12 Office Trends for 2018

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At the turning point of the year, Business Optimizer looks at some of the office trends we can expect in 2018 and for which all office heroes should prepare.

1. Increasing contractual work

The gig economy is a well-established trend and there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. What we may see, however, is an increasing levels of organization by gig economy workers around the introduction of workers’ rights and better working practices.

2. Increasing automation

We’ve all heard the warning stories: 60% of students are training for jobs that could be made obsolete by technology. The Economist has said that no government is prepared for this next wave of disruption caused by the continuing digital revolution has already displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th century middle-class life.

3. Rise of the bots

One important way that this new wave of automation is already being felt is in the increasing use of AI-powered chatbots. Spiceworks reports that we are already seeing nearly 20% of companies implement chatbots in the workplace. While companies might be embracing the technology as a way to reduce costs, it is going to lead to the disappearance of many customer service jobs and change the way we interact with brands.

4. A new set of skills

As automation disrupts more jobs and business models, we can expect our current skills to become less relevant. Both as organizations and as individuals, we need to equip ourselves a new set of skills and be prepared to adapt.

5. New ways of learning

LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and other online self-learning tools are transforming the way we access professional learning and qualifications. With the increasing cost of college tuition and the reducing lifetimes of skill relevancy, these self-directed learning tools are likely to become more ubiquitous – forcing companies to reassess the way they accept these non-traditional credentials.

6. Digital Nomads go upmarket

WeWork might be capturing all the headlines and investment, but it isn’t the only global network of workspaces developing around the world. Once the preserve of young millennials, these hubs of creativity and connection are beginning to go upmarket – seeking to broaden the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle to other generations.

7. A return to face-to-face interaction

The new generation of digital nomad work hubs aren’t the only businesses investing in
communal spaces for creative collaboration. This year, IBM brought thousands of its workers back in house, ending a decade of steady progress promoting remote working practices. And Workplace Trends and Randstad have found that, “despite the tech revolution, Gen Z and Millennials crave in-person collaboration”.

8. Statisticians will be in hot demand

With the containing importance of AI and Big Data interrogations, there will be a commensurate rise in the need for statisticians who can program the algorithms, work with the data, and apply the logic to business context.

9. A steadily aging workforce

As the population ages, there is no doubt that the complexion of the workforce will change along with it. With the falling unemployment rates we are experiencing at the moment, this is creating opportunities for older workers to return to the workplace. However, how this trend will hold up long-term against the context of increasing automation and changing skills requirements remains to be seen.

10. Deregulation of labor laws

The USA is facing a deregulation of labor laws as the current administration gradually unpicks all the progress made by the previous administration. Regulations Obama brought in to require companies to report compensation by race, gender and ethnicity and log workplace injuries are already being undone. While the changes might be welcomed by some businesses, it doesn’t bode well for workers’ rights or the much-needed progress in gender and diversity issues in the workplace, especially the pay gap.

11. Growing demand for flexible working practices

Companies who don’t offer flexible working are now at a competitive disadvantage. Gallup has found that 51% of employees said they would change jobs for one that allowed them to work more flexible hours. Expect this to become the norm – and flexible practices, such as the rise in “bleisure” travel to continue to grow in popularity.

12. A refocus on digital privacy

Recent breaches and forthcoming regulations mean organizations are going to have to get more serious about digital information management – and this is going to affect hiring, induction, ongoing training and dismissal processes.