Reflecting on 2022 Workplace Trends

With the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting shaking up the workforce and increasing employee turnover rates, 2022 quickly became the year of prioritizing the employee experience. This employee-first approach helps improve morale and engagement, strengthen company culture, and meet workers’ needs in a way that can boost retention.  

The top workplace trends of 2022 all contribute to creating a more positive employee experience. Becoming aware of these trends and adapting them to fit your company can create a progressive work environment that meets employee needs, attracts top-tier talent, and can thrive — even in rapidly changing circumstances.  

Let’s explore six of the most significant workplace trends of 2022 and what we can expect heading into the New Year.  

Increasing Demands for Remote and Hybrid Work Options  

Remote and hybrid work were trending in 2021 and gained significant traction in 2022, proving to organizations around the globe that remote and hybrid work are here to stay.  

Owl Labs‘ 2022 “State of Remote Work” report indicated that 24% more workers chose to work remotely than in 2021, with a 16% increase in those choosing hybrid work. Additionally, 66% of the 2,300 full-time United States workers surveyed said they would immediately begin looking for a more flexible job if their employers removed the ability to work remotely, and 39% said that they would resign.  

Data leader Foundry released its “2022 Future of Work” study, which found that 94% of organizations shifted to a hybrid work structure in 2021, and 71% plan to make the change permanently. Additionally, 69% of decision-makers agree that the change is embedded in their planning for staffing and office space moving forward. 

As the workplace continues to evolve, one thing has become clear: Employees demand flexibility. Although many employers worry that remote and hybrid work will harm productivity and company culture, research suggests that it’s a necessity — particularly for organizations that want to attract and retain top talent.  

The Pros and Cons of Hybrid and Remote Work 

Although employers worry about losses in productivity, more than three-quarters of workers report that they’re more productive when working remotely. Fewer interruptions, reduced stress, and increased happiness are among some of the top benefits for employees. Organizations enjoy fewer overhead costs, with the option to downsize their footprint and access a larger talent pool.  

With the rise of both remote and hybrid work in 2022, several pain points have also arisen. The challenge of building and maintaining company culture has muddied the waters for mergers and acquisitions, which have become increasingly complicated as employee relationships shift and organic opportunities to connect may be missed. Additionally, the constant shifting of hybrid and remote work policies has increased employee stress. 

What the Future Holds in 2023 

Moving into 2023, organizations must focus on two key elements: Creating consistent policies for remote and hybrid work and centering employees in their decisions. In the earliest days of the effort to return to the office, many employees experienced a bit of whiplash as conditions forced continued, dramatic changes in policies. 

Building trust and a strong culture requires consistency and effort. Leaders must revisit their company values and norms and take the time to set clear expectations with the workforce with stellar communication so everyone is in the loop and on the same page. The key to coordinating effective hybrid work includes considering everyone’s needs, prioritizing inclusivity, and providing a flexible in-office environment.  

Coordinating Flexible Work Schedules 

The future of work has changed dramatically, and there’s no going back. In 2022, organizations learned that flexibility may very well be the future of work. As desirable as employees find hybrid and remote work schedules, recent research suggests that flexible work schedules have been even more so in 2022 and will continue trending upward into the new year.   

Providing flexible work schedules has proven to be another key strategy for delivering an improved employee experience. A recent survey from Deluxe, a digital payroll solutions firm, revealed that 20% of employees cite adopting flexible scheduling as the single most important action employers could take to improve working conditions.  

Flexible work schedules provide employees with a level of agency and autonomy that allows them to create the work-life balance that works best for them. While many employers worry that allowing employees to choose the times they start and end their workdays may cost productivity, many workers put more hours in. Even better, they can choose their work time based on when they can be most productive.  

Pros and Cons of Flexible Schedules 

Despite the demand for flexibility, it’s not without its downsides. Those with flexible work arrangements report multiple obstacles that can challenge effective performance. Physical health issues, an inability to learn new skills, and mental health issues were among the challenges uncovered by McKinsey. Scheduling meetings, creating cohesive teams, and the blurred lines between home and work are also possible cons. 

On the upside, flexible schedules provide a sense of autonomy to employees. Additional pros include an increased work-life balance and organizations’ ability to be open to a broader candidate pool while attracting (and retaining) top talent. To maximize the benefits, leaders must engage in intentional leadership, with set team meetings, one-on-ones, and consistent support.  

What’s Ahead in 2023  

In their quest to create positive employee experiences, some companies are considering doing away with the five-day work week, while others will increasingly adopt provisions allowing flexible hours. A 2022 survey from McKinsey revealed 80 million Americans work flexibly. It also revealed that among people who recently searched for a new job or planned to soon, the third most common reason was searching for flexible working arrangements. 

Employees will continue paying attention to the flexibility their companies offer. In 2023, those that don’t offer flexible schedules run the risk of losing talent. While the traditional work model consistently forced employees to fit their lives around their work, today’s workforce wants the ability to fit their work around their lives, something flexible schedules allow. 

Designing Multifunctional Workplaces 

Flexible schedules are only one facet of the complex solution to providing excellent employee experiences. Given how hybrid work dominated 2022, another trend emerged: The increased demand for office spaces that meet the workforce’s unique and evolving needs.   

Because employees no longer have to come into the office, the design should accommodate how they work when they do. Research suggests that when they work onsite, employees often prioritize collaboration, building relationships, and using resources they don’t have access to when working remotely.  

Some individuals may require space for focused work. Others could benefit from private spaces for meetings or brainstorming sessions.  

In a 2022 study, Qualtrics found that employees with access to work arrangements that support and enhance productivity experienced 92% higher engagement rates and 93% would recommend their company to others. These statistics underscore why multifunctional design has been so critical in 2022 and why it will continue to be essential in 2023 and beyond.  

Elements of a Multifunctional Workplace 

First, leaders must engage with their employees and discover what they need from the physical office. It also helps to have data that can support those decisions. For example, 4SITE by CORT offers anonymous, objective space utilization sensor data that delivers key insights to decision-makers. The technology details when spaces are used, dwell time, and other key insights.  

From there, the office can be dynamically designed to meet the needs of individuals, teams, and the organization at large while facilitating the tasks they engage in when they come into the office. In 2022, leaders frequently found themselves designing open concept spaces, breakout areas, quiet zones for focused work, and areas for meetings and presentations.  

Planning for 2023 

Like hybrid and remote work, and flexible work schedules, multifunctional office space offers employees the benefit of deciding how and where they work, whether they’re working remotely or onsite. Organizations that leverage CORT’s tools become Permanently Flexible™. The data from 4SITE allows continuous measurement, while Space360 offers the freedom to experiment with various designs and furniture arrangements. CORT Furniture-as-a-Service™(FaaS) delivers the flexibility needed to outfit the varying spaces within the multifunctional office and quickly adapt to shifting needs, limiting companies’ financial exposure.  

Creating a Home-Like Office Space with Resimercial Design 

With the rise in hybrid work and the drive to improve employee experiences, 2022 also saw another trend gain traction: Resimercial design. Incorporating the comforts of home into the workplace creates spaces that attract employees and make them want to return to the office.  

By creating offices that feel like more of an extension of home yet provide more resources and benefits than workers can access at home, organizations can also foster a positive work environment. Home-like office spaces support productivity and minimize anxiety.  

How CORT Furniture Rental Can Help Find Balance  

FaaS makes it fast, easy, and cost-effective for companies to design (and redesign) their office spaces to incorporate traditional and residential pieces. CORT favorites for the home like the Wilkes Sofa, Anson Chair, Mackenzie Coffee Table, and Alexo Mirror can easily be brought into the office for a homey, yet professional aesthetic.  

The neutral colors and design of these favorite pieces are calming and reminiscent of home, making them ideal for mixing with functional office furniture. A few of CORT’s favorite functional pieces that would incorporate seamlessly include the Upswing Black Work Chair with Arms and STAKS Teaming Tables 

Utilizing round tables helps facilitate collaborative work and the adjustable work chairs provide employees with flexibility and comfort. Consider adding in the popular Aiden Rug and Silk Tree to make the collaborative workspace even cozier.  

Looking Ahead to 2023 

Resimercial design will continue trending in the coming year. In 2023, it will go further, with organizations shifting to create a sense of place and community at work. In addition to furniture, office design will incorporate art, lighting, and natural elements, which elicit feelings of calm, groundedness, and connection to the outdoors. With FaaS, leaders can change pieces as needed to refine the design or scale according to changing workplace needs. 

Prioritizing Employee Health and Wellness  

The world of work has undergone seismic shifts in the wake of the pandemic, sparking a growing focus on the mental and physical health and well-being of the workforce — both at home and at work. These efforts accelerated in 2022 and will continue well into 2023 and beyond. 

Recent research from Deloitte surveying Gen Z and Millennials showed high levels of burnout resulting from ongoing workplace stress. Not only did 43% of Millennials and 45% of Gen Z respondents indicate they feel burned out due to workplace intensity and demands, but more than four out of 10 respondents also said that burnout was a leading reason to quit their jobs. Worse, 25% of Millennials and 20% of Gen Zs said that their employers didn’t take burnout seriously.  

These statistics cannot be ignored. Individuals are prioritizing mental health more than ever and aren’t afraid to leave positions that don’t support their well-being. In 2022, more employers began investing in wellness programs, including in-office offerings like meditation classes and stress management workshops. With the rise of remote and hybrid work models, wellness programs have evolved to include credits toward fitness programs and healthy food prep services, increased availability of telehealth and online health consultations, and intentional social gatherings. 

What To Expect in 2023 

Employers must evaluate how their organization can support employees as a larger employee retention strategy. Putting employees first boosts the employee experience, and yields improved engagement, higher productivity, and increased morale while minimizing sick leave costs. In 2023, more employers will invest in mental health with trends such as wellness apps, nutrition education, and functional fitness to help enhance employee performance while keeping them strong and healthy. 

Focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Protocols and Policies 

Workplaces will be more diverse than ever in 2023, accelerating the 2021 and 2022 trends of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But it’s more than just a rising trend.  

Recent years have seen society’s demand for fair practices and safe workplaces for everyone. Increased connectivity makes it more difficult for companies and individuals to hide injustices, and the public is holding organizations, companies, and brands accountable for their missteps. 

Incorporating mental health awareness, accommodations for people with disabilities, and supporting people’s rights regardless of the color of their skin, gender, or sexual orientation.  

Although there have been significant strides, organizations and decision-makers must prioritize DEI, not only to support positive public perception but also to support employee retention. According to data from Deloitte, an organization’s lack of commitment to DEI is among the chief factors driving employees to leave within two years, while inclusive environments entice workers to stay for five years or longer.  

Looking Ahead to 2023 

This is a trend that organizations, leaders, and decision-makers must pay attention to while maintaining awareness of their role in creating an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment. Consider focusing on DEI initiatives such as awareness and support of gender identity and expression, multigenerational workforces, and employee mental health.  

Awareness of microaggressions and unconscious biases is essential, particularly because even what seems like a subtle or unintended insult can increase stress and employee turnover while perpetuating the prejudices that society is trying to eradicate. To promote equity across the workforce, transparency and clarity in all processes are key. 

Assess Your Workplace and Plan for the Future 

Before the ball drops and we officially bid goodbye to 2022, it’s essential for organizations to reflect not only on their goals for the year ahead but also on how well they’re keeping up with the current year’s most important trends. Adapting to meet trends like adopting employee-first hybrid and remote work policies, flexible schedules, multifunctional workspaces, resimercial design, employee health and wellness, and DEI helps promote a healthy, robust culture. It’s also a critical step in starting 2023 in a strong, successful manner while creating an employee experience that attracts and retains talent.