While 2021 was the year of recovery, 2022 will be the year of economic growth and new work trends. Companies forced into remote-work arrangements for the past two years are faced with a complicated decision. Should bosses let workers stay at home, bring everyone back to the office or find a happy medium? A recent report by Loom found that 90% of employees, including workers and managers, are happier with their newfound freedom of working from home, suggesting that trend is here to stay, but it’s not.
Evidence is mixed. Many employees say they are more productive working from home than they were in the office. However, managers beg to differ as there are many benefits to working from the office including in-person collaboration. Zanzibar Vermiglio is the founder of Zanzibar Enterprises and currently serves as an executive business coach for more than 30 Phoenix-based companies. Over the last 6 months, Vermiglio has compiled the following work trends company leaders and employees should prepare for in 2022.
Distributed workforce will slowly go away over the next few months to a year: A distributed workforce includes multiple employees working in different locations as opposed to under a single roof. Distributed workforces first became popular in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s due to the advent of the internet. Many companies saw an opportunity to save money on office space because everyone could simply take their computers home and work from there. By 2006 most companies were coming back to work in the office because there was an astounding 80% decrease in work productivity and they realized how much money they were saving by simply paying for some office space. That being said, we are in a different culture than before, and it has become more acceptable to work from home as well as having tools to help promote productivity working off-site. So, it won’t be quite like it was the last time. But, even with today’s innovators of the workforce (Google, Intel), collaborative environments are proving very useful for full engagement from employees. More and more you will see people back in the workplace. When I talk with commercial real estate brokers that I know, everyone was predicting a crash due to the pandemic, but this hasn’t been the case at all; the industry barely bumped and is back to full steam ahead.
The victors will be those who can empower the younger generations: More and more it is important to have managers and leaders in key places that demonstrate the ability to EMPOWER a group of human resources rather than just DEMAND from them. The younger generation shuns authority for authority’s sake more than any generation before them. This can be a negative but isn’t always. We need to have leaders in place who are not speaking to the workforce from their position so much as they are speaking from a legitimate concern. The younger generations respond to truth-tellers rather than drill sergeants. We have seen this trend more and more in the last 30 years and even elite business schools like Harvard have jumped onto the bandwagon. The younger generations don’t just get turned off, they see it as an injustice when someone speaks from authority and nothing else.
Entitlement will remain high, difference-makers will be few and far between: I sit in MasterMind after MasterMind where people say to each other, “You’ve just got to find the right people. Find the right people and it all gets better.” What they are talking about is the kind of person who can be given a responsibility and then re-create the intention of that responsibility with little or no direction and make it sing the same way the owner would have if they were to do it themselves (or better). These people have always been hard to find. Entitlement makes it harder. Every generation has its share of entitlement in the collective consciousness, but it is definitely higher for those in the 24 to 35 age range right now. Entitlement is good for getting what you want in life but not so good for empowering collective purpose. Add to this that it’s never been easier to start one’s own business and we have now lost more of those people from the resume pool. The kind of employee everyone is looking for was once a 1 out of 20 hire but is now almost 1 out of 70. It behooves each employer to structure their business to rely on talent for mission execution less and less. Of course, if you ARE the difference-maker, never has it been easier to write your own ticket.
The workforce has been flooded, but things will even out over the next few months: This is temporary, so everyone needs to relax. Yes, right now it is more difficult to be hired somewhere because everyone has come out of COVID and is looking for work. At the same time, employers got used to running things with skeleton crews which was helping overall profitability and there is a little reticence to populate the workforce with as robust a lineup as what was once there. These combining forces are making it difficult for many jobseekers. Do not despair. This will even out over the next few months and return to normal.
Employee enrichment and corporate training will come back: Many of the Fortune 50 to Fortune 500 companies put holds on spending on training for their workforces. Why spend money and training if they’re not around or if the future of our industry is in question anyway? But this recent trend will be coming back in force in 2022.