For many, 2016 hasn't been the greatest of years. What with the turbulence of the Brexit vote, Donald Trump becoming the US President, and a host of famous deaths - not to mention the changing shape of toblerone (outrageous!) - one can be forgiven for looking forward to 2017 with great anticipation.
While we may not be able to predict what world events might happen in 2017, we can have a good go at giving you our predictions for the workplace.
So what might the workplace look like in 2017?
Wellness in the workplace
The fitness industry has taken off over the last few years, and you only have to look at the abundance of fitness and healthy diet books on the market to see that the industry is booming. But has the world of work caught up? For many office workers, no - they still sit at their desks for around eight hours a day, and if the many offices I've worked in are anything to go by, there's usually snacking involved. It's not a great combination in terms of waistlines, wellbeing or general health.
For many workers, the nearest they get to fitness in the workplace is reading about the local gym discount they could get when they start, and that's if they are lucky. However, for many businesses, the health and wellbeing of its workers has started to become a bigger issue and as a result, employers are increasingly offering perks as part of the job package, which can include extras such as fresh fruit in the office and gym memberships.
Employers should be taking their workers’ health and wellbeing more seriously. Staff can benefit from changes such as making canteen menus healthier, providing gym memberships and medical check-ups. The relationship between wellbeing at work, productivity and low absentee rates is well established and SMEs need to look at their culture and whether costs could be reduced by better engagement.
Have you ever started at a new company to find they have nothing ready for you when you arrive? No computer, no login details, no introductory meetings set up? Not the best first impression, right? It is important for employees to feel welcome to a company, to be valued from day one and to start off on the right foot.
It sounds simple and it is sure to benefit your company. So why do so many companies not have a new employee onboarding process? Instead, the only information most people get before they start is their contract and what to do on the first day.
Hopefully, 2017 will be the year this changes. The year where employees are given information about the company’s ambition and goals weeks before start dates. Where they know the products or service features fully before they step through the door and they have some idea about who the team they will be working with, so there are less first day nerves.
"While we may not be able to predict what world events might happen in 2017, we can have a good go at giving you our predictions for the workplace."
AR and VR in the workplace
With increased flexibility to working hours, and remote working become more and more popular among employers, working online has become both a necessity and the norm. And as 2017 approaches, companies are beginning to see the benefit of using virtual and augmented reality.
Virtual reality applications will enable employees to have as much flexibility as they need and will be able to access the office space via virtual reality software. For example, staff who are unable to attend meetings directly may be able to sit in on the meeting via VR in the comfort of their own home or even on the move.
And conference calls, usually the best way to have multiple people in a conversation apart from actually meeting in the same room, may be obsolete with the advent of AR and VR - far better to be able to read body language or make eye contact then have the problematic conference call.
The beginning of the end of internal email
Heading into 2017, communication tools have evolved and developed so that internal emails will quickly become a thing of the past.
Collaborative work tools such as instant messaging services Slack, Dropbox and Basecamp, are increasingly being used by workplaces to cut down on the amount of emails in worker’s inboxes, easing both pressure and stress and creating a more efficient workforce. Research has shown that it can take 64 seconds to get back to work after checking a new email message, while other studies have shown that can add up to lost hours every day.
The Casual Office
The workplace is in a state of flux, from a loosening of the 9-5 and remote networking opportunities to paperless offices. But one thing that seems to have stayed over time is the office dress code. When we think of the office many still think of the smart attire, the shirt and tie. And for many employers they have policies in place outlining what is acceptable for their staff to wear. But is it time to get with the times?
Many companies are starting to ease their working dress codes to something a little more relaxed - Nationwide is just most recent case of big businesses now allowing employees to wear jeans at the office. And it makes sense to allow a more relaxed dress code. Your staff will feel more at ease, less stressed and, in turn, more creative.
Ok, it might not be for everyone, but if there is an opportunity to relax the dress code rules in your company then you may well feel the benefits in 2017.
Looking to get ready for a successful 2017?
BrightHR is offering a free 30 day trial to small business owners (and after that it's only £2 per employee per month). Find out more at BrightHR
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