We have found ourselves in the middle of a global transformation like never before. Things are changing rapidly and it’s getting harder to imagine what the world will look like in one year, let alone in five years. As we are approaching the first anniversary of the beginning of the biggest office transformation in history, vaccines are starting to roll out in record time. And the future suddenly looks much brighter than it was six months ago. This all shows that if humans come together, they can achieve the seemingly impossible. From the teams of nurses taking care of the sickest ones, to scientists dedicating their lives to finding a vaccine, and people in New Zealand, Australia and Asian countries who, thanks to their collective effort, were able to bring the spread of the virus to an absolute minimum.
People have an amazing ability to adapt. And today, it’s easier than ever thanks to the innovations and digital technologies that have given us the tools to continue to work under new conditions. Now, almost one year into the pandemic, it’s a good time to reflect and try to prepare for what’s ahead. We looked at the recent trends and current outlooks and we are bringing you five predictions for the future of work.
1. Health comes first
The mental and physical health of employees plays a key role in their performance and development. And more importantly, a lack of stress and a healthy lifestyle can improve immunity, which can stand between life and death when it comes to illnesses like COVID-19. Companies are starting to realize that. Therefore, in 2021 and the years ahead, we will see more investments into tools that will help employees maintain healthy habits at work, like Height Adjustable Desks that have a proven positive effect on many aspects of people’s lives.
In this study from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, 47% of participants using height adjustable desks reported a decrease in upper body pain, 65% of participants reported an increase in productivity, and 65% of participants reported positive impact outside of the workplace.
2. Workplace reimagined
People have already been working from home for years. But the last couple of months have accelerated this trend and we’ve suddenly come to realize that workers can be at least as productive from home as they were at the office. Plus, we could potentially save hours per day commuting. And not to mention the reduced burden on the environment in terms of fewer emissions. While we enjoy all these benefits, human contact is irreplaceable. Emotions help us to communicate and it’s harder to fully express ourselves or understand others while on camera. Therefore, we will see a comeback of the office.
The office will remain a hub for collaboration and sharing of ideas. But not quite in the form we know it. Companies will reimagine their expansive headquarters filled with separated workstations. The focus will be on efficient, modest buildings that will invite employees to share their ideas and collaborate in an open and healthy environment. Collaborative hubs will start popping up, not only in the big cities but also in suburbs, following the workers moving away from the city.
3. Flexible hours becoming the norm
Given the uprise of remote work, companies will realize that instead of strictly focusing their hiring efforts on the area where their business is located, they can expand their options and access a pool of talents from all around the world. It will be a hit to the classic model of a “nine to five work schedule” when suddenly you have team members working in different time zones. Flexible hours will allow employees to balance between their work and personal life and will give them more space and initiative on how to achieve their goals. And we know that more space encourages creativity.
4. Digitalization and AI acceleration
Digital technology has already helped us to connect from various locations and to collaborate. It will be even easier to do so and we will be able to achieve more while working remotely or on the go, thanks to new tech, acceleration in VR or software and services like Microsoft Viva. Imagine walking through the warehouse, or prototyping a product while having all the related data always visible and at the same time sending an image of what you see to your colleague across the globe. Despite some fears, AI will not replace our jobs. Instead, it will help us accomplish more and focus on what’s really important while taking care of stressful, repetitive basic tasks that were consuming our time. That way, the human brain will be able to focus on more complex, bigger things that matter.
5. Sustainability and environment at the forefront
Future-focused and innovative companies are starting to realize the burden of what we, as humans, place on nature. And that if we continue, in a few decades, there may not be nature anymore. For example, the tech conglomerate company Siemens cut its emissions by 54% in 2020 and is aiming to achieve carbon dioxide neutrality by 2030. As sustainability comes to the forefront of our doing, we will see more greenery in the workplace. And it’s not a mystery that being surrounded by nature is good for our health. The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace study found that people who worked in spaces with natural features reported 15% higher levels of overall wellbeing. Furthermore, the respondents expressed feeling 6% more productive and 15% more creative.
We are entering a truly exciting period.