No surprises in new report on future workplace trends

The latest Global Workplace Trends report from Sodexo focuses on the ‘workplace experience’ and how it affects levels of engagement, wellbeing and corporate performance. It’s an undemanding study that sets out seven trends covering familiar themes in a familiar way, even though the authors claim it offers ‘fresh insights’. As well as the idea of ‘experience’, it touches on ideas about the intersections of digital and physical space and the implications for people and organisations as well as the workplace professions. It uses the standard vocabulary, various buzzwords and the usual presuppositions to look at the impact of Millennials, AI, the sharing economy and so on. The visuals are the usual parade of smiling, diverse – but no unattractive, disabled and old – hipsters sharing screens and being creative in sun-dappled interiors. Sauce it with some virtue signals and it’s job done.

I’m being harsh because there’s nothing actually incorrect about the report, but it is largely a tick box exercise in stuff we’ve seen before. Just once, it would be nice to see one of these reports ask some genuinely difficult questions, challenge the genre’s own clichés and put the reader on the spot. Maybe that would be tricky commercially but how refreshing would it be to come across a report that suggests something new about the future workplace or at least acknowledges its inevitable messiness and compromises?

Having got that off my chest, this year’s Sodexo report focuses on ‘seven interconnected topics with an overarching unifying theme: the need for collective intelligence across all workplace domains’. The featured 2018 Sodexo Workplace Trends are:

  • Getting ready for Gen Z: With high expectations around technology and flexibility, while paying close attention to well-being and quality of life, Gen Z is reshaping the workplace in new and exciting ways for all generations.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT): shaping the future for workplace: IoT-supported workplace environments are an opportunity to operate and engage businesses and employees in a more effective manner by improving comfort in physical spaces, flexibility, precision in the process and ultimately quality of life for everyone.
  • Creating the emotionally intelligent workplace: Emotional intelligence has become a core skillset for high-performing organisations and leaders today. The workplace itself can be emotionally intelligent – by allowing people to bring their full spectrum of emotions to work, and aligning their fundamental human needs and motivations.
  • Re-imagining resources in the sharing economy: Forward-thinking organisations are redefining their business models to leverage the benefits of the sharing economy
  • Moving the needle of gender balance: To create a gender intelligent workplace, companies must examine the barriers that are holding back women and implement a cultural transformation driven by inclusive leaders.
  • Human capital management 3.0: Human Capital Management (HCM) 3.0 is bringing all the different technologies and programs (learning, recognition, wellness) together to transform the work experience into the life experience. HCM aims to enhance the employee experience and help organisations perform at their best.
  • Employees: New change for corporate responsibility: Employees are now key stakeholders when it comes to shaping CR strategies. It is important for companies to give their workforce a voice, enabling them to feel fulfilled—while working toward a better future for all.
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