The changing shape of the modern workplace
The world of work is changing dramatically.
With technology taking over offices, new job opportunities, and an increased interest in work life balance, the modern workplace is almost unrecognisable.
There are some key trends that business leaders and employees alike need to pay attention to. Understanding these trends will allow organisations across the board to better prepare and adapt to the changes that are impacting the way we work.
1. Workplace flexibility
Workplace flexibility is becoming an expectation among employees. From flexible scheduling and working hours, location or even office set-up. According to a study by PWC, employees of all generations are prioritising flexibility in their jobs. In fact, for many employees, flexibility in a job is more important than compensation and promotion.
2. The six hour work day
Six-hour work days are a concept that have been popular in Sweden for some time. The popular policy gained attention in the past few years as employers reported increased productivity, lower turnover, reduced sick leave and a general feeling of enhanced well-being. This experiment in Sweden proved expensive, but with healthier and happier employees it could work out far more cost effective in the long run. It also changes the focus from hours worked to productivity. The modern workplace is not about how many hours you put down but your results at the end of the day.
3. Thinking on your feet
One major keyword of the modern workplace is variety. Perhaps one of the slightly more unusual aspects of offices like Boeing, Intel and Apple is the array of different desks. Standing desks, adjustable sit-stand workstations and even desks fixed to fitness machines allow employees to avoid sitting in one position for eight hours a day. In recent years, sitting has been branded as ‘the new smoking’ and with good reason. A sedentary lifestyle increases the chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as causing muscle atrophy.
4. Workplace wellness
One major trend is the increased interest and investment in workplace wellness. Employers understand the importance of a healthy and happy workforce for morale and productivity. Workplaces of all sizes are beginning to implement wellness programmes. These focus on exercise and healthy eating as well as mindfulness and stress relief. It doesn’t always have to be about physical wellness, online retailer Zappos have launched Wellness Adventures, where their wellness coordinator will take a small group of employees from different departments offsite to do something fun away from their desks, like an hour-long golf lesson or trampolining.
5. Coworking goes corporate
Coworking has been a buzzword in the start-up and freelancing communities for a while now, but now corporate companies have learned of the benefits or a collaborative environment. In the US companies like KPMG and GE are moving their employees to coworking spaces, in the UK journalists from The Guardian are now crafting content while coworking, and here in Ireland, Pulp and Briefed are soaring in Glandore’s shared spaces. Employees are thriving from the collaborative environment and it gives them a new space to be creative, so far removed from the corporate climate.
6. Company culture
Company culture is more important than ever. It’s not that company culture was ever unimportant, but it’s quickly proving to be a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have.” Company culture and engagement is now said to be the number one challenge among HR directors and business leaders. It’s clear that in order to attract, retain and engage the modern workforce, we need to focus on company culture. Company culture is not about free beers or on-site gyms, it’s about creating an environment, and values that reflect your organisation and attract the right people.
7. Sleeping on the job
Some may shudder at the thought of falling asleep on the job but more and more companies are waking up to the idea of naptime. A lack of sleep can cause high levels of stress, anxiety and depression and companies that invest in the wellness of their employees tend to report improved productivity and positivity in the workplace. Google famously has nap pods at its California headquarters and other familiar names like Ben & Jerry’s and Uber have rooms put aside. PwC has also adopted the practice at its highly modern Swiss offices.
8. Freelance gigs over fulltime jobs
Piecing your income together from different projects rather than having a secure job is becoming more of a norm. A recent survey conducted by freelance site, Upwork, showed that 35% of the American workforce are freelancing. This number is set to increase to 50% by 2020. This trend is also apparent in Ireland and the UK. Research from Close Brothers Commercial Finance last year showed that more than half of businesses in Ireland use freelancers. Freelancers with a particular set of skills would be more beneficial and cost-effective for companies who require such skills for stand-alone projects, rather than hiring someone full-time.
9. Office layout that works for everyone
Companies are putting far more thought and effort into office ergonomics. This doesn’t mean huge offices with slides and bikes, instead they are creating multi-facet office spaces that give employees options. Some employees work better in cubicles and others work better in a lounge or cafeteria. Employees want flexible furniture, a distraction-free environment and lounge areas. Companies will have to pay close attention to their office environments and invest in improving them so employees can be more productive and happier at work.
10. Parental leave
More companies are expanding their maternity benefits to compete for top talent and to better retain current employees. Netflix led the way last year with its unlimited maternity leave policy, and Adobe and Microsoft followed suit with their own expanded programs. Paternity leave is said to be a big workplace trend, introduced last September, paternity leave marked a step change in how fathers are treated. Facebook have their own champion for paternity leave, Mark Zuckerberg, took two months leave when his daughter was born in 2015.
Regardless of where you are in this spectrum the future of work is something that will affect us all.
This piece on the changing shape of the modern workplace was written by Glandore Director, Clare Kelly. Having worked with Glandore, the Kelly family business, for almost ten years Clare has seen a number of companies progress and grow from tech superstars like Twitter and Facebook to luxury lifestyle brands like Bvlgari and Beats. At the moment approximately 150 companies call Glandore home, so there is a wonderful mix of workplace trends, company cultures and leadership styles. Clare is an expert on all things workplace related.