Global report shows connectivity, innovations and uncertainty are rewriting the rules of the workplace.

A workplace where people and robots collaborate, employees’ personal brands are bigger than their employers’ and the office is a destination for wellness. These emerging trends and others are set to transform the way we work and how leaders direct their businesses over the next 25 years and are just some of the findings of the Global Workplace Trends report by Sodexo.

The global services provider has interviewed some of the world’s biggest thinkers and investigated emerging trends and academic research to uncover the trends that will impact the nature of the workforce and influence future leaders.

Underlying all of the trends is the changing view of the employee and how they will increasingly put themselves first.

The five trends which will change the UK workforce are:

Next Generation Robotics: Whilst some uncertainty exists about the impact of robots, they will create more than two million jobs in the next eight years and will in fact collaborate with people on uniquely human jobs.

Personal Branding: Employees will increasingly become more aware of their own brands, taking a priority over their employers’. Personal branding is taking on a new life and getting deeper scrutiny, as employers look to understand potential risks and leverage the power of employees’ personal brands for the good of the company.

Intergenerational Learning: Training and expertise will no longer be a top-down or old-to-young process. With an ageing population and the arrival of millennials in the workplace will bring a great opportunity for learning between the generations.

Wellness in the Workplace: As the lines between work and ‘life’ become even more blurred, workers will seek more than financial or functional benefits. The workplace will become a wellness destination, where employees will demand an environment that maintains or even enhances their quality of health. This goes beyond the insurance type packages that many large businesses already offer.

The Rise of Cross-Workplaces: The newest iteration of collaborative workspaces takes co-working to a new level, with organisations not only sharing physical space and resources but also intentionally structuring interactions across job functions and specialisms that encourage problem-solving approaches in order to combine strengths and address global issues.

David Bailey, CEO Corporate Services, Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “Our study provides a valuable insight into the many factors that are set to change the way our workplaces look and operate over the next few decades.

“It is important that businesses are constantly looking forward to ensure they are in a position to respond to the changing demands of employees and their clients.

“It’s critical for business leaders to recognise the underlying trends driving change, to evaluate their significance and stay ahead of – rather than follow – them. As a top global employer we have a front row seat to understanding the factors that will shape the workplace of the future.”

Other trends identified in the report include the increasing importance of agility, highlighting that business will seek to find the holy grail of speed plus stability, enabling them to respond to new conditions whilst keeping employees satisfied.

With a workforce hungry for positive change, organisations will be under more pressure to demonstrate how they are actively working towards sustainability, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The physical space, technology and amenities offered in the working environment will also be key to keeping a happy workforce.

Finally, the report acknowledges the movement of people across geographical and cultural borders. The sheer spread and scale of the relocation of workers, in both emerging and developed economies, is driving new opportunities to demonstrate inclusive leadership through evaluating skill needs, availability, location benefits and effective cultural integration.

Futurologist, James Bellini, added: “The world of work is changing rapidly – and radically. This study highlights the likely impact, up to 2030. of an unprecedented age of technological disruption and shifting attitudes.

“A new economic paradigm will pose future leaders with a challenging operational agenda. They will need to be more than just financially savvy or a whizz at marketing. They will need to understand their talent pool as never before. 
“An increasingly ‘blended’ workforce – reaching beyond the boundaries of the enterprise to external networks and fluid ‘gig’ ecosystems – will be much more self-aware and demanding.

“It will seek out corporate cultures that prioritise the employee experience, with a strong focus on individual health and well-being, the realisation of personal brand potential and a commitment to diversity and good corporate citizenship.”

The Workplace Trends Report is grounded in primary and secondary research. Initial identification of trend topics came from research, including consulting global news sources focused on HR and the workplace, and through independent insights into workplaces around the globe. Having identified global topic-area experts, more than 55 hours of interviews were conducted (two to six expert interviews per trend). Secondary source material and statistics have been compiled from global news sources and research databases. Trends were curated by distilling the findings of the research into a report with relevancy to global workplaces.

Download the 2017 Sodexo Global Workplace Trends Report here.

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