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Workplace Trends – work reinvented

We are exposed to the world of work on a daily basis, its evolution and complexities, and at the centre of it, us, humans. How is the workplace changing at such a fast pace? Probably because as humans, our nature is to constantly look at ways to optimise our surroundings and any activities we undertake.

As members of Worktech Academy we have access to the latest thinking and insights on the workplace and we wanted to share with you some trends that that are shaping the world of work:

Workplace Strategy

A shift of emphasis from physical place to personal performance will see FM and HR work together more closely in an evidence-based world over the next year.

Traditional approaches to workplace strategy have tried to improve productivity by making the space more efficient and cutting facility costs. However, with a growing body of evidence that even minor gains in employee productivity can have a significant impact, 2019 will see the focus shift further towards performance over place. This emphasises the role of HR – typically tasked with quality of employee experience – and suggests that they will have greater ownership over the physical workspace than has typically been the case. The need to deliver an aligned experience will therefore require integrated HR/ FM strategies across typically siloed departments. It will also need to be grounded in data to examine how people think, feel and behave, drawing on a wide range of data sources such as internal apps, connected sensors and wearables to make responsive, evidence-based decisions.

Workplace experience

Workplace experience has risen rapidly up the business agenda – expect that trend to increase in 2019 amid an accelerating race for talent.

The clue is in the new job titles starting to emerge inside corporate organisations - Chief Experience Officer (CEXO), Chief Technology Officer or even Vibe Manager. They are the people now being given overall responsibility for delivering a better workplace experience – and in 2019 and beyond, experience design is set to be a bigger deal than ever before. Previously, workplace experience fell between the three stools of HR, IT and facilities. Today, however, in a more exacting and competitive business world where talent is at a premium, companies are paying closer attention to the wider experiential dimension of the workplace and its impact on behaviour, motivation and performance. Just as online shopping has disrupted the physical retail experience, digital disruption in the workplace is having the same effect on office design. Indeed, there is a transfer of many of the service-driven techniques of retail and hospitality to the workplace – and a host of new experiences which treat the workforce more like customers than employees. 

Amenities

Attracting the best talent will require that increasing attention be paid to the quality and diversity of amenity provision.

Where long leases, low tenant expectations and a minimal need to foster customer loyalty have stunted innovation in the commercial real estate industry for years, an inversion of power in the workplace is transforming traditional models. The era of personalisation and significant changes in expectations around consumer experiences – coupled with the ongoing war for talent – are raising the bar for employee expectations in the workplace. With office space viewed as a potential differentiator in this competitive landscape, 2019 will see an ever-increasing emphasis on the quality and diversity of amenities provision in developments around the world. Food, gym and meeting facilities are now expected as standard. With the blurring of boundaries between personal and professional life, additional amenities that provide essential support to the lives of employees – whether in carrying out daily tasks or facilitating personal interests and hobbies – are increasingly being considered, resulting in diverse, wellbeing focused amenity provisions.

Health and Wellbeing

After the biophilic walls and fitness classes, the next big wave in workplace wellbeing is set to be the provision of onsite health clinics.

The health and wellbeing movement in the corporate world has seen workplaces transform into jungles of plants, breathing walls and rooftop gardens while offering fitness classes and spaces for mental restoration – it is a trend which has been embraced by most organisations to some degree. In 2019, corporates will take employee health and wellbeing even further in the form of onsite clinics. Building onsite or near-onsite health clinics enables the employer to offer competitive benefits, control costs and provide quality healthcare to employees. People are increasingly taking control of their own health; this means they are simultaneously demanding more from their employer to offer better health packages. Onsite clinics can provide services such as DNA testing and one-to-one specialist health coaching; this moves away from the generic health offering and gives employees a degree of personalisation in relation to their health tracking.

Engagement

As low employee engagement levels continue to be a drag on company productivity, performance management processes are set for a big rethink.

While Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report identified some improvements on previous years in terms of engagement, it still highlighted that 85 per cent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. This has serious implications for organisational performance, with disengaged employees less likely to be performing at their best; the economic consequences have been estimated to be US $7 trillion in lost productivity. Although it is not the only factor, there is emerging evidence that the management of performance and personal development is misfiring. While there are increasing workforce expectations around a sense of purpose and opportunities to develop, traditional annual reviews do little for engagement in terms of identifying development potential or discussing ongoing performance. As a result, 2019 will see traditional performance management processes being updated and replaced by regular one-to one sessions with line managers supported by new HR software platforms to facilitate the measuring and management of constant feedback.

Collaboration

As we shift from momentary to continuous collaboration, we are moving into the sphere of ‘co-everything’

Collaboration is moving from a series of discrete, unconnected events to one continuous and resilient workstream. In recent years the big focus has been coworking, but the next wave of collaboration is taking this one step further to co-everything. Organisations will reconsider how their employees can best work together in a continuous workstream, from co-authoring and co-creating to co-innovation. This means the digital and physical environment will have to mirror this paradigm – moving on from the ad-hoc meeting culture of the past to creating spaces which blend physical design features with digital integration to create areas for continuous collaboration. Collaborative technologies such as the Microsoft Surface hub will be used more frequently, and information can be shared instantly and stored in the cloud.

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