trends? The most common use that’s been used for years is for customer service. You know those automated menus when you call a business or a chatbot on a webpage that can answer questions, make appointments, and take messages?
The latest trends, however, are being used mainly in the marketing agency realm and the service industry. These businesses rely increasingly on AI integration to collect, analyze, and interpret vast amounts of data quickly. AI is also being used in business for cognitive insights to predict and customize what consumers may like. For example, those Facebook ads that pop up on our feed and leave us wondering how they know – that’s Meta using AI along with our data to tell us what dog food we should buy.
This workplace trend focuses on protecting the online data, information, accounts, and intellectual property of businesses and their employees. Cyberattacks have been a growing problem in recent years and can happen anywhere worldwide. Ransomware and malware are becoming more sophisticated daily, so companies invest in software and training to protect their networks.
Some businesses are even hiring full-time cybersecurity specialists. These employees are in charge of safeguarding all devices from attacks, recording and reporting any suspicious activity, and training employees. A cyberattack can wreak havoc on any business, big or small.
For example, let’s say a small garage door company has its data breached; not only will every customer have their payment information at risk, but the code to the garage as well. That leaves them open to personal theft. Large companies are not immune, either. Big names like Verizon, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase have also suffered breaches that have shut them down for various amounts of time.
7. Transformed Office Space
Another big workplace trend to be on the lookout for is in the area of office space. Employees who need to come into the office are no longer willing to settle for the drab, institutional setting that many offices offer. Workers are rallying against the stifling cubicles and mice in a maze floor plans.
Businesses are listening in hopes of attracting people back to the office by tearing down walls and assembling common spaces for collaboration and socialization. Break rooms are being redesigned to hold more than two people at a time and be more relaxing. Standing desks, plants, natural materials, and partitions use notes and more to create a versatile and claiming space.
Some even incorporate gyms, dining rooms, and daycare spaces to make the perks of coming into the office as enticing as the benefits of staying home. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune to transform office space. Even a smaller business, like a vehicle rental company, can do things to improve its office space.
8. Cloud Computing
Most of us are familiar with cloud storage, which remotely stores data and resources without actively managing it. It’s like paying for a storage facility for stuff you can’t fit in your house. Cloud Computing allows businesses and individuals to use the data from storage and use it for things like live-streaming video, tracking inventory in real-time, and managing stock.
Apps like Google Docs and DropBox can also be used with cloud computing to share data with employees, clients, and vendors. The current business advice many IT specialists give is that cloud computing can help businesses of all sizes streamline their data and save time. Employees appreciate it because it allows them the flexibility to share with others without needing to be in the same room.
9. Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
More and more businesses, regardless of size, have been instituting environmental sustainability initiatives for several reasons. They, of course, want to do their part to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Still, it’s also to adhere to regulations, improve their reputation, and attract a new generation of employees. One way they do this is to renovate their space to be greener by using digital climate control and installing dimmers or sleep options so lights and equipment shut off when not in use.
Many are rethinking their packaging designs and order fulfillment services. Businesses will now only work with vendors and fulfillment centers that use eco-friendly packaging, like paper-filling packaging or peanuts made from rice. Many corporations are cutting down on business travel and using renewable energy like solar, wind, and hydropower whenever possible.
10. Data-Driven Decisions
It’s not a new workforce trend, but it’s certainly one that will be around and continue to influence the way businesses gain new clients and customers. Data-driven decisions are pretty much how they sound. Businesses use data, metrics, algorithms, and analyzed facts to make decisions and set goals.
The data is used to design services and products based on customer preferences. For example, it could be as simple as a grading business sending out surveys to customers about what type of soil or gravel they prefer. It could also be as in-depth as Facebook collecting our visits to pages and directing ads out eY geared toward our interests.
Whether your business is large or small, there’s no doubt that some of these workplace trends will help to streamline your employee’s productivity. They can help with productivity and morale while saving time and helping with organization all at the same time. Check some of these resources out and boost your productivity!