What does the future hold for work and business trends in 2022? Looking back at last year, trends included the creation of safer work environments, flexible schedules, and added cybersecurity.
Today, the workplace continues to evolve. The unprecedented changes that we’ve seen over the past two years endure. Remote work, Zoom meetings, sick leave, and resignations still dominate the headlines and the work lives of many Canadians.
Our forecast for the work and business trends in 2022
For the very first time, we’re publishing our forecast of the top anticipated workplace and business trends for the upcoming year. We based these trends on what happened last year and on research done by gathering the collective experience of dozens of reliable entrepreneurial and business sources.
Below is our list of the biggest 10 work and business trends for 2022.
Trend 1: COVID-19 continues to trend
Unfortunately but perhaps not surprisingly, COVID-19 will continue to play a significant role in the workplace.
Owners and managers will need to continue to prioritise office safety and navigate vaccine mandates, testing, and health recommendations.
On the financial front, the pandemic will continue to impact global economic growth. For example, the 2022 GDP growth forecast for the U.S. has been downgraded and the World Bank expects only moderate growth in Europe and Central Asia.
Following this trend, Canada’s economic growth will slow as well in 2022 at a pace that’s below the global average.
Trend 2: Employee retention reigns
Where employee satisfaction is concerned, retention continues to be a crucial company focus in 2022.
Our research points to an acceleration of people quitting their jobs in 2022, an ongoing trend that doesn’t bode well for employers.
This is good news for workers, whoever, because job opportunities and salaries are projected to grow in 2022. Employers are doing whatever they can in an effort to keep their staff. Better benefit packages, training opportunities, financial incentives, and other perks are also expected to improve (more on this in a later trend).
Employee attraction and retention will be inextricably linked to whether or not an employer offers hybrid and remote work options, a topic we’ll discuss next.
Trend 3: Remote and hybrid work will become permanent fixtures
Remote work isn’t going away in 2022. In fact, we can safely predict virtual work is no longer a trend but a permanent change in the way we work.
Hybrid work was projected to ramp up in 2021, but new COVID-19 variants put that trend on hold. Now in 2022, conditions seem to favour hybrid models—research agrees.
Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have announced they’ll be embracing hybrid work. Meanwhile, Amazon, Twitter, Dropbox have said they’ll be going fully remote. Others still, like Kickstarter, are considering a 4-day workweek, but it’s not clear whether this move will come to pass in 2022.
A multi-layered workforce
While a hybrid work model has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks.
The issue of fairness between workers is one main concern. New research is pointing to a strong bias towards in-person employees compared to their remote counterparts. The former are perceived as better workers and tend to get the edge when managers offer raises and promotions.
If a hybrid work model is going to work in 2022 and into the future, business leaders will need to be aware of this bias and take steps to mitigate it.
Trend 4: Diverse and flexible work arrangements will expand
Along with remote work, flexible work arrangements will also take priority in 2022.
Like it or not, diverse work arrangements are here to stay. Retention of employees will be inextricably linked to flexibility in when and where they can do their jobs. Employers who don’t adapt with this trend will see their employees move on to other organisations.
Individuality within the flexible workforce
Within a hybrid work environment, some people will want to work at the office, others will prefer to work from home, and still others will want a mix of both—and the best companies will cater to all of these needs.
Research shows that location flexibility, schedule control, and work-life balance will continue to be desired characteristics of a hybrid model by employees.
Plus, beyond general workplace flexibility there will be a push to adjust to individual needs in 2022. Employers should expect to navigate a flex model where various employee needs and goals are accommodated, where reasonable, and that these needs may change throughout an employee’s time at a company.
More diverse types of work
Then there’s the switch to new types of work. In 2022, expect traditional full-time salaried and hourly employees to continue to be replaced by contract work, self-employment, and positions within the gig economy.
Trend 5: AI, automation, and technology will continue to propel work forward
We could include the automation and technology on every one of our annual trend lists! With virtual offices, hybrid workers, and flexible schedules expect continued growth on both fronts in 2022.
Companies will employ more third-party software to make work collaborative, keep employees connected, and automate tasks so jobs become faster, easier, and more enjoyable. Artificial intelligence will continue to creep into the fold as well for the same reasons.
Digital advancements for the digital office
Some of the main ways we see automation and digital technology advance in 2022 include:
- AI and machines will continue to be used when employers can’t find enough workers,
- Robots will be used more widely in manufacturing, call centres, and janitorial work,
- Hyper-automation technologies, or the use of several automation services together, will grow in popularity (because automation on its own wasn’t enough!),
- Cloud-computing will become the norm as those companies who were slow to adopt them will finally do so,
- App-based tools will help hybrid staff manage their work and keep in touch.
Technology will support career growth
A new study from Oracle found that, beyond helping with facilitating their existing roles, employees will look to technology to help them with their career growth. For example:
- Technology-based tools like AI career advisors will come into vogue,
- AI-tools will help with career development and with job hunting,
- Within organisations, AI will help direct employees to job opportunities that suit them.
Trend 6: The talent pool will shift
Workers will continue to resign from their corporate jobs in 2022 leaving the people who remain to pick up the slack.
Increased wages will do little to address employee overwork. Companies will have no choice but to find good replacements for their lost team members less they risk losing more people to burnout. Remote work will help in the search as geography will no longer limit the prospective pool of applicants.
On top of finding replacements, the shifting talent pool also bodes well for teams to fill roles internally. Enter: the agile work team.
Flatter, more agile organisations will develop
If the past two years have taught us anything it’s that the ability to quickly adapt to change is a superpower. Organisations that could quickly adapt in times of dramatic socio-economic upheaval were more resilient and more likely to survive.
Leaders have recognized the need for adaptability. They’ve realised that flatter organisations are more agile, a realisation that has led towards the breakdown of the traditional hierarchical organisational structure, a trend we expect will continue in 2022.
Trend 7: Transparency
The global pandemic has created an air of distrust of government, health officials, and researchers.
Organisations have had to counteract this sentiment by ensuring they remain trustworthy in the eyes of their employees. We see this need continuing into 2022.
The best workplaces of the future will be ones that prioritise employee engagement, collaborative approaches to decision-making, and transparency when it comes to employee salaries, and the financial health and future of the company.
Trend 8: Employee wellbeing will be a priority
Employee health and safety will continue to be a top concern for companies this year.
On the flip side, workers will be taking their health into their own hands as well. Employees claim they will no longer accept poor treatment, harassment, or bullying at work. Expect to see more of the same as people prioritise finding psychologically-safe work environments in 2022.
On top of safe work spaces, employees will take advantage of their extended health benefits to take better care for themselves in 2022. Which brings us to our next subtopic: employee benefits.
Employee Benefits Will Evolve
Through better transparency and more dialogue with employees, companies have come to discover that employee health benefits need to evolve in the face of the changing work landscape.
Research has found that people would give up on more vacation, bonuses, and flexible hours—yes, you read that right—in exchange for better extended health benefits.
Expect to see a shift to employee benefits in 2022 to include the following:
- New home office equipment including standing desks for better ergonomics,
- More paid time off leave,
- Virtual health options,
- Benefits that support parents or caregivers, including paid family leave, bereavement leave, and childcare support.
The use of wellness metrics will trend higher
Many companies expanded the support they offered employees in the wake of the pandemic. They then used metrics to track what was and wasn’t working. The goal was to further improve employee health, increase job satisfaction and retention, and ultimately see higher levels of performance.
In 2022, expect to see more executives use wellness metrics and KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, to better understand the mental, physical, and financial health of their employees.
Mental health support will grow
In 2021, research found that, globally, 94% of employees were feeling stressed.
Because of these concerning findings, employers will continue to prioritise employee mental health in 2022 in an attempt to address worker burnout, anxiety, and stress.
Extended health benefits will carry part of the responsibility here by incorporating better mental health support in the form of psychological services, counselling, prescription drugs plans, and mental health days.
Compassion will be an essential soft skill
Compassion wasn’t always a word we associated with work; quite the contrary.
The pandemic changed that, however, as the line between our business and personal lives blurred. We got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the lives of our colleagues which, for some, helped to deepen work relationships. Compassion and connection organically grew between co-workers.
Where employers are concerned, being empathetic, compassionate, and understanding about the issues affecting employees’ lives will continue to be a priority in 2022, not simply because it’s the right thing to do but also because it improves job satisfaction, performance, and retention.
Trend 9: Purpose, authenticity, and sustainability will be corporate drivers
Companies driven by an obvious purpose are more attractive to employees. This has never been more true. In 2022, the companies who walk the talk of their purpose, mission and vision—and not simply include them as blurbs on their website—will keep more employees and thrive as a result.
Authenticity continues to be an important work value
Authenticity as a business trend will grow in 2022.
Our craving for connection that grew out of the pandemic seeped into our corporate values. It changed which companies we wanted to work for and buy from.
Businesses that prioritise authenticity, and which demonstrate honesty and humility, will reap the benefits. Authenticity fosters connections and connections build trust and loyalty. Employers need trust and loyalty when looking to retain employees and customers.
Sustainability will be a must for companies in 2022
With every passing year, job-seekers and employees care more and more about how companies address global issues like climate change and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Like wellness metrics, expect companies to adopt Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics in 2022 as well. Furthermore, executives will be paid based on how well they reach ESG targets. Apple is one example of a multinational company that’s leading the charge here.
Trend 10: The need for cooperation and integration has never been greater
The worlds of work and business have never been more integrated.
Current global economic challenges, like supply chain issues, data security, and data sharing, will force us to continue to develop and grow close partnerships with other organisations. With cooperation or, as some like to call it, co-opetition, businesses won’t have a hope of flourishing.
Final Thoughts on Work and Business Trends for 2022
Of the 10 trends we shared here, Backbone is especially passionate about 3 and 10: remote work and cooperation.
At Backbone, we strive to create a working environment where our members can adjust to the ever-changing work landscape while building strong relationships with other business owners and entrepreneurs.
If you’d like to run your business or do your work in a space that’s connected, transparent (literally, some of our boardrooms have glass walls), and supportive, come for a visit. We promise to keep you in trend this year.
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Our community of go-getter entrepreneurs could use another one like you! Shoot us a message if you have any questions or want to book a showing.
Backbone Coworking & Executive Offices
104-32615 S Fraser Way
Abbotsford, BC, V2T 1X8