Despite the pandemic initially causing mass uncertainty, it has since brought about the biggest reform to the way we work in a century. Work-life balance has improved substantially, and the objection to remote work due to “lowered productivity” has been widely disproven.

As hybrid work evolves from a luxury to the norm, what other changes can we expect as we move into the new year?

We wanted to investigate the above in a two-part series exploring the opportunities these emerging work trends bring to you as an employer and the benefits your employees can experience as you adapt to these new ways of working.

In this first piece, we take an employer-centred view of the latest trends. Utilising the latest research from trusted publications we will explore the increase in digital transformation, how you can learn from employees’ experience and feedback, utilising project management software, the vital nature of the Agile approach, and what it means to attract and retain talent.

The Rise of Digital Transformation

The pandemic reframed the idea that digital transformation is a futuristic concept. Offices are not, and will not be, the sole site for productivity. In fact, experts state that digital transformation has been advanced by over 7 years due to recent circumstances. Apps like Microsoft Teams and Office 365 demonstrated that meetings from home are not only viable but effective. Other apps like SharePoint have facilitated cloud-based sharing that further increases productivity when remote working thus creating a digital workspace that facilitates seamless collaboration.

In 2022, we recommend that companies establish a hybrid model not just for the short term, but a model that facilitates successful hybrid working for years to come. Key inputs into this design should include the company’s plans for future expansion and direction, business strategy, and workforce plan. As hybrid work is here to stay, digital transformation will be essential to improving business activities, processes, and competencies.

Leaders Will be Expected to Listen to Employee Feedback More Than Ever

The pandemic gave voices to employees that have gone unheard for too long. A recent global study found that 86% of employees felt that workers had not been listened to equally or fairly. For those looking to retain talent and utilise innovative ideas, it’s vital to join the the 14% minority and begin truly listening to our people.

For those looking to pave the way in retention and employee engagement in 2022 the solution could be straightforward. The literature suggests that if leaders pay greater attention to staff, consider their ideas, and translate their insight into action, this effort can pay great dividends to both employee and company outputs.

Whilst that may not sound fairly easy, and historically it may not have been, companies can now leverage technology and incorporate multiple feedback channels. For example, managers can utilise Microsoft Viva to gain a clearer understanding of employees’ overall mood from the time of their last one-to-one meeting and schedule a check-in with just a click.

More Organisations using Project Management Tools

In 2022, project managers will be expected to take on more of a leadership role. In fact, more organisations are hiring under the title ‘project leader’ as opposed to ‘project manager.’ This means project managers will get the opportunity to lead cross-functional teams and have a far stronger influence on the future direction of the business.

Previously the ever-changing work environment meant this could be difficult, but the availability and functionality of task management tools in our digital workspaces will help lighten the load of project managers and leaders. In 2021, Microsoft released a productivity tool for hybrid workers called Loop which has lightweight project management features. As hybrid work becomes more common and awareness of Loop grows, we anticipate it will become a staple of many digital workplaces.

What’s more, the research is suggesting a shift from the traditional pre-set approaches in favour of a hybrid methodology. This will allow teams to pre-plan projects while dividing development into short-term tasks. Meaning you can be more considerate of hybrid workers’ variable schedules, making you – as a business – more appealing to the growing talent pool.

More Agile Organisations: Skills, not Roles

The trusted research and advisory resource, Gartner, commented: “To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles – which group unrelated skills – than on the skills needed to drive the organisation’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel this advantage.” This dictates that skills will be more critical as they address and resolve core business obstacles. Unlike roles that, typically, describe the way individual members of a business related to a specific structure of hierarchy. Therefore, we expect to see a move towards “flat” organisational structures that focus on skills first. Businesses anticipate that this will be the key to driving innovation and problem-solving in this digital enterprise.

For workers, this focus on skills development rather than role fulfilment, will allow them to capitalise on new career opportunities with greater ease in future.

Attracting and Retaining Talent – An Ongoing Discussion for 2022

For now, it is not clear that there is a one-stop solution to attracting and retaining new quality team members for businesses. While a conclusive answer remains undiscovered, the discussion continues, so we wanted to explore the key talking points for the effects that hybrid work may have on recruitment and staff turnover in 2022 and for years to come.

Below are their key topics of debate that we expect to shape this discussion in 2022:

  • If a job can be done at home, is it better for the work culture? The cultural impact of collaboration, camaraderie, mentoring, and work-life balance is put into question under the remote model.
  • Will the productivity of remote work exceed that of office work? Some state that people work longer hours at home now due to commute times being removed. Others argue that people are less productive as they are distracted at home by non-work items and are demotivated by lowered supervision. The question of managers’ suitability to handle teams remotely better rather than in-person is also debated.
  • Job Equity: Is it fair to people whose roles cannot be done remotely and require a physical workplace? This topic covers points like safety, expenses, team culture and fairness. The rapidly evolving work environment may see certain work models generating greater benefits than others. As workplaces strive to be more inclusive and equal, this debate may become more prevalent. Emphasising the need for organisations to deliver a consistent experience for both in-office staff and homeworkers.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with ThinkShare

The world has irreversibly changed, and we are excited to see what these changes mean for both our own business and our clients. There is no avoiding the momentous workplace evolution, so we recommend embracing the opportunity it presents.

For businesses to succeed in 2022, they must evaluate their readiness for this upcoming year. For example, have the staff been empowered to take time for personal development and wellness, even when out of the office? Has enough been done to retain talent by ensuring workers are engaged and satisfied? If you’re unsure about these queries or how the Microsoft suite could empower your strategy, then contact us. ThinkShare can help by assessing your team’s needs and providing invaluable tech training and support.

If you want to learn more about work trends in 2022 check out part 2 of this analysis or book a call with one of our consultants for more information on how we can empower your company’s success in 2022.   

“In 2022, we anticipate a permanent shift in management practices due to the rapid changes in work culture arising from the global pandemic.  Companies must work to adapt to the opportunities of the new hybrid work model rather than sticking to the rigidity of traditional models, and more importantly, evolve to better support their employee needs, wherever they are working.

Companies that do not adapt to new working practices will find it difficult to retain and attract talent in the employment market that currently favours employees.”

Andy Hodges, ThinkShare CEO and Principle Consultant