The future of the office: 7 hybrid working trends for 2022

There's a lot in store for the future of hybrid working. Check out the 7 emerging hybrid working trends to look out for in 2022.

Many organizations are feeling the pressures of uncertainty as the new year approaches. Amid an unclear future, multiple questions seem to go unanswered. Are in-person meetings returning? Will remote working remain the norm? How can we attract talent during The Great Resignation?

In the case of most of these concerns, it is simply too soon to tell. Even though hybrid working is here to stay, likely, there will still be new changes and challenges to the way we work. To remain agile, it is best to stay prepared and informed for whatever new practices may come in 2022. By understanding the emerging trends of the new year, you and your organization can already start combating oncoming uncertainties.

In this case, the best defense is a good offense. Instead of just waiting for the future to arrive, you can equip your team, build a knowledge base, and get ready to make the changes that will guide your hybrid workplace strategy in the new year. After going through the hybrid working transition ourselves, as well as monitoring the journeys of our clients first-hand, we have combined our experience and resources to reveal several key workplace trends that you can expect in 2022.

1. Fully equipped in-office hybrid meetings 

While hybrid meetings have been a boon for many, they are not without their issues. For instance, 46% of organizers have found it challenging to engage virtual and in-person audiences during hybrid meetings simultaneously. Though many companies have grown accustomed to hybrid meetings, there is still plenty of potential for optimization. In 2022 many organizations will be looking to upgrade their working strategy by integrating fully equipped in-office hybrid meetings. Not only are optimized hybrid meetings a surefire way to improve your office experience, but they have become the norm for many employees who now expect more than just a Zoom call with spotty audio. 

Through utilizing physical room improvements, engagement strategies, and the right tools, you can make your hybrid meetings the best they can be. For instance, consider the size and layout of your space: is it built for traditional meetings, or can it be modified to better accommodate digital participants? Consider implementing a hybrid meetings solution that can help you enhance and manage your scheduling more seamlessly. Such solutions might include meeting planners or technology that can collect space-related data. As the new year begins, take time to evaluate what your teams need for efficient hybrid meetings. By starting early and investing in future technology such as high-quality cameras, mics, and screens, you can eliminate some of the headaches that may often plague your employees during hybrid meetings. 

2. Privacy prioritization 

If you haven’t already, 2022 is the time to start taking your digital privacy seriously. Flexera’s 2021 State of Tech Spend Report noted that the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digital transformation of the workplace. Consequently, it has also increased the risk of online breaches. As more and more of our work takes place online, understanding and optimizing your privacy and security is essential. By paying close attention and prioritizing your privacy policy, you can protect your employees. 

People are often our greatest security vulnerability: they fall victim to targeted attacks, make mistakes, and break the rules. Organizations need to pay close attention to their privacy policy to ensure they can continue to work effectively without putting data at risk. Make sure that all the tools you use align with your privacy guidelines and goals. When considering a new tool or functionality, always compare your options. Evaluate which is more likely to protect the privacy of your company and your employees. 

3. Transparent hybrid hiring processes

Amid The Great Resignation, a positive, effective, and transparent hiring process is more important than ever. By prioritizing transparency in your hiring processes, you will be better able to attract and retain talent while maintaining an overall positive public brand image. 

In the current war for talent, a responsible and attractive hybrid working policy is vital. In many cases, if a company doesn’t offer hybrid working or is unclear about what level of hybrid working is to be expected, that can drive potential employees away. This is especially important when hiring Gen Z team members, half of whom would reportedly leave a job if they did not receive a hybrid work option. But this is not just unique to young workers:  89% of all workers expect a future employer to have a remote working policy in place before accepting a role. When hiring, make sure that possible recruits clearly understand what they can expect once they join your company. When your recruitment processes are consciously transparent, you can ensure that you retain talent while managing expectations. Be honest and upfront: there’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to hiring. 

4. The ‘Clubhouse’ office

Moving into 2022, an increasing number of organizations will be adopting a “clubhouse” style of office. A clubhouse office is defined by a plethora of amenities, authenticity, and collaboration: think fewer cubicles and more communication. With the rapid increase in virtual work, the office will instead become a hub of socialization. Closer in practice to a coffee shop or coworking space, a clubhouse office is a great way to attract employees back into the office, drawn by the promise of plenty of perks and face-to-face interaction. 

Instead of in-office socialization being seen as a distraction, it is a clear advantage in a clubhouse office. The different spaces allow for new forms of communication and collaboration—aspects that positively impact workplace engagement. By framing your office as a clubhouse, you can provide valuable opportunities for in-person communication, which most employees prefer compared to remote meetings. The new year is the optimal time to transform your office into a place people want to be, rather than have to be.

5. Energy-saving measures

As energy prices continue rising in 2022 and squeezing company profits, organizations will need to seriously consider energy-saving measures. Increasing energy costs will more heavily impact organizations working from a physical office, making a fully functioning hybrid working model all the more vital. Despite these energy concerns, it is possible to retain your office while saving costs and aligning with your sustainability efforts

With a hybrid working model, some days in the office will inevitably be more or less populated than others. By integrating smart technology into your office, you can better understand which areas and days are the most popular, thus allowing you to modify your heating and electrical expenses accordingly. Smart office sensors can be essential in this regard by providing access to detailed analytics of how exactly your desks, meeting rooms, and floors are used. This can result in lower energy costs, taking some of the stress and work away from management and employees. 

6. AI as a personal assistant

As the power and functionality of AI grow, the popularity of AI-powered virtual assistants is projected to rise in popularity come 2022. With workplace culture becoming less tied to the physical office, having an assistant with you wherever, whenever, will be more critical than ever. AI assistants can help with a range of time-sensitive work tasks such as scheduling meetings and setting up calendars. 

A virtual assistant powered by AI can provide levels of access, intuition, and unparalleled time management. Software that acts as an all-in-one AI assistant can remove mundane tasks from your daily work, such as sending invitations, tracking in-person and remote attendance, and dynamically changing your meeting location according to your needs. Additionally, they can eliminate some employees’ stress, removing the anxieties that come with rushing to find available meeting rooms that can support your capacity and AV needs. 

7. Accessibility and inclusivity

In 2022, accessibility and inclusion will be important topics to discuss and prioritize among your team, especially as organizations begin returning to the physical office. If there is a silver lining in the events of the past two years, it would be that the shift towards hybrid working has allowed a wider range of people to work in ways that suit them best. Remote and hybrid working has allowed neurodivergent people and people with disabilities to work from their homes without feeling pressured to go to a workplace that may not be designed to accommodate their needs. 

As people begin going back to the offices, organizations need to make sure that they continue to accommodate people who either don’t want to come back to the office or may require changes to accommodate their needs. In fact, 76% of workers avoid the office, due to a lack of appropriate work areas. Reach out and make sure your employees feel encouraged to express their needs and wants. Start with practical changes and see what your team requires: make sure all employees are aware of office layouts and the locations of helpful equipment. You can foster a strong relationship with your people by expressing this kind of empathetic attention to detail, meaning more in-person engagement. Not only that, but by instituting inclusive policies, you are future-proofing your workplace model while making it a more welcoming space for diverse talent. 

Making effective changes

The future will always hold possibilities, as well as high levels of uncertainty. It’s important to have a strong baseline of market knowledge and insights into employee behavior to understand what changes are necessary for your office. A solid first step is to recognize what trends to expect and build strategies to anticipate them. However, it is just as important to possess an effective understanding of your own organization, which may include access to unique data about your internal workplace habits. With the help of office management tools, you can better understand how your hybrid working strategy is performing today and how you can improve it in the future. 

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