Workplaces across the globe have been through the wringer in the three years since COVID-19 disrupted the world as we all knew it. The pandemic accelerated many of the trends that were already gaining traction and created a massive shift in what employees want and need from the office. At the same time, companies are facing significant challenges ranging from fatigue in the workforce to budgetary concerns to an ultra-competitive drive to attract and retain talent.
Navigating the return to the office, the Great Resignation, and other issues that have created a turbulent professional landscape over the past year requires leaders to adopt a willingness to prioritize the employee experience. For many employers, this is among the defining priorities of the year. The good news is that 2023’s trends address and support creating an improved employee experience.
Let’s take a look at what’s ahead and how CORT can help leaders prepare for what’s to come in 2023 and beyond.
Incorporating Technology Into Office Design
Technology plays a powerful role in the modern workplace, and it can help create a stronger, more innovation-focused culture, forge connections, and attract talent. However, today’s take on integrating technology is much more than installing flat screens on the wall. Leaders should consider working with designers to create an intentional, design-driven adoption of technology that supports employees, inspires collaboration, and helps connect everyone in the organization.
By incorporating technology in thoughtful, strategic ways, organizations can also provide an experience that employees cannot get when working remotely. In turn, this can help bring people back to the office. In addition to providing elements like thoughtful digital displays and dynamic lighting, companies should consider technology that empowers employees to control their environment and enhance their experience.
Providing Employees With More Flexibility and Autonomy
Workers want greater autonomy in 2023 and beyond. Recent research from We Are Rose, a freelance marketplace, revealed that 71 percent of employees would forgo the option for moving up the ladder to have the flexibility to determine when (and where) they do their jobs.
That’s not to say that the workplace should become a free-for-all. Rather, leaders and key decision-makers must sit down and determine what their employees need and how to best provide it while making sure that teams and individuals can perform productively.
It’s also essential to differentiate what flexibility and autonomy means for each organization because it may look different. Data from Harvard Business Review’s hybrid work-study reveals that nearly six in 10 respondents valued flexibility over other benefits, with 61 percent of respondents indicating that they want to exercise the flexibility afforded them in the way that’s best for them.
The benefits of providing individuals with greater choices in where, when, and how they work include attracting and retaining talent. Additionally, a recent study conducted by Cambridge University, Boston College, and the University College Dublin revealed that making adjustments to the workweek can boost productivity and sales, reduce absenteeism, and reduce burnout. Other thought leaders in the professional landscape predict that approximately 90 percent of organizations will adopt some combination of hybrid work over the next few years, with workers willing to accept less money or benefits for the option of working remotely.
Whatever flexibility and autonomy looks like for each organization, communication of guidelines and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. The physical workplace must also provide flexibility to provide in-office workers with greater choices over the types of spaces they can work in while providing elements they can’t get at home. Employees are often coming onsite to accomplish tasks they can’t complete remotely, socialize, collaborate, and connect.
That’s why it’s essential for 2023’s workplace to provide more than just individual workstations and conference rooms. The office should incorporate multiple breakaway areas for team meetings and small group collaborations, areas for lounging and socializing, and various settings for employees to accomplish their work.
Supporting Employees’ Skill Development
The evolving workplace necessitates employers support employees in re-skilling and upskilling to keep pace. Additionally, research reveals that skills-based hiring is on the rise as employers increasingly value experience over academic credentials. In the past year, 63 percent more organizations focus on skills rather than degrees, which opens the talent pool and removes many of the barriers that people without a degree experience.
With nearly constant evolutions in technology and a continually shifting workplace landscape, the need for highly skilled workers has increased by 25 percent over the past two decades, with the top in-demand skills reflecting those in need to make hybrid workplaces functional. The drive for digital skills across every sector has grown and people are responding by building their skills.
In addition to technical skills, some of the most valued by employers include communication, collaboration, leadership, customer service, and attention to detail — all skills that job seekers are expected to have. However, many of the youngest job seekers feel ill-equipped to meet that demand, adding to the widening managerial skills gap that plagues many organizations.
Generation Z employees surveyed by Gartner revealed that the pandemic placed significant roadblocks in their professional plans, with 51 percent responding that despite their education, they were unprepared with the necessary people skills like negotiating, public speaking, and interpersonal relations.
Providing the support to employees at all stages of their careers will drive companies’ success in 2023 and beyond, while preparing workers to better meet the demands of their professions can support today’s multigenerational workforce and help attract top Gen Z talent too. Leaders can do so by providing learning opportunities to help the workforce develop skills in areas by providing leadership and development training, various types of training modalities to suit varying learning styles and learning pathways that provide career mobility.
Addressing Mental Health Concerns
Wellness was already on employees’ radar prior to the pandemic, and today, it’s more valuable than ever. Workplace wellness is much more than a free gym membership. A recent report from Monster revealed that more than 50 percent of employees value wellness more than salary increases, with 61 percent of workers reporting burnout and increasing numbers of job seekers prioritizing work-life balance.
Far too many workers have experienced a decline in their well-being, with 28 percent of respondents to a Gympass survey indicating they are unhappy at work. Rising stress levels and a need to put people first has created a wellness trend that’s unlike those of yesteryear.
In 2023, organizations are increasingly answering the call to action to prioritize employees’ physical and mental well-being. What that looks like differs from business to business, but may manifest in various ways, including encouraging employees to take paid time off to rest and build emotional resilience. Leaders might also hold open discussions to navigate challenges and conflicts without consequences and engage in various principles of well-being in the workplace. Accommodating varying work styles and creating dynamic spaces within the office, providing autonomy, and creating a culture with well-being at its center, will support a healthier, more resilient, and productive workforce.
Aligning the Work Environment to Employee Expectations
The year is already underway and trends may continue to emerge. However, meeting employee expectations and creating an improved experience are at the heart of all the 2023 trends we’ve identified so far. How organizations respond to these trends will define how their employees and prospective employees view them.
Top trends include incorporating purposeful technology into the design, giving employees the autonomy and flexibility they crave, supporting skill development, and addressing mental well-being in addition to physical well-being. While many decision-makers may struggle to put their strategies into place, CORT is here to provide support and facilitate seamless adoption of trends by redesigning the workplace.
With CORT Furniture-as-a-Service™ (FaaS), organizations benefit from access to furniture over the burdens of ownership. Leaders can design (and redesign) various spaces throughout the office, update furnishings as needed, and reconfigure spaces to meet employees’ evolving needs.
CORT Permanently Flexible® Solutions facilitate the creation of spaces within the office where employees can rest and recharge, collaborate and socialize, and perform productively as teams and individuals. This happens through CORT Furniture-as-a-Service™, which allows organizations to benefit from access to furniture over the burden of ownership, and space utilization sensor technology and data from 4SITE by CORT. When paired together, these solutions allow businesses to design (and redesign) spaces within the office, update furnishings as needed, and learn how the workplace is being used to better meet employees’ evolving needs.
Are you ready to experience the difference CORT Permanently Flexible Solutions can make in redesigning the workplace to enhance employees’ experiences and meet 2023 trends head-on? Contact us today to discover how CORT can help your workplace evolve with the ever-changing times.