Workplace Trends In 2022 That Will Shape The Future Of Work

With most of us trying to leave 2021 behind us, we’ve switched our attention to the coming year. Questions ranged from ‘how will we quickly enable remote working?’ to ‘How will we get back to work?’ The world of employment has been fundamentally reshaped by enormous forces.

Business leaders are looking for innovative and relevant ways to engage and retain their employees while also fostering a healthy organizational culture. HR managers and executives must discover strategies to preserve company values and brand identities while increasing productivity—all the while keeping their employees engaged, fulfilled, and driven. Many are rethinking how they work, why they work and what they want out of work, hence a new workplace paradigm is taking shape. If 2020 and 2021 were years of unplanned reinvention, 2022 is where it gets intentional and equally disruptive, challenging the old “holy cows”.

Critical skills development

There has never been a period in history when talent skill sets were more susceptible to change. Professional skills used to last 10 to 15 years, but now they only endure 5 years, with highly technical skills lasting only about two and a half. Obsolescence and constant reskilling being a way of life.

Furthermore, people’s talents are becoming increasingly more important in deciding how they are rewarded than the traditional method of valuing formal qualification. A self-taught data analyst, relevant to the needs of the organization, may earn more than a History or Law graduate, without even a university degree. As a result, organizations have evolved specialized upskilling opportunities with the promise of a new job in Information Technology or other fields, upon completion.

As people’s professional capabilities/experiences grow, their academic background becomes less relevant. Consequently, equipping its talent with business appropriate competencies as much as reorienting its talent acquisition and growth policies has become critical to any organization. Building critical skills and competencies among their employees, instead of waiting for market to provide them with ready talent and rewarding them, will be the organization’s number one priority in 2022.

Organizational design and change management

According to a Gartner trend study of 500 supervisors, 48% saw change management as one of the most critical human resources issues. Many organizations aren’t designed to handle rapid change caused due to the repercussions of this humanitarian crisis.

While managers are busy constantly speaking about the need for change, many businesses’ designs favor controllability, stability, or conformity/respect to authority. While these may have been the needs of the past to ensure predictability and ease of operations, are they now hurdles in orchestrating Change? The key to successful change management is building resilience among employees and help navigate successfully through ambiguity. This will be a crucial aspect in the upcoming year which will help organizations manage change smoothly while keeping the well-being and health, physical and emotional perspective, of employees also in place.

Organizational change is mainly viewed as a process with a beginning, a midpoint, and an end also seen traditionally as the Freeze, Unfreeze and refreeze process in the journey of goal achievement. But this approach is being replaced by transformation—that is, continuous, responding to emerging situations, envisaged or desired, which will be the script seen in 2022. Organizations would want to create continuous transformation tailored to the changing needs, instead of setting a perfect ready-made premeditated plan. Their aim would be to involve the workplace community to find its way to the destination together, in place of boardroom centered, confidentially conceived strategies. Shift therefore is in co-creation and collective implementation.

Current and future leadership

The year 2021 has opened a window of opportunity to make significant changes in how we create leaders, seamlessly transit to the next generation of leaders and assess our leadership development performance.

To be a successful leader in 2022, you must be able to analyze, reinvent, and respond — beginning with studying lessons learnt from the leadership model of the pandemic period that may be applied in the future. The potential to flourish in our ever-changing, digital, virtually linked world are of consequence for organizations concerned with growing proper leadership teams.
Intentional learning is one of the most important leadership qualities to work on right now. Intentional learning, often known as ‘reskilling’ or ‘upskilling,’ is investing in the skills and leadership training that will shape your organization’s future.

After adopting remote and hybrid working, it’s become more difficult to accurately assess an employee’s mindset . Leaders must be more empathic and make a conscious effort to inquire about and relate to their team’s well-being. Leaders must abandon their “fixed mindset” and focus more on growth that is compatible with the current reality. As a result, the path to a successful 2022 and beyond can only be travelled smoothly if leaders can effectively balance human sensitivity with technological resources.

Working beyond physical boundaries

The shift to a hybrid workplace, which began before COVID-19, accelerated during the start of the worldwide pandemic, and shows no indications of slowing down. According to a Microsoft survey, 73 % want flexible remote work choices preserved, but 67 % want more in-person interaction with their coworkers during the pandemic.

The pandemic has transformed how we engage with work, making hybrid models and working from home a viable option for many. The workplaces of 2022 may be smaller, since this hybrid workforce will be characterized by flexible schedules and shared areas. While on one hand hybrid working facilitates employees to reconcile personal and professional needs, especially for lady employees, organisations have been able to reduce their administrative expenses in the process. The traditional wisdom that deals can be closed only in personal meetings or travel is an essential ingredient of sales function and has been shattered during the lockdown and thereafter. This illustrates that, without a doubt, the hybrid model will remain in the new normal, and that, at the leadership level, it poses a significant challenge, particularly in terms of effectively managing and integrating teams, irrespective of whether members are physically present or connected from anywhere. Innovative mechanisms will need to be conceived for allocation, supervision, assessment of work, as much as providing Learning and Development opportunities to team members working remotely. 2022 will give employees the choice to select which model they would like to choose rather than being forced to align with the organization’s chosen model.

Organizations are clearly undergoing a change in their relationship with the idea of a centralized workplace, and it will be necessary for them to adapt to this new way of working with its attendant challenges of staying connected with its workforce.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) is more than a catchphrase, when brought together, can help organizations realize the true benefits. These four concepts work together to improve a company’s workplace dynamics, workflow, productivity, and community. It is a long-term, vital element of the organization. This is something that firms and HR departments are increasingly recognizing, and it is one of the HR trends that was already seen this year and would gain momentum in the future.

Organizations will have to adapt to constant change rather than just changing their mission statement to build a strong culture around DEIB. HR leaders will have to make this a priority to find solutions that support robust DEI programs. This can range from talent screening, hiring to employee retention all backed by data and technology.

Employees and customers now expect more from organizations and hence creating a culture of inclusion will be inevitable for organizations to survive in the longer run. In essence, it is no more a topic for Conference deliberations or evolved egalitarian offering, but sheer compulsion for sustainability

The emergence of the pandemic showed how critical it was to be ready to adjust to the unexpected. Organizations must have strong and competent people who feel appreciated and supported in order to embrace resilience, and who are equipped with the tools and solutions they need to work efficiently and confidently. Many Organizations are utilizing creative ideas and solutions to revolutionize their workplaces, workforces, and the nature of work itself, as the future of work is rapidly approaching.

As we approach the new year, the pandemic still has a hold on the way the workplace functions. However, the biggest difference between the future of work and the last two years is that society has found a way to manage this shift and even use it to our advantage. The trends are ominous, and the choice is not whether we can shelter from being impacted, but how fast and how collectively we learn to change, recast our mental models to ever changing workplace realities. We need to fondly remember and be grateful to Darwin who once said that “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who can survive, but the one who can Adopt to Change”

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