Workplace Trends Around the World

Sep. 3, 2019

The New York Times once wrote that the workplaces of decades past were designed to squeeze every last ounce of productivityfrom workers, and the development of the workplace since then has been a reaction to that mentality. It’s not about the number of desks per square meter. It’s about adapting the workplace to the needs of the people, instead of people having to shoehorn themselves into a space that robs them of creativity, enthusiasm, and engagement, thus thwarting efforts to improve productivity.

The debate about the future of the workplace can drive financial success and encourage employees to become more engaged and entrepreneurial. Studies show that employees who find their workplaces engaging and feel trusted by their companies produce better results. Part of that is providing them with a workplace that is a compliment to the tasks they need to fulfil instead of being a hinderance.

The onset of digital technologies and the transformation of business they bring has been the catalyst for a revolution in the workplace. However, this watershed moment has been felt differently across the globe. Polls of workers have shown that 15% consider themselves part of a digital organisation, but this level varies widely, from a high of 28% in India to only 2% in Japan and Mexico.

Digital Transformation

There are also differences to how various regions apply the opportunities provided by digital transformation. In Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, technology is employed to improve management efficiency. However, the focus in Europe, North America, and Latin America is on analytics. This split largely carries over to human resources as well, with Europe and North America tapping technology’s ability to improve learning and development, while performance management is the main topic in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and Latin America as well.

Meanwhile, global surveys show us that around a third of all offices are still open space facilities. While these concepts provide benefits in the form of collaboration, space-saving, and the breaking down of silos within a corporation, they also present challenges in the form of distractions. The clear leader in polls of workers around the world as to the worst distractions at their workplace is noise: from people talking, communicating, socialising, etc. Another concern in an open space environment is health and wellbeing, something an increasingly-knowledgeable workforce is aware of and demands of employers.

Technology can also help tackle these problems as well. Today, there are systems that can offer individuals the ability to set the temperature and lighting in their workspace through a mobile app. In offices that employ a hot desking regime, the app can also be used to reserve a desk away from noisier parts of the office or secluded workspaces for those who need to concentrate. These types of systems have gained traction in Europe and the makers of the technologies are now trying to expand their footprint to other regions as well.

Home Office or Co-Working?

When asked about their desires for the future of the workplace, employees are clear in their preference for working from home, and a grand majority of those surveyed believe working from home to be the most productive option. This has become a more viable option for many employers thanks to the spread of technology that allows for remote collaboration and working in general. Followed by working from home, workers would appreciate flexible work arraignments. However, these are exceedingly rare, reaching their highest level in Canada at 16%, with only 6% of employers offering such regimes in China and Japan, and only 9% worldwide.

Co-working is another trend gaining steam globally, a study by PwC found that flexibility of space is increasingly important for office and real estate companies. Web portal Statista reported that that from only 3 in 2005, the number of co-working facilities worldwide was expected to reach 18,900 last year.

These trends are an important indicator for employers. In today’s competitive labour market where the top talent can make demands, it’s necessary that real estate firms and companies alike monitor and implement the latest technologies that not only make their workers happier and healthier, but also improve their bottom line.

Aneta Klímová
Aneta Klímová