The future could see a dramatic rise in co-working spaces as businesses wrestle with whether to allow staff to work from home or force them back to a dedicated office.
That is the view of Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy. “In 2022, we’ll see a lot more trial and error as companies figure out how to draw more of their people back to the office.
“Workplace apps that make work life easier will be the next big thing: we’ll see automation of tasks on the phone like submitting IT tickets or finding an available conference room; or checking who’s in the office and when so teammates can reserve desks together.
“Choosing where you sit based on what type of work you’re doing, virtual mapping, touchless access, reserving your desk, lunch, or parking space… all this and more will be available through an app on your phone.
“Fast forward a decade, many people won’t have a designated office, but they’ll be working out of an office. The demand for co-working space has risen dramatically. We’re seeing companies start to monetise extra desk space in the wake of hybrid and remote work. It’ll be the norm for everyday companies to rent out their space – desks, event space, meeting rooms, roof decks, anything and everything.
“The future of work won’t be five days in the office. Nor will it be entirely remote. The answer lies somewhere in between. The companies that win in the next decade will be those that think deeply about what it means to create a workplace culture that helps people thrive.”
Stuart Templeton, head of UK at Slack, says the “old ways of working are simply not fit for purpose anymore”.
“In order to improve employee productivity, creativity and help increase the diversity of company workforces moving forwards, 2022 will be the year businesses create their own digital headquarters as a central place for work and social interaction,” he says.
“This isn’t to say workers won’t meet in-person again, but it does mean that most physical spaces, like offices, will become creative spaces for the likes of brainstorming, teamwork and in-person get togethers.
“By prioritising a digital HQ, employees will be able to work asynchronously in a distributed work environment that allows them to strike a balance between remaining productive, while avoiding burnout.
“Only when businesses overhaul their existing infrastructure and transform their digital space into a HQ where work happens, will they succeed in the years ahead.”
Peggy de Lange, VP international expansion at Fiverr, says 2021 proved beyond all reasonable doubt that people really can work from anywhere and at any time.
“It’s clear that the desire to return to the office just isn’t the same as it used to be pre-pandemic,” she says. “With hybrid working increasingly looking like the preferred way of working, businesses need to provide staff with the skills and equipment required to flourish as part of a hybrid workforce.
“We can expect the future of work to encourage agility, this will also be extended to the way that businesses look to hire talent. Due to the financial constraints caused by COVID, we’ll continue to see the trend of hiring freelance specialists to cope with added demand.”
Phil Perry, head of UK & Ireland at Zoom, says the world of work will continue with its hybrid focus as we head into 2022.
“The hybrid model is popular with employees because it works for all,” he says. “Offering the workforce flexibility around where, when and even how they work is a major step forward in our working culture, which is long overdue, and is now a mainstay.
“With such a large number of professionals seeking to retain the flexible approach, it is clear that people see value in both the physical office and remote working. Our collective experience in the past 18 months indicates that the hybrid world will continue to benefit businesses and employees throughout 2022 and beyond.”
Sacha Michaud, co-founder & VP public affairs at Glovo, says 2021 solidified the importance of flexible work such as gig workers in today’s economy.
“As we approach 2022, it’s clear that the gig economy will only continue to develop throughout the year,” she says. “This rapid maturation of the market marks an exciting time for workers and businesses alike.
“However, the truth is that legislation is often slow to keep pace with fast-developing trends, and in this case, workers are the ones suffering from the sluggish response to recent growth in the gig economy.
“Social rights standards are being overlooked, and gig workers are being left without insurance coverage, access to training and a consistent income, deterring many from continuing this line of employment.
“It is therefore crucial that next year, local authorities and businesses collaborate to ensure that workers are receiving the benefits and support that they deserve. If we continue to ignore the importance of this side of the economy, we risk passing up an opportunity to reshape the way that we work forever.”