There is a lot of momentum behind the changes we have seen during the pandemic. So, we are still yet to see even more changes and developments as we head into 2022.
Our working lives have already changed considerably since the pandemic. But like everything these days, the only thing that is constant is change. And that is not going to stop in 2022.
So, I think this is worth discussing.
Here are five predictions that I believe could happen in 2022.
1. Flexible working will become the norm
Well obviously! We already know this. Top candidates want flexible working enshrined as a mandatory requirement for all competitive job packages. There are candidates who are quitting their jobs because they don't feel their employers will give them decent flexible working options.
The difference is that while workers in 2021 may feel left in limbo on flexible working, in 2022 companies will have to put formal policies in place on this issue.
I think it’s worth noting that flexible working doesn’t mean working remotely 100%. It is more about having the freedom to decide when and where you want to work. That could still be in the office 100%.
I believe in 2022 we will see flexible working become the norm. It will cement itself as part of our work-life culture as the global economy fully recovers.
2. We will see the development of a workplace ecosystem
This is something I don't hear discussed often. For the past decade or so, we've been told by economists that productivity has been on the decline. This has been attributed to ageing populations and a declining workforce. However, this doesn't account for the tremendous technological improvements we have seen in the workplace in just 18 months. I’m talking about the technology that allows us to work from home and flexibly.
I believe the workplace will become a lot more agile in 2022. There will be less barriers geographically between employees. Face-to-face meetings will still occur, but digital communication will also be widely accepted.
I think what we will see is that offices will play a very different role in our working lives.
Rather than being used to enforce automatic daily reporting they will be used to bring employees together and encourage innovation and networking.
3. Offices will be redesigned
This follows on from the previous point. The office will be redesigned in a way to make employees want to visit.
We already saw this trend prior to the pandemic. A good example is Google. It offered employees in Zürich meeting rooms in gondolas, slides between floors and a Heidi theme song to call workers to have a coffee break. There are also free massages offered and refrigerators that are perpetually stocked with refreshing drinks.
What does this mean for the future? I believe offices will be built with better architecture and design. Employees will be offered free healthy food and gym memberships. Quiet and wellness areas could be introduced to help employees relax.
Companies who want their employees to return to the office may have no choice but to upgrade their office infrastructure. If they don’t do this, then they should at least offer flexible working.
4. We could see greater geographical diversity among the workforce
One of the interesting changes that the pandemic brought was that geography no longer matters. Widespread videoconferencing has broken down barriers permanently. It has brought teams spread across continents together.
This could lead to a more geographically diverse workforce in 2022. Within Switzerland, it may no longer matter which canton you live in. It might be difficult to commute daily from Graubünden to Zürich or from Valais to Geneva, but these distances wouldn't matter with flexible working. If you only need to go to the office once a week, a commute like this would be very manageable.
5. Upskilling and digital dexterity will outweigh tenure and experience
This is something that we don't tend to talk about. It's not really a popular topic. We tend to place a lot of value on tenure and experience. And we should because it is important. But what's also becoming increasingly important is the need to upskill and work towards greater digital dexterity.
At a very basic level, this might include setting up a video conference call. Most of us are capable of doing this now since the pandemic. But our digital skills could go beyond this and include coding and social media skills and expertise.
Some final words
I think there is a lot of momentum behind the changes we have seen during the pandemic. So, we are still yet to see even more changes and developments as we head into 2022.