2016 saw a huge surge in millennials in the marketplace. As a younger workforce becomes more active, companies will start working toward accommodating this new generation by branching out when it comes to attracting and retaining new talent. Older employees will be working alongside a younger demographic, and companies will be looking for new ways to meet both generations in the middle.
Check out the ten biggest office trends to look for this year.
- Business Casual Becomes the New Norm
A younger workforce coupled with a growing number of freelance employees may lead to a more “laid back” approach to office attire. Gone are the days of wearing a suit and tie; more employees will be encouraged to dress comfortably to help cater to a growing demographic that overwhelmingly disagrees with the idea of dressing to impress.
- Offices Get “Smarter” When It Comes to Technology
More wireless charging stations, outlets, and cords will take up more space in the office. Companies will soon start incorporating more apps into the day-to-day routine. Everything from room bookings to meetings to even client calls will be done via different apps. Brick-and-mortar buildings will undergo a major overhaul to include more smart technology. Smart desks and chairs could also become more popular.
- Office Layouts Include More Green Space
Green is the color of productivity — at least that’s what one Harvard study has found. Better in-office design and maintenance has been found to lead to happier, better-focused employees. This year, companies are expected to start incorporating more green spaces into the workplace. As an added bonus, more eco-friendly design layouts have been found to lead to overall higher cognitive function and lower sick rates among employees.
- VR Takes on a Bigger Role in the Training Process
Interactive apps will play a bigger role when it comes to the hiring process. In fact, HR companies around the world have already started tinkering with VR and other apps to help hire, train, and reach out to potential employees. More employee training seminars and customer-facing modules will be done via virtual reality.
- Workplace Wellness Programs Become More Popular
Standing desks, ergonomic chairs, employee wellness initiatives — these programs saw a boom in the tail end of 2016 and will maintain a healthy level of growth well into this year. More employee fitness programs will continue trending in 2017, with more companies offering generous prizes and benefits for employees who participate. Look out for more inter-office wellness competitions with added perks.
- More Employees Work Remotely
Not only are more people working remotely, they’re doing it for longer. A Gallup survey found that 43 percent of employees in the U.S. spent time working remotely. As more workers opt for jobs that give them more flexibility, offices will work to attract talent with the perceived notion that full- and part-time employees have the option to spend a considerable amount of time working offsite.
- Companies Focus More on Privacy-Conscious Software Like VPNs
Companies will likely start incorporating more privacy-conscious business practices in the workplace. Common privacy protocols like 2-factor authentication and increasingly stringent password requirements will become more commonplace. Additionally, companies will start routing employee traffic through a VPN, or virtual private network, to help protect their network. Common VPN services are easy to use and can be installed on most office routers to instantly cover every device connected to it.
- Steep Increase in Office Interconnectivity
Even with more employees working remotely, a growing trend to watch for is a greater focus on inter-office teams. Offices and organizations might start restructuring the office space to focus more on specific teams or groups of employees. Placing employees in a team setting has been found to help increase work productivity while helping employees and managers meet their goals. Setting up inter-office teams help ensure a more organized and structured way to meet an increasingly critical market demand.
- Employees Face Fewer Nontraditional Perks
Perks like free gym memberships, discounts, and student loan repayment plans may sound like enticing work benefits, but studies show they lag behind more traditional full-time perks like health insurance, 401(k) plans, and generous paid time off. A Glassdoor study revealed that while non-traditional perks might help increase the number of applicants for a particular role, it offers little sway when it comes to employees’ overall satisfaction and view of the company. Perks such as office gadgets and toys will become the normal, as companies move more towards a friendlier environment and more towards solving issues such as work burnout and stress.
- More Jobs Force Companies to Offer Stronger Benefits
Conversely, while nontraditional benefits are predicted to see a sharp decline in 2017, traditional perks like health care and paid time off are expected to become more generous. In a recent Forbes study, work flexibility was found to be the single biggest employee benefit. Therefore companies are expected to work alongside employees in building an environment and creating benefits packages that give individuals more time and flexibility to enjoy life outside of work.
An improved job market means both employers and employees have more sway when it comes to the workplace, leading to more flexibility, more engagement, and inevitably more options.