What are the emerging workplace trends?
The workplace is settling into a new, post-covid normal as tech continues to move work-from-anywhere culture forward and people-centered practices stay in the spotlight. Meanwhile, the struggle to hold on to valuable employees continues as the move to the metaverse gathers pace. All this is the backdrop to the key trends set to dominate 2023.
1. VR for work
Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) have been making waves for the past few years. Now, VR in particular, set to start talking center stage in 2023.
The reasons for this are clear. Take training, for example: 34% of companies say VR and the metaverse can be a more effective way to train and develop their employees. When compared with in-person training, VR helps employees learn 4 times faster. And those trained with VR are up to 275% more confident about acting on what they’ve learned.
VR is also advancing thanks to the continuation of hybrid working. Working remotely means in-person collaboration is limited, which can lead to employees experiencing video call fatigue, with lack of access to coworkers’ body language and other non-verbal cues.
But applications like Workrooms and many others, will increasingly allow for fully immersive meetings – as if everyone is in the same room together – opening the door to a whole new way of collaborating and transforming the way teams work together.
2. Gen Z enters the workforce
Gen Z are now aging out of education, entering the workforce en masse and bringing a new outlook on work with them. They’re the least likely generation to stay in a job they’re unhappy with, whether that’s due to lack of aligning values, insufficient salary or being underappreciated. Where quiet quitting was the trend of 2022, Gen Z have taken it to the next level with ‘rage applying’ – channeling their anger at their jobs or bosses into mass applying for other jobs in the hope someone will come up with a better offer.
Hybrid working, mental health support and diversity are high on Gen Z’s list of workplace priorities. 46% of Gen Z say they’re stressed or anxious most of the time, citing their workload as the main cause. 63% of Gen Z feel hybrid working, as well as having mental health support at work, goes a long way to increasing their productivity and mental wellbeing.
3. Hybrid working
Though not new, remote work trends are expected to evolve further in 2023. While the upheaval of the pandemic led to widespread fully remote working, the trend now is increasingly towards a hybrid model where people split the week between being in a physical workplace and being in a remote location. This is expected to continue in 2023, with companies keen to have workers back in the office at least part of the time, evidenced by the number of advertisements for fully remote work falling.
4. The drive for sustainability
As the climate crisis worsens, being sustainable and environmentally friendly is growing in importance for businesses. In 2022, 79% of company executives see the world at a climate change tipping point. and are feeling pressure from their stakeholders to become more sustainable.
Globally, 60% of consumers take the sustainability of a product and brand into consideration when buying. Around a third of people are likely to actively choose the sustainable option, even if it’s a brand they haven’t used before. This is encouraging more and more businesses to ‘go green’.
The workforce is also pushing for sustainability. In 2020, 83% of people thought their workplace wasn’t doing enough to combat climate change. With more and more physical evidence of how climate change is affecting the planet, workers are beginning to call for sustainability from within, rather than waiting for it to come from the top down.
The drive for sustainability feeds into the continued demand for remote working. Globally, transportation accounted for 37% of CO2 emissions in 2021, with the highest proportion of this being road vehicles. The workforce is now pushing to continue working from home as a way to help combat climate change – from both a personal and professional standpoint.
Businesses are also likely to be pursuing B Corp certification. Greenwashing is becoming a thing of the past, with workplaces now making a concerted effort to help reverse the effects of climate change.
5. Wellbeing and positivity
Workplace wellbeing is set to become one of employers’ main weapons in the increasingly competitive war for talent. Happiness and wellbeing are of great value to employees, although, according to a survey by Indeed, only 49% say their employers are measuring them.
The study also shows that the more satisfied employees are at work, the less likely they’ll seek employment elsewhere. What’s more, wellbeing initiatives can mitigate against the destructive effects of burnout. Given this, it’s likely that companies will be focusing on wellbeing initiatives and benefits in the year to come.
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6. The 4-day work week
Trials of a 4-day working week have, so far, been a resounding success. In the 4 Day Week Global Study, 67% of the companies taking part say they’re definitely going to continue rather than going back to the traditional 5-day pattern. Despite fears to the contrary, productivity rose or stayed the same during the trial, and employee satisfaction and wellness improved. And, according to a study by Henley Business School, businesses that have trialed and implemented the 4-day week were found to have saved approximately £104 billion, or 2.2% of total turnover.
So, will more companies adopt a shorter week in 2023? According to one survey, 79% of recruiters think a 4-day week, without loss of pay, will be in place by 2030, so it’s reasonable to expect that this is an initiative that isn’t going away.
7. Skill-based hiring
Traditionally, education has been one of the biggest influences in deciding whether to hire someone. A candidate’s qualifications and which university they attended were thought to be the biggest indicators of how well they’d perform in a job. However, workplaces are now moving away from this approach.
Today, three-quarters of employers use skills-based hiring to find talent. Skills-based hiring involves using a series of role-specific tests to determine a candidate’s ability to do a job, as well as what else they might bring to the team.
Employees have also been honing their own skills, especially mid- and post-pandemic, when people spent time developing new work-related skills, either for fun or to help them find employment. And employers have found that skills-based hires are happier and more productive in their jobs than those hired using other methods.
8. Pushing DE&I forward
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), including gender, sexuality, disabilities, and neurodiversity, is already recognised as extremely important in the workplace. As well as being a matter of social justice, diversity offers huge benefits including the creativity and innovation that stems from a mix of viewpoints. A group of people with differing backgrounds are more likely to think of something original – and marketable – than a group of people from the same background.
It’s also something that’s increasingly important to employees: 81% say they’d consider leaving their job if they felt their workplace wasn’t doing enough to support DE&I.
9. Internal promotion and upskilling
Given the cost of recruitment and the upheaval caused by the Great Resignation of 2022, it’s not surprising that businesses are focused on employee retention in 2023. And part of that strategy is a focus on making the most of the human resources already available by upskilling and internal promotion – or ‘quiet hiring’ as Gartner calls it.
This approach is extremely useful in retention. Employees have always made it clear that learning opportunities are a main factor when deciding whether to take a job or promotion. And promoting people from within the company, instead of hiring someone new, signals to employees that opportunities are available to them.
Upskilling, or reskilling, works in a similar way. In order to retain employees, workplaces are now reskilling them to work in areas where they’d be most effective. It can be a much more cost-effective approach than external hiring, so it’s something we can expect to see more of in 2023.
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