After years of tumult, the workplace is steadily finding its new normal.
Understanding these cultural shifts allows you to see not just how people are working, but also thriving in their jobs.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the essential workplace trends of the next four years.
We cover everything from changing attitudes to emerging technology and the introduction of new policies.
The future of work
Several major developments have business leaders rethinking how they manage the workplace and very few employees will remain unaffected.
This section covers trends with the most dramatic and far-reaching effects.
1. Artificial intelligence
Although the use of AI is commonplace, 40% of business leaders say they plan to invest more in this technology.
Most companies say this won’t lead to layoffs but expect to re-skill their workforce.
One case study is pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, which is integrating AI into their doctor’s workflow.
They aim to develop algorithms that help their staff detect and diagnose diseases more quickly.
2. Hybrid arrangements
Hybrid work has become standard practice, even now the Covid-19 lockdowns have ended. 49% of employees split their working hours between the office and home.
Large companies are most likely to offer hybrid schedules as they have the infrastructure to support mixed working arrangements.
Their employees only attend the office an average of 3.3 days a week.
3. Employee experience
Focus is turning to the employee experience as 59% of people are quiet quitting their jobs.
The same Gallup survey showed team members are more likely to search for another position when they’re actively disengaged.
62% of business leaders admit attracting and retaining talent will be challenging in 2024.
They say they’re prioritizing development, career progression, and benefits to meet their team’s needs.
In particular, UAE enterprises are prepared to invest a combined $100 billion into benefits initiatives to combat the country’s high turnover rates.
4. Focus on skills over roles
73% of organizations are using skills-based hiring, a dramatic increase from around half in 2022.
They say it’s the most effective way to identify top candidates and improve retention rates.
Prioritizing expertise over credentials could help companies plug growing skills gaps in their workforce.
“The biggest issue senior leaders are dealing with right now is the chronic skills shortage. Every other challenge we’ve seen in workplaces, whether that’s introducing AI or meeting Net Zero goals, relies on having the right talent. As more technological innovations hit the market, and more economic pressures pile on, the skills gap will only widen.
By 2030, it’s predicted that economies globally will lose $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenues because of the skills gap. We have little over half a decade to try and reverse this trend as much as possible.”David Blake, CEO and Founder of Degreed
5. Employee wellbeing
Mental health will become a priority in 2024—92% of employees say it’s crucial for them to work for a company that supports their psychological well-being.
Stress levels are at an all-time high with many team members experiencing burnout.
Workers in customer-facing industries are especially at risk of mental health issues.
31% of them experience verbal abuse.
Many companies already provide mental health days and access to counseling.
However, a lesser-known craze is walking meetings. Business leaders like Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg have been known to debrief with colleagues while taking a stroll.
Trends in workplace demographics
One of the most notable trends is the changing face of the workforce.
Over the next four years, there will be new types of employees across different industries and locations.
6. Generational shifts
2024 will mark the moment when Gen Z outnumbers Baby Boomers in the workforce. However, the majority of workers will still be Millennials and Gen Z.
Businesses have to reassess what they can offer to meet the newest generation’s priorities.
Only 49% of Gen Z say their job is important to their identity compared to 62% of Millennials.
They look for workplaces that offer work-life balance, psychological safety, and autonomy.
7. Aging Workforce
The average employee is getting older. If the trend continues, over 55s will become over 25% of the workforce by 2031.
However, only 4% of companies have invested in support for multigenerational workforces.
They may face a struggle to attract and retain aging workers with shifting priorities over the next few years.
One outlier is the Singaporean company, SBSTransit. They’re looking at ways to keep veteran workers like automating strenuous tasks and introducing mentorship programs between older and younger employees.
8. Emphasis on diversity and inclusion
Everyone’s attention is on diversity and inclusion as 62% of employees call for further investment into initiatives.
The technology has the power to eliminate biases and promote inclusive language across all corporate communication.
However, there’s also a risk AI will inadvertently reinforce discriminatory practices due to its reliance on historical, possibly prejudiced data.
More and more workers are turning to freelancing. In fact, contractors are on track to become 50% of the US workforce by 2027.
They contribute an estimated $1.27 trillion to the country’s economy.
“Freelance hiring is a trend that picked up in 2023 and one I anticipate will only continue to grow in 2024 as both employers and workers realize the benefits of this model.
Because of the popularity of freelancing, businesses are looking for more efficient ways to find, hire, and pay skilled contractors. Both freelancers and employers are fed up with clunky, ad hoc solutions that come with hidden extra costs. There’s a real need for efficient gig working platforms that ensure fees aren’t much more than a credit card charge.”Michael Brooks, CEO at goLance
10. Global workforce
Workplaces of the future will have a larger mix of nationalities and cultures as even 75% of small businesses plan to hire abroad.
Many believe global expansion will be critical to success in the coming years.
Where are these companies likely to hire from in 2024? NordLayer puts Denmark as the number one spot for remote workers based on its level of safety and economic security.
Netherlands and Germany take second and third place respectively.
Trends in working arrangements
Working arrangements have been a popular topic of conversation since the Covid-19 pandemic upended the classic 9 to 5 office model.
As businesses increasingly adopt flexible and remote working policies, we’ll see the following trends emerging in 2024.
11. Incentivized returns to the office
72% of companies have mandated returns to the office after the Covid-19 pandemic.
At first, many employees were happy to take a pay cut to continue working from home, but that number is declining.
As remote work has become standard, 82% of leaders agree they have to incentivize teams to come back.
In an out-of-the-box move, Google is offering an on-campus hotel to help employees manage the transition back to the office.
They can avoid the commute just as they would with a work-from-home arrangement.
“The pandemic taught us a lot. Employees had a lot of time to reflect during the pandemic which clarified their values, wants, and needs—and they’re quite vocal about it.
One thing we did was maintain a hybrid work environment. We didn’t demand that everyone come back to occupy offices and cubicles, we left it to department heads to plan staffing in a way that best met the needs of students.
We found employees organically made their way back to the office because they wanted to. As a result of our hybrid policy, we’ve also been able to expand our recruitment reach and hire qualified workers in other states.”Lisa Sanchez, vice president of employee experience and engagement at ArtCenter College of Design
12. The right to flexible working hours
Attitudes toward traditional working hours have changed and 93% of employees now expect schedule flexibility from their jobs.
This workplace trend has gained so much momentum that the UK government is discussing a bill that allows workers a minimum of one flexible day per week.
In 2024, businesses will have to accommodate these expectations or say goodbye to staff.
56% of employees are willing to quit over return-to-office mandates.
13. Coffee badging
A survey by Owl Labs discovered 58% of hybrid workers only attend the office to swipe their badge and grab a coffee—hence the name “coffee badging”.
2024 may see this become the norm as a further 8% want to join in.
The CEO of Owl Labs, Frank Weishaupt, told Fox Business he sees coffee badging as employees “subtly protesting” return-to-work mandates.
14. Compressed work week
The idea of a four-day working week is gaining traction. 20% of companies say they’ve introduced a compressed schedule and a further 41% say they plan to implement one.
4 Day Week Global championed the movement by piloting compressed schedules across 900 organizations worldwide.
Every business that participated intends to stick to the new model.
They saw significant improvements in everything from revenue and engagement to turnover and recruitment due to the change.
15. Hot desking
Hybrid workplaces have given rise to a hot desking trend. 48% of companies have their teams share workstations throughout the week.
The Danish toy company, Lego, has gone a step further than hot desking by abolishing individual workstations altogether.
Instead, their new campus has zones for different kinds of activities including workshop spaces and open-plan areas.
Trends in workplace communication and collaboration
Given the rise of hybrid work, it’s unsurprising that we’re witnessing changes in the ways people interact with one another in the workplace.
Here are some of the biggest emerging trends to watch out for in 2024.
Around three-thirds of employees expect more personalization. They say ‘culture and belonging’ should be the main purpose of internal communication.
55% of organizations agree, saying individualized comms could have a significant impact on workplace culture.
What might personalized communication look like in 2024? Workers would most like to choose the channels they use and the types of content they receive from their employer.
17. Selective communication
37.1% of employees claim to have ‘meeting fatigue’ which is why leading companies are refining their communication.
Many have introduced meeting-free days which has resulted in up to 74% extra productivity while reducing stress.
“Over the last few years, enterprises have been in a lengthy transitional period where traditional communication methods like email and meetings have been supplemented with digital tools designed to support a new way of work. This has unintentionally created messy and bloated communication environments.
We discovered half of workers experience decreased productivity resulting from the exhaustive number of daily communications. In 2024, team leaders will become more intentional about which communication methods they use for certain types of tasks in an effort to improve clarity and reduce burnout.”Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith
18. Virtual meetings
The overwhelming majority of workers attend weekly virtual meetings. Given that video calls are a relatively new practice, there are bound to be challenges.
Around a quarter of participants can’t focus due to a lack of eye contact, not being able to tell turns, and colleagues doing distracting things.
Half feel they’d benefit from summaries, captions, and enhanced audio features.
Perhaps virtual reality has the answer. Meta has recently launched Horizon Workrooms which allows employees to participate as avatars.
Teams in 2024 could get the experience of distraction-free, in-person meetings without having to leave their homes.
19. Asynchronous collaboration
Despite the prevalence of distributed teams, most people experience an even split between synchronous and asynchronous work.
The majority of workers also say this is their preferred work style.
Teams aren’t just sticking to traditional, in-person modes of collaboration, but also the same tools.
50% still use messaging apps to work together. Perhaps we’ll see asynchronous collaboration become more popular when companies solve fledgling issues.
Typing assistant, Grammarly noticed they had to become more intentional about how they communicate when they went remote-first.
Their new workplace practices inspired new tone-checking and suggestion features in their app.
Trends in workplace technology
While artificial intelligence is still the biggest talking point, other innovations will have an impact on the workplace in 2024.
Here’s a look at the technology more and more businesses will adopt in the near future.
20. Sustainability tech
Around two-thirds of companies are investing in sustainable technology in 2024.
Business leaders want to reduce energy usage as both an environmental and a cost-cutting initiative.
Many companies are introducing smart technology to maintain comfortable conditions for offices without wasting power.
However, sustainability investments go beyond traditional offices. UPS has developed a navigation system called ORION to help drivers find the most efficient routes and save fuel.
21. The metaverse
Based on current trends, the market value of the Metaverse Workplace is expected to reach $27.7 billion by 2030.
Companies will be able to build digital companies where their staff can meet and conduct many aspects of their jobs.
However, only 30% of businesses will be prepared to launch their metaverse by 2026.
Find more statistics at Statista
Communication group, Havas, is getting ahead of the trend. They’ve developed a virtual recruitment service to foster a more engaging onboarding process for new hires.
22. Democratized tools
As technology becomes more accessible, companies can give teams and individuals more control over specific functions.
Rather than turning to experts, even novices can manage digital tasks themselves.
That’s why we’re experiencing a boom in low or no-code technology. The market is expected to reach $65 billion by 2027.
Some popular examples of no-code tools are Wix for websites, Shopify for ecommerce, and Appy Pie for apps.
23. Centralized systems
As teams become more complex, there’s a movement toward consolidated global systems.
Over half of companies say a dominant trend in 2024 will be the integration of payroll, HR, and employee management systems.
Consolidation may solve productivity issues—workers with inadequate tools can waste over two hours per day.
Experts say the ideal number of solutions is between one and three tools per function.
Australian financial company, AMP, made the news in 2023 for consolidating 12 software tools into just one platform.
Trends in workplace laws
In response to changes in the global workplace, governments all around the world are introducing new laws.
This section explores some of the most important legislation.
24. Pay transparency
Many US states are introducing pay transparency laws where employers have to disclose salary bands in job adverts.
75% of businesses say the practice helps them attract top-tier candidates.
Now more data is available than ever before, it’s easier to benchmark salaries to set fair yet competitive compensation.
Some major organizations are jumping on the trend. The Washington Post reports that IBM and American Express are disclosing salary ranges whether or not it’s mandated by state law.
25. Clean slates
The Clean Slate Initiative is behind a movement to wipe people’s records clean if they haven’t engaged in criminal activities within a set period of time.
So far 12 states have met the organization’s requirements. Half of offenders report struggling to find work with a criminal record.
Clean Slate bills are an opportunity to give them a second chance and open up the employment market to more skilled workers.
Some companies have already developed recruitment schemes for offenders.
British supermarket, Tesco, notably hired prisoners on day release.
26. Ban on non-competes
Research back in 2022 revealed that over half of private sector companies had non-compete clauses written into their contracts.
However, all that’s set to change with the introduction of non-compete bans.
Five US states have introduced them so far including California, Colorado, and Minnesota.
Unrestricted by noncompetes, employees will have more freedom to switch between companies.
2024 may see workplaces become even more fluid as team members come and go.
Expert Insight on Workplace Trends
“The workplace will be full of uncertainty in 2024. Globally, 2023 was a tough year for businesses with stagnant economic growth and I don’t think this will change.
In previous years, I would say the majority of companies were committing to project plans for the following 12 to 18 months. However, most businesses I speak with now are focusing on three-month sprints due to the level of uncertainty. They don’t want to commit to long-term budget spending.”Matt Collingwood, managing director at Viqu
As the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic and Great Resignation, workplaces are becoming less reactive and more proactive with their strategies.
We can look forward to policies based more directly on employee and business needs.
There are still some hurdles to clear as companies find what works best for them in a remote-first world.
However, the workplace of 2024 generally looks to be a more flexible, accessible, and collaborative space.