The only sure thing, when predictions are made to mark the start of a fresh 12 month cycle, is that there will likely be a hefty dollop of ‘more of the same’ included in the mix.
Trends tend to last a period of years, often gathering momentum the longer they stick around, and this is true of office environments.
A regular ‘Gig’
The first prediction I would make for 2019 perfectly illustrates the case. The Gig Economy, which already has a fixed presence, will likely grow in 2019 as more freelancers enter the market place and companies outsource in order to deliver to very specific requirements and avoid long-term commitments in what is still a period of uncertainty.
Short-term contracts and freelance work, which make up the Gig Economy, are now prevalent across a lot of sectors and engaged on many levels and come with certain positives.
In terms of corporate and the private sector, in general, work is no longer tied to set locations, thanks largely to technology, which makes it more attractive to freelance workers, who can take on more projects and jobs across a wide geographical spread and not be tied to a specific desk in a specific place.
This type of flexibility especially appeals to Millennials, the younger generations who have entered the workforce in the last twenty years and who are most au fait with the latest technology. This group of workers changes jobs more frequently and is keen to feed a positive work life balance.
The new blend
See above but no surprises that Millennials will have a steadily climbing profile in the workplace over the next twelve months and beyond, along with the post-Millennials who are close at their heels, ready to join in and already making their presence felt.
We’re all nudging along and there will be more 16 to 24 year olds in the office going forward. Generation Z, the post-Millennial generation, is expected to make up over 35 per cent of the workforce by 2020. That’s not office specific but we can undoubtedly expect a large demographic shift. Big businesses have already started prepping for a cultural change and are adapting to ensure that they will attract the younger newbies who come loaded with expectation.
This blended workforce will be hugely beneficial if skills are shared and the more seasoned workers climb on board and ensure a smooth transition for their younger, less experienced colleagues. Both sides have a lot to offer and there is much to be gained from planned integration.
Squads, tribes, scrums and other ways of working
There’s certainly been an appetite to adopt a new lexicon for the different types of engagement that an agile working approach entertains. More companies will become agile this year, which is a more inclusive and empowering workplace model, essentially allowing individuals to be responsible for themselves, while encouraging knowledge-sharing and transparency.
Old styles of management and hierarchy don’t fit this open model hence the need for flexible groupings and different working styles. Expect office workers to be encouraged to ‘swarm’ more this year, forming organically into relevant groups based on tasks and projects. These groups will naturally shift, cross paths and overlap, with ‘cross-pollination’ creating new solutions and better results.
Yet more tech trends
It’s the gift that keeps on giving !
We can expect more artificial intelligence tools, drones, robots and augmented reality gadgets in the coming year. Digital twins will exist for many things and will be easily applicable to the office, with the major gain being a better understanding of how facilities are used and run.
All tech trends ultimately help humans to work more efficiently and are long-term cost-saving devices and so any digital twins have the potential to drive efficiencies and improvements, which should impact positively on profits down the line.
Keeping green and healthy
Most good employers are mindful of the importance of employee well-being and office design is intrinsically linked to this state. From keeping spaces ventilated, at the right temperature and utilising natural light to providing showers, bike racks, free fruit and healthy vending solutions, businesses will continue to recognise the need for improving changes.
Biophilic design will definitely be on the wish list for many who are keen to create environments that enhance well-being in the months ahead.
For those who don’t have the space or budget to create experience driven spaces, such as games rooms and exercise studios, having areas of calm that boast living walls and soothing designs will ensure that they are providing some sort of oasis for the team and breaking up corporate space.