Why the 2023 workplace will be about flexibility, accessibility, and Gen Z
Work has undergone great change over the past few years. From the rise of the digital nomad in the pre-pandemic years to the emergence of remote and hybrid work as a mainstay for employers everywhere, what will 2023 look like, not just from the perception of the workforce, but also for the workplace itself? Here are some trends that we think are worth paying greater attention to in the year to come.
Flexibility and hybrid work will just become ‘work’
In 2023, ‘hybrid work’ will no longer be a trend, but just part of normal everyday working life, but with flexibility at the center.
For one thing, while there have been conversations regarding the possibility of four-day work weeks, with the Singapore parliament debating the notion earlier this year, it turns out that two-thirds of employees in Singapore would much prefer flexible working arrangements that enable them to have better control of their work hours. A recent IDC report showed that sentiments across Asia Pacific were similar, with more than 56% of employees in the region wanting flexible work with options to work both in the office and remotely, even beyond the pandemic.
Thankfully, we’re already seeing more relaxed attitudes towards hybrid work; in a recent survey conducted by Centre for Creative Leadership, leaders from Japan, Australia, and Vietnam were found to be more open to arrangements in which employees are not 100% on-site; Singapore ranked the highest in embracing the normalizing of hybrid work, and offering the flexibility to their employees to work anywhere, at any time, while being the least likely to expect employees to be fully on-site.
Granted, while not every role may be suited for hybrid working arrangements, it is also very encouraging that employers are more amenable towards the idea; this was reflected in JLL’s Future of Work Survey 2022, which found that 56% of its Asia Pacific respondents said they will make remote working available to all employees by 2025.
Accessibility over presence
One of the biggest justifications over the recent push for workers to return to the office has been the need for people to better connect with one another to get work done.
However, as workers continue to push for flexibility as a default, organizations are looking at different ways for the right people to make the right connections to do the work that needs to be done. For situations where going to the office doesn’t make sense, we already have the right technological solutions that can help get people face-to-face, albeit virtually.
Investing in technology that provides employees with more equitable work experiences, whether better video that puts the participant front and center, or audio that helps them not just be heard, but also removes distractions from creeping in. At the same time, platform-agnostic collaboration solutions will enable IT departments to take advantage of hybrid work without having to deploy new audio and video infrastructure.
Meeting face-to-face is one way to get things done, but with the right technologies in place, the ability to access team members across different geographies and time zones will go a long way towards solving those tough problems at work.
The Rise of Gen Z
Gen Z, or Zoomers, are those born between 1997 and 2010, with the oldest members now 26 years old, and are expected to make up about 27% of the global workforce by 2025. They are the first truly digital generation and cannot remember a time without the internet. These digital natives are also coming into the workforce with totally different expectations around technology, while also being more pragmatic in how they embrace relationships both personally and in the workplace. For them, job loyalty takes a back seat versus learning experiences, and the job itself is viewed as a means to an end, and not how they identify themselves.
With Gen Z, business leaders must adjust their expectations; what worked for the millennials, much less Boomers, isn’t going to work with Zoomers. Practices relating to organizational culture, employee training and retention must be adjusted to accommodate the needs and demands of this group, while still ensuring that workers from differing generations are taken care of.
Employers can build a stronger foundation for this new generation of employees by putting in the effort to better understand their workplace personas, or how they prefer to work, as well as their opinions and reactions towards work policies being considered. Furthermore, the insight can be used to better inform the technology and real estate investments made to help them do their jobs better.
Now more than ever, leaders need to pay more attention to the voices of their employees, whether Gen Z or otherwise, especially when it comes to both retaining and attracting talent.