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The backstory: The past few years have seen a major shift in how we work, and it's clear that the traditional office as we knew it pre-COVID is a thing of the past. But as the world was transitioning, there was a heap of chatter over whether companies would make staff eventually return to the office, whether hybrid was the way to go, whether remote working was here to stay, whether one was better than the other for productivity … we heard it all. But, as we move into 2023, there are a few predictions for how the workplace will evolve.
The development: First, we can expect a shift in how we think about remote work. In the past, some execs looked down on workers who weren't physically present in the office, a phenomenon known as "flex-shaming." With new legislation around the world supporting more flexible work arrangements, over a billion people are already affected by legal changes that favor remote or hybrid workers.
Second, we'll see a focus on the well-being of hybrid workers. While hybrid work can have its challenges, like feelings of social isolation and paying less attention to health and well-being, the key is to find solutions that fit each individual workplace. Working in a hybrid way may involve testing out changes for a few months or even a year until things settle and teams find their own groove.
Finally, future workplaces will prioritize social interaction. Even as more people opt for hybrid work, there is still a need to interact with others in person. Many offices are now looking to become more social, with events and experiences designed to bring teams and staff together and create a sense of community. This trend is expected to continue as people seek a bigger and better reason to come into the office beyond just access to technology.
"I'm a big believer in the office, but I'm also a big believer in wherever somebody's working, it's got to be the right environment for them," said Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, on Julia Hobsbawm's podcast "Nowhere Office."
"And how do you ensure that your culture is reinforced? Well, you start from the top and serve food to the people … and of course, dessert must be for free!" said Frauke von Polier, Chief People Officer of Viessmann, on LinkedIn, discussing how to reinforce the office environment for employees.
"I wanted to work in a space where I was working closely with a team, where it still had kind of that rapid energy that you have in banking, but super-focused on a user and a problem space," said Chandra Sahu, an ex-employee in investment banking who quit her job last year hoping to find something more flexible, to CNBC.