It’s no big surprise that the modern workplace is changing. Over the past twenty years, thanks to globalization and technology advancements, it’s nothing like it once was - with both positive and negative results. We’ve previously explored the rise of remote working and how employee expectations are changing, but what are the biggest trends to know when it comes to the workspace in general? Our latest research offers up the facts to know.
1. It’s more diverse than it has ever been
This might sound obvious, but it’s worth exploring what this trend actually means, and where it’s headed.
Globalization has eradicated many of the invisible borders between countries by connecting people, trade, and information. In a short space of time, this has led to the most diverse global workplace in history.
With this, a new reality of the “multinational corporation,” with much greater diversity and global collaboration, has come to light. The number of people employed by foreign-owned companies in the U.S., for example, increased 22% between 2007 and 2015.
Our own research corroborates this trend: around 1 in 3 global professionals now regularly communicate with people in multiple different time zones as part of their jobs.
What’s more, 1 in 4 global professionals work for companies with an internationally distributed customer/client base.
17% also report their companies have an internationally distributed workforce, and 26% say that they have an internationally distributed client/customer base.
These figures show how the workspace continues to move across borders, leading to greater connectivity across markets and presenting new opportunities.
2. It’s more flexible
Enabled by the rise of technology, companies all over the world are increasingly allowing – and sometimes actively encouraging – remote working or other flexible arrangements.
And because of this evolution, “clocking in” has become a figurative expression.
Our research into knowledge professionals indicates that across industries, three-quarters of people report that employers permit remote working to some extent. For one quarter of workers, working remotely is broadly accepted.
And no longer are these arrangements the domain of lower-paid jobs like telemarketing. Rather, we see tolerance for remote working actually increases as seniority and achievement level in the workplace increases:
83% of professionals in executive management positions are permitted to work remotely, while 63% of general office workers have this same benefit.
Additionally, flexible workplace culture seems to be the hallmark of younger, smaller companies. Among companies that were founded less than 11 years ago, remote working is accepted generally by over 80%, and accepted widely by about one third.
Rates of this decline among more established companies, significantly among companies that have been around for twenty years or more.
3. It’s more connected
It goes without saying, with a more distributed workforce comes more connectivity. But how far has this gone, and is it a positive or a negative?
While email changed the face of workplace communication with the spread of the internet, apps are furthering this evolution in tandem with modern technology.
Between 2012 and 2019, professional use of business or work-related apps has doubled globally. And understandably so; apps have enriched the communication experience by allowing workers to utilize things like cloud storage, massive file transfer systems, chatbots, and API integration across endless platforms and services.
But the effects of increased connectivity at work are complex, and not entirely positive. For the majority of workplace app users, 30 minutes per day are wasted just switching between different tools. 2 out of 3 workers waste at least 30 minutes per day just switching between workplace tools.
Among those who use collaboration tools several times a day, 83% rate their companies highly on productivity.
Crucially, with the blurring of lines between work and personal hours, the negative effects on mental health and quality of life are becoming evident. Maintaining constant availability outside of work hours is associated with a greater risk of physical health problems, anxiety, and a worsening of our interpersonal relationships.
4. Taking a people-first approach to work
With all these major changes taking over the modern workplace, there are some clear takeaways for businesses to consider. Perhaps the most important of all is that with such dramatic increases in connectivity and the health implications that come with it, it’s imperative to keep people front of mind.
Introducing flexible working schemes and putting a renewed focus on culture can make a big difference, but crucially, ensuring employees are aligned with brand vision is key. According to our research, 11% of employees say they don’t feel aligned with their company’s vision, values and operating principles.
The lesson is a simple one: listen to what your employees are asking for - you’ll reap the rewards.