What Will Work Look Like in 2022? (Hint: Not the Metaverse)

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That doesn’t have to mean everyone talking at once. Instead, Szafranksi predicts, we’ll all learn to make better use of text responses and questions to take part without interrupting the speaker. We’ll also learn, he says, to book shorter, more focused meetings, helped by knowing when people are at their best for such tasks. “The prime meeting time will be Tuesday through Thursday, between 10 am and noon,” he says, with other tasks and discussions pushed to non-concurrent working rather than at-the-same-time meetings.

Time Will Matter More Than Place

The nature of offices will expand to accommodate our new way of using them for hot-desking, collaboration, and social activities, says Andy Wilson, director of Dropbox UK. But our working hours will also be reshaped, with staff given the autonomy to structure schedules around the rest of their life.

“Next year will mark a step away from traditional hours to nonlinear days,” he says. “This means introducing policies such as core collaboration hours, which is time reserved for live meetings.”

To help that, workplace software will need “live collaboration” features beyond video calls, letting colleagues work together on documents at the same time, he adds.

Companies Will Have to Be Better to Avoid the Great Resignation

The “big quit,” as Tara Ataya, chief people and diversity officer at Hootsuite, calls it, will force a reckoning—but the outcome could be positive, finally driving companies to put their people first. That includes reimagining traditional working models in order to let people choose where and how they work, she says.

“Workplaces of the future will address talent shortages by focusing on diversity, equitable practices, and purpose,” Ataya says. “They will drive better benefits and encourage talent mobility to drive retention.”

Remote Work Will Become Strategic

Remote working will no longer be seen just as a temporary solution to pandemic lockdowns or as an employee benefit but as a hedge against future crises, says Jessica Reeder, senior all-remote campaign manager at GitLab. “Just as organizations are currently expected to have succession and security plans, having a remote work strategy will be critical to business continuity,” she says.

Because of that, companies will need expertise in remote working and dedicated leadership positions focused on their future-of-work strategies, she adds, in order to design organizations that will attract the best talent.

No One Is Sure About the Metaverse

Nick Hedderman is the director of modern work and security at Microsoft UK; the software giant unveiled its own “mixed reality” version of the metaverse workplace after Facebook’s grand announcement, so it’s no surprise he’s all in on the idea as a way to create better virtual spaces.

"This could be things such as conference rooms and offices that are designed to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster water-cooler connections in a hybrid environment,” he says, “Moving from 2D to 3D environments can allow more to be done, but people will need easing into 3D interactions.”

Leanne Wood, chief HR officer at Vodafone, notes that plenty of companies are already using technologies core to the metaverse, though it may not look the way Mark Zuckerberg described. “Without doubt new technologies like 3-D environments, AR, and VR are going to transform the way we interact and live our lives,” she says. “I suspect that, like lots of big trend predictions, the reality will take a slightly different form to the one that made the headlines, but the impact of technology on the world of work is going to continue to be significant.” That’s one prediction that’s sure to hold true.


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