Ten workplace meta-trends for 2018 (really)

This is the time of year for giving – random, aimless advice, that is. Yes, its trendspotting time. Everywhere you look and everywhere you dare not look there will be futurists and soothsayers from small seaside towns telling you with excruciating confidence what will be happening next year. It may even prompt you not to bother showing up for 2018. At workessence we have taken all the amazing blog posts and sponsored research articles from 2017 and fed them into our advanced AI engine that looks and sounds remarkably like a cross-cut shredder to proudly bring you everything you will need to know about the year ahead.

  1. Increasing numbers of HR leaders – starting with those that run departments called People before those still called HR because they are all about people – will inherit responsibility for property until they have all inherited responsibility for property including those called HR and even some called Human Capital. This will leave proportionately numerous Property people kicking their heels and getting in the way of important transformation projects. This will result in ever-growing amounts of transactional HR work being ignored in favour of furniture tours, with talented people, over whom a war is being fought, not getting hired and James Dyson unable to fire anyone, leading to the CIPD establishing a Property Director Conversion Programme enabling all former Property leaders to re-train in HR until everyone has effectively swapped jobs. Former-HR Property leaders will start to understand that it’s not all about furniture tours. They will begin to struggle with balancing competing organisational demands, and realise why the design community liked dealing with them because they didn’t understand that it was OK to challenge what was being proposed until it was the best it could be. Former-Property HR leaders will understand that trying to be both business partners and look after employee needs is an almost impossible challenge and that you can’t get through a day without several cup-cakes. The design community will start to say how great it is when they work with Former Property HR leaders. Former-Property HR leaders will start to inherit responsibility for workplace projects. You can see where is going, can’t you?
  2. Co-living will be revealed as flat share. People won’t believe it.
  3. Millennials will grow up another year and their lack of difference from other generations will become all the more acute. The few remaining millennials who are not yet CEO of a business started in an actual incubator will get actual jobs in actual companies and will consider that it’s time to stop dressing and talking like a West Coast supremo. The CEOs will continue to talk and dress like West Coast supremos and use slightly comic fonts and address absolutely everyone as though they are giving a TED talk, including people at the bus stop. They will occasionally take the bus for effect and a timely Instagram post.
  4. A journalist will spend an afternoon in an open plan workplace, and not turn into a sociopathic extrovert. They will quietly tell their friends that it was okay. They won’t be believed.
  5. The War for Talent will become an actual war where prospective candidates will begin to gather together, and will scare the daylights out of recruiters who liked to use entirely-unnecessary 1980s type conflict metaphors until the recruiters sue for peace and are forced to accept unfavourable – almost scandalous – terms. Principally, they will promise never to place misleading adverts, to respond to prospective clients when they say they will, not to promise far more than can possibly be delivered and after building up candidate hopes not to offer them a desultory package and then not to leave them to their own devices and working on their own devices on Day One (their caps, it’s a big day) without anywhere to actually work in a team that thought they were arriving next week. Because work is something you do, not something people are expecting you to arrive to do.
  6. The filament lightbulb with its dangly cable and misplaced ceiling rose will be discovered to be the main cause of unusually rapid beard growth and the unexplained spouting of top-knots. The provision of wrap-around protective glasses will lead to a Rezillos revival. Not so bad, eh?
  7. The rise of AI will accelerate exponentially with robots designed with all the limitations of the human form displacing real humans from every single job, everywhere. The zealous over-production of robots by other robots will lead to increasing amounts of human-tutored corner-cutting in design and manufacture which in turn will lead to massive variations in quality and a productivity paradox. It won’t actually be a paradox because we will know the cause but as we will have been displaced we will not be able to do anything about it and they will no longer listen to us. This will lead to an actual Robot War for Talent with lasers, flashing images and scenes that some viewers may find upsetting. Eventually robots will start to develop an irrational paranoia that humans will start taking their jobs and write untold amounts of anxious bloggage until they do, everywhere.
  8. Apple will fill in the hole.
  9. The rise of co-working – or flexible space – will mature to the extent that large corporates will increasingly take leases on whole buildings instead of sharing them with PR’s and technology recruiters. Tired of signing contracts every year they will start to commit to ten and fifteen-year leases in a bid for continuity. They will realise that the minuscule glass boxes and titchy wobbly desks are not actually very good and so will ask to do their own fit-out and buy their own furniture given that they have taken the whole building. They’ll ask for the annoying community manager to go somewhere else because there is no longer a community and will take out the beer tap as a cost-saving measure. They will rave about ‘space-as-a-service’ as the real estate revolution they had demanded for decades and feel very happy they made it happen.
  10. A freelancer somewhere will get paid ahead of time. Completely by mistake

Mission accomplished? Far from it. But the beat goes on.


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