You don’t need a crystal ball to divine the future of the workplace—you only need to look at the past three years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated workplace trends, with the shift to remote work being the most obvious example. A Gallup poll found that before the pandemic, just 8% of employees worked remotely.1 In 2022, that number has risen to 24%. The number of hybrid workers is even higher.
But as more employees and companies return to the office, employers and employees alike are asking themselves what they can expect next for the future of work trends. We’ll highlight four of the changes shaping the future of the workplace, as well as some of the challenges to plan for.
The 4 Trends Shaping the Future of Work
You can put away the tarot cards. The pandemic has revealed four trends at the forefront of workplace culture, including:
- Remote and Hybrid Work
- Employee Well-being
- Social Impact
- Artificial Intelligence
None of these trends are new. You might even have already begun to see their effects in your own organization. But with time, you can anticipate that more and more employers will embrace these trends—so let’s look closer at each one.
#1 Remote and Hybrid Work
We’ve already highlighted the astonishing increase in remote and hybrid work since 2020. Now, we’re starting to receive reliable data on the effect of these nontraditional work styles on both employers and employees.
For companies, remote and hybrid options are key strategies to retain and attract top talent. Some employers have concerns about how these changes affect employee productivity. But in fact, Forbes reports that remote employees worked 60 minutes more each day than both hybrid and in-person staff.2 Their research also found that hybrid employees are only marginally more productive than remote and in-person employees.
Emerging data suggests that despite the preference for remote work, there is an unexpected drawback: burnout. Remote employees may struggle with boundaries and work-life balance, which can negatively affect their mental health and, eventually, even their performance.
The solution? For employers, prioritize boundaries and benefits for all of your workers and consider hybrid options.2 Using a hybrid working system instead of going fully one-way can help companies solve a potential work-from-home vs. office dilemma they may have.
#2 Employee Well-being
Speaking of mental health benefits, another of the workplace trends 2022 is seeing involves a greater focus on employee experience and well-being.
The Harvard Business Review reports that in 2019, 59% of employees surveyed suffered from at least one mental health symptom. In 2021, that number rose to 76%. For employers, that means an increase in workers leaving due to mental health challenges.3
The result has been a greater demand for programs and initiatives that address these difficulties, including:3
- Shortened workweeks
- Mental health sick days
- Therapy benefits
The Harvard Business Review suggests employers go one step further and invest in culture shifts to address the root causes of employee mental health concerns, such as poor communication and management practices. Employers can achieve these changes through better training for company leadership and more flexibility for employees.3
#3 Social Impact
As Gen-Z and Millennials begin to dominate the workforce and older generations retire, the importance of social impact grows. In their 10th annual Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey, Deloitte affirmed the importance these generations place on social justice issues like racism and climate change.4
In fact, 44% of millennials and 49% of Gen-Z in Deloitte’s survey revealed that their personal values drove their decisions regarding the type of work and types of companies that they would align themselves with.4
Social impact strategies don’t just benefit employee satisfaction. Forbes cites research highlighting how brand loyalty and reputation improve when companies invest in their communities. Employers can begin by identifying which causes align with their company and community and then building initiatives from there.5
#4 Artificial Intelligence
Since 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) usage has grown by 270% across multiple business sectors.6 But don’t worry—we’re nowhere near a future where AI replaces human employees. Rather, AI will drive innovation in collaboration with human creativity.
A major concern regarding this trend is AI’s tendency to replicate bias. In fact, the United States Congress is even reviewing the Algorithmic Accountability Act.6 In Europe, the European Union has introduced its own Artificial Intelligence Act.
Some fields that can expect increased innovation through AI include:6
Companies will need to invest in both the technology as well as the appropriate employee training for these trends to succeed.6
What Are the Challenges for the Future Workforce?
As we’ve hinted, each of these trends comes with its own inherent challenge. For both remote and hybrid work and employee well-being, this is preventing burnout and protecting employees’ mental health. For social impact, it's building authentic initiatives that connect to both employees and communities. For AI, it’s avoiding bias and providing appropriate employee training.
The best way to prepare for these future challenges and others is to continue identifying these workplace trends and determining how they will specifically affect your industry, company, or position.
Juniper: Office Furniture for the Future
The future of work trends 2022 has brought may ultimately lead to some major changes. Between artificial intelligence and remote options, the workplace of tomorrow might not look like the workplace of today. But some things won’t change, like a commitment to employee well-being and community impact.
With the popularity of remote work, it’s essential to build an office that supports your employees' productivity and well-being. That’s where Juniper comes in. Discover modern office furniture today to usher your workplace into tomorrow.
- Gallup. The Future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions Answered With Data. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/390632/future-hybrid-work-key-questions-answered-data.aspx
- Forbes. In-Office Vs. Remote Vs. Hybrid Work Two Years Later: The Impact On Employee Efficiency. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/03/18/in-office-vs-remote-vs-hybrid-work-two-years-later-the-impact-on-employee-efficiency/?sh=28ead4172a25
- Harvard Business Review. It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work. https://hbr.org/2021/10/its-a-new-era-for-mental-health-at-work
- Forbes. For Millennials And Gen Zs, Social Issues Are Top Of Mind—Here’s How Organizations Can Drive Meaningful Change. https://www.forbes.com/sites/deloitte/2021/07/22/for-millennials-and-gen-zs-social-issues-are-top-of-mind-heres-how-organizations-can-drive-meaningful-change/?sh=6caee7d8450c
- Forbes. Maximizing Employee Engagement By Leveraging An Organizational Social Impact Strategy. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/05/07/maximizing-employee-engagement-by-leveraging-an-organizational-social-impact-strategy/?sh=6dbe97325629
- Forbes. How AI Will Impact The Future Of Work And Life. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/03/10/how-ai-will-impact-the-future-of-work-and-life/?sh=5295e3d479a3
- Brookings. The EU AI Act will have global impact, but a limited Brussels Effect.7 https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-eu-ai-act-will-have-global-impact-but-a-limited-brussels-effect/