Across all sectors, businesses are experiencing a period of rapid transformation.

In part 1 of our work trends analysis, we explored opportunities for employers including digital transformation, utilising technology to better listen to and action employee feedback, the changing role of project managers, the vital nature of an agile approach, and the effects of the aforementioned on employee retention. However, it doesn’t stop there.

This period of rapid transformation will provide not only changes for employers but also an incredible number of exciting opportunities for employees. In this article, we explore those opportunities, from increased flexibility due to hybrid work environments, greater support for the mental health and well-being of homeworkers, to a shift in the way employee perks are shared, and more. We truly expect 2022 to bring about lasting positive changes to the employee-employer relationship and the biggest improvements to work-life balance ever seen.

Hybrid Work: From Novelty to Normality

With offices across the world opening their doors again, the requirement to remain remote is phasing out, and workers are returning to offices. Although many of us have already braved our old commute and took our places (with a little more space than previously) at our desks. The questions are will this become full-time? Is it necessary for everyone? And will it continue into 2022?

A recent survey of 500 software professionals revealed a positive reception to hybrid work that listed several benefits:  

  • 90% claimed they were happy with remote work, at least partially 
  • Just over 50% encountered fewer distractions at home 
  • Almost 50% stated it improved their working relationships

What’s more, this applied to managers and employees, who spent similar percentages of weeks working from home (66.4% and 64.4%, respectively.) So, this trend should not only continue but evolve in 2022. As hybrid work shifts from novelty to normality, tweaking processes to keep it effective will be essential. We expect this need for a technological shift to accelerate digital transformation across many industries. 

Greater Support for Homeworkers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing

A damning number of reports have shown that as many as 41.6% of remote workers have experienced mental health decline. Work-related stress is anticipated to be the number one diagnosis in upcoming years, so leaders must work harder to provide vital support to their workforce. It will be essential to promote mental health care and remind workers of healthy work-from-home strategies. Regularly having dialogue to assess employees’ wellbeing should be integrated into whatever hybrid model your organisation deploys.

It is also essential that all employees have a consistent working experience. Apps like SharePoint allow users to access documents with ease, regardless of location. In doing so, workers feel linked to the team, even while working remotely. Video conferencing technology is also highly recommended and we expect usage to rise across all industries. Microsoft is upgrading Teams meeting features every month to better simulate the face-to-face environment, allowing remote staff to feel a sense of normality and connection to peers.

Microsoft Viva: Empowering Leaders to Support Hybrid Workers

This year, Microsoft launched Viva, a solution with four modules designed to improve employee engagement, effectiveness, and wellbeing. Currently, the free ‘Insights’ module gives individual users personalised and actionable insights to support them. They are only visible to the individual and are personalised for every user. They help schedule time for focusing, learning, and regular breaks so users can manage their working day more effectively.

For example, the ‘How are you feeling?’ feedback button can be used to record workers’ daily mental wellness. Managers can view the average wellness rating of the team and make changes accordingly e.g., organise a mental wellness seminar. This means workers can feel heard and taken care of while having their anonymity respected.

Separation of Office Perks and the Physical Office

Gone are the days of pool tables or Pizza Fridays. In 2022, benefits will no longer intrinsically link to the physical workplace. Instead, employees will look for more valuable benefits which will support them in and out of work. One study asked 1,500 UK employees which perks they would like to receive moving forwards. The top requests were for employee discounts and greater work recognition or holiday allowances. Clearly, pool tables are not a priority. Therefore, companies aiming for happier employees in 2022 must shift their mindset surrounding benefits. 

The ‘Great Resignation’ – Job Switching en masse

In times of crisis, most people will evaluate if they’re happy with things as they are or if they need a change. In 2020, this evaluation was suddenly thrust upon many. The result? The aptly described ‘Great Resignation.’ A Microsoft study of 30,000 workers worldwide found that 41% were considering changing professions by 2022 – either by choice or necessity. Therefore, companies must prioritise employee engagement and satisfaction or risk losing human capital and their talent. To learn more about how businesses will take greater strides to retain talent, check out part 1 of this analysis.

Stay Ahead in 2022 with ThinkShare

The last two years of disruption have firmly taught us that it pays to work together. Being united doesn’t just feel good – it generates results. All employers can expect to see a rise in collaborative working practices in 2022. Therefore, your business must prepare to accommodate this trend, so you don’t lose your most valuable asset; your employees.

Consider the following: has your business undergone the digital transformation required to upgrade for the demands of remote work? Are your staff equipped with the correct hardware and software for seamless collaboration and communication online? Have they been adequately trained to not just use this software but thrive with it? For all of these questions, ThinkShare can help. We assess a team’s existing circumstances and needs and offer solutions to the obstacles limiting your business.

We extend our best wishes to all companies adjusting to this challenging yet exciting road ahead in 2022. For more information on how we can support you, please book a call with one of our consultants.