Ten workplace predictions for 2022
This is the third post in a new series of compelling content titled Matrix: Future Workplace Forum, which will share with you what is going on in workplace, including live interactive webinars and in-person events.
Happy New Year to you. We hope that 2022 is a year of optimism for you and improves upon 2021. We wanted to share with you our “Top Ten” predictions for Workplace in 2022. Let us know your thoughts by commenting…
1. Return to the office: the sequel
In the summer of 2021 there was a big push by organisations of all sizes to return to the office. Whilst many offices remain open, UK Government guidance is still to work from home if you can. By the end of Q1, we would expect to see occupancy in offices to increase once again. Occupancy should peak prior to the summer holiday season. This will represent an opportunity to re-energise with a return to the office for many teams and organisations.
2. Utilisation Data will become the #1 Statistic for C-Suite
As working patterns gently settle and people adjust to the new ways of hybrid working, the next question will inevitably shift towards the role of our offices. Organisations will start considering how the property portfolio needs to adapt to enable hybrid working to be successful moving forwards. The questions asked by the C-Suite will be “how do we get the right mix of offsite and off site working?” “Do we have the right property strategy to attract and retain talent?” “Are there cost saving opportunities where the savings could be better spent on our staff?”
All of these questions will require one key metric to be accurately collected and presented, which is how much space is being used. Utilisation data from building systems such as access control and more advanced technologies such as occupancy sensors, can provide an understanding of actual levels of space usage. This data can be used to model and scenario plan “what if” analyses that could combine survey data around how teams want to work moving forwards. Expect to hear the C-Suite ask for much more data around how buildings are being used in 2022.
3. Lease disposals will accelerate
Whilst many leases will be tied up for the next few years, options will start to become available with break options. For many occupiers, each lease break provides an opportunity to reconsider the future for their portfolio. Many organisations will use lease breaks as opportunities to reduce their leased space, owing to the reduced requirement for office based working. There have been broad announcements by many leading organisations that they plan to reduce their overall portfolio by anywhere between 20% and 50%. Expect to see more lease disposals and more vacant office space during 2022.
4. Focus on employee experience
Employee experience is defined by our perceptions around our journeys through work; the thoughts and feelings we have throughout the working day. For many organisations they will be seeking to elevate experience in the new world of hybrid working. This will span beyond the office and into the home, where companies will invest to ensure employees have the right equipment and technology to work effectively at home.
5. Buildings to become hybrid enabled
Moving forwards we will see our offices evolve to meet the requirements of hybrid working. Meeting rooms will be fitted out with videoconferencing equipment to enable a combination of physical and virtual attendees. Rows of fixed assigned desks will be converted into various social meeting settings. Expect to see the office become more like a business lounge, providing a variety of furniture and collaboration settings to entice people back in.
6. Curated events to build team cohesion
How do we encourage our teams to come into the office to create that buzz and atmosphere that is lacking with home working? No one wants to commute into the office and find it empty and spend all day on video calls… Expect to see organisations curate shared experiences across teams. Perhaps Sales and Marketing meet on Tuesdays for a team lunch and evening activities. These curated events should enable a “pull effect” to entice people back in, creating a regular rota where teams can have critical mass in the office to effectively collaborate in person.
7. Healthier and smarter buildings
We are all much more aware of our health, our environment, and our surroundings. Smart buildings will continue to be embedded with technologies that enable self-awareness of their air quality, temperature, humidity, and occupancy levels. These smart buildings will be able to auto correct their environments to ensure the building is optimised for the number of actual occupants. Smart cleaning and touchless interfaces will continue to be deployed in our buildings.
8. Increased co-habitation and cross-org sharing or workspaces
As the portfolio continues to be right-sized, there will be opportunities for organisations to co-habit and share workspaces as a service. Coworking options will be used as “swing space” for organisations. Others will replace their leased buildings with coworking memberships entirely. We expect to see commercial organisations start to share leases with other companies. Organisations with long term leases will sub-lease buildings and even floors to share the cost. Perhaps commercial organisations will follow the lead set by the UK public sector in the use of Cross-Organisation sharing, where multiple organisations share usage of a building to provide cost savings and improved workplaces for all stakeholders.
9. Person to desk ratios will never be the same again
For many organisations the Person to Desk ratio has always been 1:1, with the concept of an assigned desk baked into the culture of the firm. Prior to the pandemic organisations dipping their toes into flexible working would have 1.2 or 1.5 people assigned to 1 desk, as the majority of people would be office based. Moving forwards, expect to see the person to desk ratios to be well north of 2 or 3 people assigned to 1 desk. For other organisations the concept of assigned desks might be over entirely: the office becoming like a “members lounge” where you book what work settings you need, when you need it, based upon the tasks you have to complete.
10. Work from anywhere will be the dafault
What is very clear from how we have responded to the pandemic is that our ways of working have changed irrevocably. Work is no longer somewhere we go, it is something that we do. Location has been forever severed from where that work can be completed. Whilst the office will continue to play a key role in our working lives, the default will be working from anywhere: customer sites, shared offices, business lounges, and our homes. Every organisation has enabled these ways of working as a result of the lockdowns. 2022 is the year where our buildings and workplaces start to catch up.
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