The 2023 trends that will shape the future of work

Every aspect of businesses is prone to change, and the workplace is no exception.

Over the past few years, COVID-19, the Great Resignation and continued economic uncertainty have created a new world of work. Now, as technology becomes more innovative and societal needs evolve, it’s time to look ahead to 2023 and the workplace trends that we can expect to see.

Here are four predictions about the future of work next year:

Hybrid and remote working aren’t going anywhere

Despite many organisations encouraging a return to the office, employees aren’t letting go of hybrid and remote work. There is an active tug of war happening between what employers want, relative to returning to the office versus employees, who want the flexibility to decide where they work on any given day.

Many organisations are still struggling with getting the balance right and this period of experimentation will continue well into 2023 as organisations establish and adapt their hybrid working strategies. In fact, 79% of leaders are actively re-evaluating their hybrid workplace structures to ensure they line up with what workers want. This includes surveying and polling workers to assess what is working with the hybrid policy, what workers need and adjusting the workplace accordingly.

More organisations will consolidate office space

Covid-19 caused a great deal of disruption for many organisations in the UK. This in turn caused a knock-on effect whereby office space requirements have significantly reduced and businesses are looking to consolidate their work environments. In fact, recent research has revealed that around 1.8 million square metres of UK office workspace was no longer being utilised in the year ending March 2022.

Due to long term leases and building ownership, organisations won’t be able to downsize their office space overnight, but we can expect to see consolidation efforts accelerate in 2023 as organisations reap the benefits of bringing together multiple offices into one place. Not only are the financial savings significant, but using the office space in this way gives employees more flexibility and encourages teams to come to the workspace to collaborate.

Technology will enable employees to use the office with purpose and flexibility

Flexibility 2.0 is to give each individual worker personal choice. Being told they can work from home for three days, and in the office the other two isn’t really freedom if it’s being commanded. Some want more office time. Some, less. Some need flexibility over which days they are, and some would like to make spontaneous decisions in real time.

As we’ve only just navigated ‘flexible working 1.0’, this requires another mindset shift for organisations. But, to offer true flexible working, and to bridge the disconnect, also requires a technical shift.

If workers are to be given individual input and freedom around where they work, in an instant, they need to know what is possible in terms of office capacity and wider workplace usage. There needs to be mutual visibility and transparency around office demand at all times.

Next year, we can expect to see developments in workplace management technology which enables employees to use the office with purpose and flexibility. For example, team leaders will be able to book desks for the whole team and there will be visibility as to which teams are in the office on certain dates and times. 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.

Collaborative spaces will be key

The workplace is now a broad and integrated conversation, that is more than just a simple desk. There has been a significant shift towards more project based spaces, collaborative settings, and larger areas for teams and departments to come together, that have a greater event based focus than standard meeting rooms.

Since an integral part of business is collaborating with colleagues, having spaces that make it easier for teams to meet both formally and informally is essential. In fact, organisations could gain $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value from helping employees improve their teamwork, according to a McKinsey study.

And the benefits are not just financial. Collaboration leads to happier, more satisfied employees. In a virtuous cycle, employees who are more comfortable in their environments are better poised to do their best work, raising overall productivity.

As we move into 2023, organisations need to re-imagine what kind of space and dynamic they now need that caters for collaboration and the future of work.

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