Published: Mar 09 2020

3 Trends in the 2020 Workplace Experience

Your employees are your most valuable resource.

They are the ones who ensure business gets done and that you are delivering for your customers. It is also where companies are spending the most money, to bring on and retain top talent that can make or break the bottom line.

As a result, employee expectations are driving big changes in workplace management. Employers, now more focused than ever, are focused on cultivating a workplace experience that facilitates the highest levels of productivity.

At its most basic, the workplace experience is the sum total of all experiences an employee has within an organization. These experiences create the foundation of the company, leading to the creation of office culture and environment that that either helps or hinders production.

To ensure the best possible workplace experience, many companies are reimagining the entire built environment of their offices, changing layouts, updating facilities and implementing policies that are transforming the way people work engage with the spaces around them.

Companies are opening office gyms, investing in new technologies, providing wellness opportunities and even stocking break rooms with snacks, all with the hope of creating a stronger emotional connection between employees and their workplace. And in doing so, companies hope to increase the overall engagement, productivity and employee retention in the workplace.

With so many changes happening, here are three major trends we expect to see in 2020.

2020 trends in the workplace impacting the employee experience.

Trend 1: Employee expectations continue to evolve.

This is not a new trend in 2020. Instead, this is a constant theme we continue to see shape long-term decisions for many companies. As younger generations enter the workplace, we continue to see employees demanding more flexible work hours and the ability to work from locations beyond their assigned desk at the office.

Adrienne Rowe, Global Director of Workplace Strategy at Merck, explains:

“Generations can be a useful conversation starter in many cases, but these definitions are less useful for much of the practical work of real estate…. most individuals have the same essential priorities. They want places to collaborate, focus and socialize with colleagues.”

This is made even more clear when you scan “Top Employers of 2020” and “Best Places to Work” lists across all industries. You will notice that employees of all generations are happiest when their employers give them the flexibility and respect to determine where, when and how they work.

See how EY is addressing the changing needs of their employees.

Ultimately, everyone desires flexibility and autonomy from their workplace, and companies are taking notice, responding with significant overhauls to their office environments. And with more organizations going this route and employees of all generations seeking out these kinds of workplace experience when job hunting, it is unlikely we will see this trend come to an end any time soon.

Trend 2: Companies are implementing flexible and mobile work options.

In response to the first trend above, companies are implementing new strategies to accommodate the needs and desires of their workforce. Coupled with the rising cost of real estate, companies are dramatically shifting their real estate and facilities investment plans for the future.

We are now seeing companies shift away from renting or building new office spaces to accommodate new workers, instead moving toward maximizing the space they already have.

With the rise of flexible working hours and remote employees, hoteling initiatives are allowing companies to move away from assigned desks that are empty half the time. Instead, companies are making existing space available for the employees in the office while implementing tools and procedures that allow remote employees to still connect and collaborate from wherever they are. This ultimately reduces the real estate burden while giving employees more flexibility in how and where they work – a win-win for companies and workers.

Hotdesking with activity-based workspaces is also helping organizations maximize their existing office space while also increasing the “cool factor,” where employees can choose the environments they work best in and provide more variety in the office beyond the sea of endless cubicles or rows of open-office desks from decades past.

See how Georgia-Pacific embraced a flexible workspace with hoteling desks and conference rooms.

These initiatives are supported by workplace management scheduling tools, which not only transform how people engage with different spaces in the office, but also add a level of reporting that companies have not had access to in the past. With space utilization data now available, companies can prove the ROI on these new initiatives, leading to even more aggressive changes to the workplace that are yet to come.

Trend 3: Companies are investing in more advanced workplace management technology.

Ensuring an exceptional workplace experience has moved past flexible and remote work benefits. Now, companies are looking to create a truly desirable workplace that where people actually want to work. To cultivate this environment, companies are investing in smart building technology that is elevating their offices to a new level.

We are seeing more organizations automated the processes that control building operational systems, including lighting, HVAC, building security and even user comfort – creating a better personal experience in the building and saves money through automation. By integrating these systems with space scheduling or facilities management solutions, companies are not only creating a more seamless experience, but also collecting more comprehensive data that they can use for more advanced initiatives.

Predictive analytics are also coming into play, with companies using data gather across systems to inform new Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives to yield predictions about unknown future events or simply anticipate the needs of their employees for a more seamless experience.

See how IoT is impacting the commercial real estate industry.

With the rise in innovative and disruptive technology finding its way into more offices, companies may end up scrambling to implement these new policies before their competitors in order to attract top talent.

Engaging employees in the modern workplace.

As employee expectations continue to change and organization continue competing for the highest quality talent, the biggest differentiators between organizations will be the workplace experience. Employees will seek out organizations with the best cultures facilitated by the most innovative and functional technology.

In order to stay competitive both in your market and in your talent acquisition, it is critical for companies to be investing in or at least exploring new ways to move beyond the static office environment. Whether it is through innovative new workplace management strategies or the most advanced technology, the race to provide the ultimate workplace experience is one that companies cannot afford to sit out.

Is your office ready to implement an office hoteling initiative? Read our blog post, 7 Best Practices for Implementing Office Hoteling, to make sure your new office strategy is successful.