Full-time telecommuting—an experience that has substantially changed people’s views on where and how we’re most productive. Team distribution and remote culture are two of the trends that will define the future of workplace dynamics. Meanwhile, a widespread adoption of robust technologies is another driving force shaping the image of the post-pandemic workplace.
As 2022 has just started, we want to figure out where we’re all headed as we get into the new age of intelligent process automation, contactless interactions, and digital working environments. So, we are going backstage to the workplace of the future, are you with us?
A glimpse of the post-pandemic workplace
It is hardly possible to return to the former business as usual. The needs of the workforce are evolving together with technology, and the result is transformational. The workplace of the future will offer comfort, safety, and freedom of choice. And here we are not just talking about top-notch software, effective cloud strategies, and updated security measures. We are also referring to a culture and workflow that underlie this flexible and safe environment where employees are trusted to do their job in a way that fits them.
We all need to prepare for pivotal shifts that will reshape the way we work and how companies operate. So, what transformations should employers and employees prepare for? Below we have listed the most important post-pandemic workplace trends to help you evaluate the impact they will have on your operations and long-term goals.
The future of workplace operations: AI-augmented and robotics-supported workforce
Fifty-nine percent of businesses will increase tech budgets in 2022. Why? There are several reasons including the unprecedented spending on software, collaboration tools, and cloud computing called upon to facilitate telecommuting and acceleration of business process automation.
It is worth noting that 50 percent of executives will speed up the automation of routine tasks in the short run. As companies start to rely on robotics more, the workplace will undergo a series of crucial changes. So, what can intelligent automation mean for the future of workplace operations?
- Changing roles
The demand for knowledge-based, analytical roles increases along with the adoption of RPA, AI, ML, and IoT technologies. Though these innovations allow employees to focus on higher value areas, they also generate a need for workforce reskilling and upskilling. Finally, process automation will not just create new roles but also turn human intelligence, agility, and decision-making into in-demand skills for the future of work.
- AI-powered teams
AI-based systems and tools can analyze and interpret large volumes of data, delivering highly accurate and actionable insights. This helps organizations enhance decision-making in all business areas and provide guidance to keep team members highly focused on critical company activities. New advances in this technology help employees prioritize tasks, plan their activities, and find working methods that suit them best. What’s more, integrating AI into already skilled teams can empower them to yield superior results.
Despite concerns about worker replacement by robots and AI, we can expect future workplace technology to help unlock employees’ creativity and support them with intelligent tools and valuable insights.
Hybrid work models to rule in 2022
During COVID-19, we’ve witnessed a positive response to telecommuting. Moreover, 90 percent of employees are happy with the increased freedom they now have performing remotely.
In 2022, supporting employees means allowing them to work from anywhere and granting more flexibility for self-management. Organizations are reconsidering their approach to a default, centralized workplace and looking to introduce a hybrid arrangement to combine the best of remote and office work.
There’s no one-size-fits-all hybrid model, so you will need to design one that aligns with your company culture and people. It will require an entire rethink of the future workplace, processes, communication, and policies. Avoid making top-down decisions and co-create the new work model with employees. Define what purpose the office will have in the hybrid environment and create clear policies and procedures. By doing so you can help teams transition smoothly and benefit from the workplace of the future.
Physical office transformations for safe and seamless collaboration
In 2022, offices will still exist, but they’ll be modified and have a new purpose. Instead of being a place employees must go to by default, they will become corporate centers that boost socialization and innovation.
While people perform individual, concrete tasks more effectively from home, some activities like team collaboration and brainstorming turn out to be less effective when done remotely. So, as soon as offices are perceived as updated, post-pandemic workplaces, they should be redesigned to promote communication, creativity, and team spirit.
Later, companies will review their real estate portfolios. Most will scale them back, redistribute space, or introduce agile workplaces. Some companies anticipate office space downsizing that will depend on the number of days employees attend the office. For instance, Starbucks plans to test an agile environment with employees reserving desks when they need to collaborate in groups.
Additionally, post-pandemic return to work will feature some tech office innovations to improve safety. Touchless entries, people-counting sensors, cleaning robots, wellness checks, and other advancements will ensure a healthier and more convenient space for employees.
To sum up, the key to a future workplace is to be strategic about the office and make sure it’s a highly functional, fit-for-purpose place.
Given the fundamental changes in working culture and environment, human resources roles and functions will play a crucial part in reimagining the future of workplace dynamics. Currently, HR managers are expected to keep and nurture corporate culture, engagement, and collaboration, while still ensuring the necessary working flexibility and self-management.
So, a hybrid model has emerged as a balancing act for most companies. To make it work, HR leaders will need to cooperate closely with managers and team leads to build a culture of openness and trust. Additionally, we recommend updating your onboarding strategy, introducing regular feedback, holding training sessions, and creating online socialization spaces for your teams.
How to build the workplace of the future and boost employee satisfaction
Many recent studies repeat the same message that the shift to employee-driven culture will force organizations to reinvent the post-pandemic workplace continuously. It is also worth mentioning that today people are more likely than ever to leave a job if it does not respond to their needs. The Great Resignation proves that most employees are refusing to put up with poor working conditions. So, it is no surprise that as many as 4.4 million US employees left their jobs in September 2021.
After the turbulence that your employees have survived, they expect employers to consider their personal and psychological needs. This fact is crucial, since staff satisfaction boosts productivity and, eventually, your bottom line. In fact, happy employees are 13 percent more productive. So how to achieve that and prepare for the future of workplace improvement? Below we share our best practices:
1. Put employee experience at the top of your agenda
A company is only as good as the people it employs. So, if you want to prosper in 2022, you will need to guarantee excellent experiences to the workforce. The growing quit rates force more executives to become employee advocates and develop dedicated programs. Here are some tactics you can apply to respond to the personal and professional requirements of the future of workplace spaces:
- Recognize top performers
Recognition is vital for building a connected culture that maintains healthy and productive relationships. Thirty-seven percent of employees see personal recognition from their managers as motivation to perform better. So, be sure to elaborate on your recognition program and dedicate time to praise the top players.
- Establish a transparent communication and feedback strategy
Developing effective internal communication is paramount in managing remote teams and keeping the lines open between managers and employees. By doing so, you’ll eliminate disconnection, misunderstanding, and frustration. Start with evaluating your existing strategy and internal communication tools and proceed with analyzing roadblocks and management concerns to ensure smooth collaboration.
2. Pave the way to hybrid and flexible schedules
Hybrid working models are an inevitable future of workplace practice for many businesses. Continuously seeking feedback and listening to the workforce will help you ensure the hybrid environment is working. It is also important to monitor, optimize, and upgrade software tools to create more inclusive and collaborative work experiences for everyone. Moreover, employees anticipate the post-pandemic workplace to support their work-life balance. So, introducing flexible working hours is an excellent way to improve satisfaction.
3. Prioritize employee well-being
Another key direction is the support of employees’ mental, financial, and physical health. Depression, burnout, and anxiety are among the most common reasons for poor mental conditions that cost the US economy up to $225 billion annually. So, how to prevent that in the workplace of the future? Create and nurture a corporate culture that takes care of employees’ well-being by:
- Investing in mental and emotional wellness
- Offering career and personal development opportunities
- Providing medical assistance during difficult situations
- Creating channels for social connection
By doing so, you will foster staff loyalty and the ambition to become the best in their job.
4. Take advantage of technology to build the workplace of the future
Technology can’t fully substitute in-person interactions, but it allows us to enhance those connections in a digital world. The future of workplace operations will feature people in the room videoconferencing with others from home for most meetings. So, the use of online collaborative tools will promote better connection and employee engagement.
What’s more, investment in AI and intelligent automation can push your company closer to the future of workplace spaces by releasing your staff from routine tasks and empowering them with robust tools.
The future workplace: from organizations to people
The shift to telecommuting was challenging. So will be the move to hybrid models. However, we need to accept the changes and adapt to avoid business disruptions.
Consider the evolved needs of your people regarding mental and emotional wellness, work flexibility, and the post-pandemic workplace. Your employees are behind any business success, so it’s vital to invest in their experience to retain top talent. Break down silos and overcome telecommuting challenges to connect staff with the company vision, business goals, and each other.