Workplace trends that will dominate in 2020

Workplace trends that will dominate in 2020

THE way we work is forever changing.

New technologies and trends that came into force this year have had a significant impact on the world of work. 5G is already speeding up day-to-day tasks, employee well-being has become a key focus for businesses, workers are demanding more flexibility and a whole new generation has joined the workforce. For businesses looking to gain a competitive edge or win the battle for top talent, recognising and exploiting these movements may be what sets them apart in the year ahead.

Employee well-being no longer a nice-to-have

Employee well-being has been an area of increased focus for businesses this year. There has been an increased awareness of burnout at work and the detrimental effect this can have on physical and mental health. A recent Levell study found that 60% of workers experience performance drops as a result of chronic stress and burnout in the workplace, whilst Kronos research shows that 95% of HR leaders think that stress is “sabotaging workforce retention”.

So how do businesses tackle burnout and re-engage employees? One method that has gained attention is practising mindfulness at work, with firms like McKinsey, Nike, Google and Apple all implementing programmes ranging from meditation to courses of cognitive behavioural training. These techniques can refocus and relax employees, with neurological studies showing that meditation can increase the areas of the brain that can regulate emotion, improve attention span, increase job performance and productivity, as well as improving job satisfaction at work.

Workers worldwide demand flexibility

Today, the option for flexible working is not just wanted by workers, but demanded, with 45% of firms implementing flexible working policies for this reason alone. Flexible working has emerged as a super trend, with 62% of businesses worldwide now offering a flexible working policy. Rapid technological advancements and the growing globalisation of the workplace have enabled this movement to expand. Flexible working embraces employees’ differences and allows them the freedom to work in a way that suits them from starting earlier or later to working from outside of the office.

When firms allow their people more autonomy over their working day it increases employee satisfaction, workforce retention, loyalty and well-being. Flexible working policies benefit employers as well, with the IWG global workspace survey finding that most business leaders believe these policies improve workplace efficiency, with more than two-thirds saying they increase productivity by 20% or more.

Not only this, but employees that take advantage of flexible working policies are shown to be absent less often, as they are able to adjust their work schedule in line with their life outside of work.

Generation Z join the workforce

This year saw Generation Z enter the workforce for the first time. They are known as the first fully digital generation, with studies showing that 60% of Generation Z prefer to learn through YouTube tutorials and videos. This presents a new challenge for HR, who will need to adapt existing training to incorporate more visual methods to engage with these social media natives.

Generation Z also have different outlooks and ideals compared to their predecessors. A recent Deloitte report stated that they place more emphasis on diversity and religion than their elders. Businesses can no longer rely on favourable reputation and social responsibility alone, but need to demonstrate equality and care for their workforce to attract the top Gen Z talent.

5G speeds up the workplace

This year, the world was introduced to 5G networks, promising firms significantly faster connection speeds, quicker response times and greater reliability than the 4G networks. This new generation technology will see lag time become almost none existent, with data being shared in close to real time.

Businesses will be able to perform more complex tasks with the speed and power opening up new, immersive possibilities. Also, 5G will help with the digitasation and automation of more processes to support new levels of productivity for firms. Despite 5G still being in its infancy, those able to adapt and adopt ahead of the competition will reap the rewards in the future.

Flexible workspaces

Flexibility has been the word of 2019, with flexible workspaces also growing in importance for businesses. They offer people the ability to work from an environment that suits them, whether that be an office closer to home to reduce their commute or in a building that they love in their favourite city.

Giving employees the chance to work from flexible workspaces has been shown to increase productivity, with 54% of employees saying that remote working enables them to get more done. Research from IWG’s annual Global Workspace Survey also revealed that 65% of people believe that being able to tailor their work environment makes them more productive – win win opportunity for organisations in 2020.

2020 opportunities

By using technology, supporting well-being and encouraging flexible working, new generations are able to keep up with the evolution of the modern workplace. This will help benefit both businesses and their employees, by improving productivity, profitability and employee well-being.

The pace of change across all aspects of our lives can seem incredible, especially in a world where 5G enables instant connections. Businesses must be alive to these changes and think about how they can exploit them to gain competitive advantage and attract top talent. Those that don’t, may not be around to see next year’s trends.

Supplied by workspace providers, International Workplace Group.

7 tips on handling tech addiction in the workplace

7 tips on handling tech addiction in the workplace

Unless you’re a Luddite (a person opposed to new technology or ways of working), you won’t have failed to appreciate how tech has transformed the workplace. 

While offices were once seas of paperwork, travel expense slips, fax machines and cellphones the size of bricks, the evolution of modern technology has consigned them all to history.  

Now that we have high-speed internet, smartphones, IP telephony like Skype, social networking sites, chat apps and cloud computing, the 21st-century work environment has been totally reshaped. With the touch of a button, distances have become immaterial and communication instantaneous. Knowledge is now shared freely and things get done faster. 

With these technological advances comes a new workforce: an ever-expanding pool of digital nomads who are used to plugging in anywhere, at any time – a dynamic bunch who avoid the constraints of working from one set place and doing the standard 9 to 5. So far, so good. 

But let’s remove the blinkers. While mobile technology may have allowed us to move beyond the four walls of the traditional office, allowing us to work on the go, this digital revolution does not come without its downsides.  

Global flexible workspace provider IWG, Spaces, shares a few tips to make this possible:

1. Taking it too far

There’s a thin line between using technology so it is beneficial, and taking it too far. Sadly, a growing number of people are overstepping it, so much so that we’re always looking at our emails, chatting on WhatsApp and communicating via social media. 

A  2017 UK study from Ofcom found that 34% of people surveyed had checked Facebook in the past 10 minutes. In short, we’re addicted to tech and it is eating up our time and attention, particularly in the workplace. 

Every time our smartphone buzzes or our laptop pings we get distracted. If our line of thought is interrupted, it takes a while to get back on track. Precious time and productivity are lost.
But the misuse of technology can do more than compromise productivity, it can impact on our mental well-being. The new “always on” culture is blurring the distinction between work and life. 

According to an IDC report, 80% of smartphone users said that checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning. We don’t give ourselves a digital break and this can, according to Deloitte Insights, lead to stress and anxiety, depression, poor sleep and physical disconnection.

So, while technology in the workplace is a blessing, it can also be a curse. After all, what business wants a preoccupied, ineffective, stressed-out employee? 
Luckily, there are ways to a more balanced approach to technology. 

2. Get cultured

Having the right company culture when it comes to technology goes a long way to moderating usage. A healthy technology policy, with clear communication guidelines, is vital. Ensure, for example, that team members are aware of when remote workers are online and when it is or isn’t okay to contact them. 
Create awareness through talks and workshops of how overuse of devices can have detrimental effects.  

3. Establish boundaries
Help employees understand what is expected of them, especially when it comes to working hours. Make sure there’s a clear end point to their day and that you don’t overstep it. Just because someone can be contacted when they’re not in the office, doesn’t mean they need to be. Likewise, as an employee, if you’re working remotely, set your hours and stick to them.

4. Make productivity count
If you want your workforce to understand that disconnecting is okay, put emphasis on productivity rather than availability. Staff should not be rewarded for being at the end of a smartphone to answer the boss’s email at silly o’clock. Rather, they should be given credit for completing a great piece of work on schedule. 

5. Get ‘Appy’
It sounds ironic, but technology can be used as a means of avoiding technology. Give employees access to screen-time apps that can remind them to take a break if they’ve been emailing or texting for long periods, curb social media use and create blocklists. 

6. Stick to the plan
Once you have policies in place, make sure everyone sticks to them. If managers and team leaders are constantly checking their phones 24/7, it sends out the wrong message. Those at the top should be inspiring the team to use their smartphones as a means of efficiency, not as a distraction.

7. Keep it real
Encourage face-to-face meetings and social interaction with colleagues. There’s nothing like a group lunch or a brainstorm to foster team spirit and get the creative juices flowing. 
When a get-together takes place, ensure that it is a screen-free zone. If seeing people in person isn’t possible, encourage employees to stay connected in real time by picking up the phone instead of sending messages or emails. Sometimes, it is good to talk.

Supplied by workspace providers, International Workplace Group.

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