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The changing workplace

What are the key trends businesses will need to take note of in 2022? We asked the experts for their predictions 

THE WORKPLACE 

Office culture 

Paul Clark, Senior Vice President EMEA, Poly 

RIP 9-5. Long live ‘anytime’ working 

Like a genie that has been released from the bottle, the workers who relished the perks of hybrid and flexible working have no desire to return to corporate life full-time. According to recent research by Poly, 80% of employees in EMEA prefer to spend some days working from home. They want flexibility, and with the economy picking up and the ‘great resignation’ underway they have more power to choose how and where they should work. 

People want work-life balance with the flexibility to visit their dentist, attend a school play or swap their working days around to be able to meet up with an old friend who’s in town. Rather than being an asset that requires managing, employees have adopted a customer persona; they know what they want, why, when and how – and they’ll tell you. Ignore them and they’ll go elsewhere. 

Polymorphic offices supercharged by tools, not toys
Offices will no longer necessarily be physical spaces with defined, individual spots. Future workplaces will be ecosystems of spaces and rooms that match the working habits or needs of different personae. People will no longer go into the office because they must, but because they want specific, person- to-person interaction. This will lead to significant changes in architecture, real estate, room design and investment in collaboration devices and technologies in future office buildings, as all these disciplines collide to provide the very best work experiences. 

Organisations that fail to support a flexible workplace in 2022 will struggle to build a collaborative culture. During the pandemic, shrinking networks affected innovation and creativity. Informal chats or unscheduled meetups no longer happened, yet collaborative moments like these contribute to knowledge sharing and problem-solving. Collaboration is required for a happy workforce, with the link between employee wellbeing and business performance well documented. 

Equality: the new imperative 

During the pandemic, it was all about business continuity, but companies will need to adopt a people-first philosophy, based on choice. Choice is a great leveller and a catalyst for easy, meaningful and productive collaboration, enabling all workers to engage and perform at their very best. That approach presents a great opportunity for HR, IT, facilities management and the wider business to be more attuned to what employees want from their experience of work. Recent Stanford University research shows that over 40% of workers would actively look elsewhere if their employer failed to offer hybrid working. 

The main challenge of flexible, hybrid working is creating equity for all. Clarity and quality of image and sound are essential to better collaboration between colleagues. No matter where people choose (or have) to work– their car, a meeting room or home – they will expect to be supported by devices and technologies that guarantee equal inclusivity. Access to reliable communications is key to ensuring people receive the same information, at the same time to avoid any inadvertent bias. www.Poly.com 

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Christal Bemont_

Christal Bemont, CEO, Talend 

Corporate culture will be lost if businesses don’t create real-life, shared experiences
When employees are distributed and the corporate office is no longer at the centre, it becomes critical to create in-person shared experiences. Corporate culture thrives through shared experiences and, no matter how much our industry tries, technology isn’t  going to replace human connection. Companies cannot rely completely on digital communications to replicate human connections, but instead must actively enable real-life connections, for example by extending in-person onboard sessions to a month or holding micro-regional events near where employees live. Shared in-person experiences must anchor and lead corporate planning rather than being an afterthought as, through them, come trust, bonding and empathy, all of which contribute to corporate culture. www.talend.com 

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Chris Baker, Managing Director EMEA, Anaplan 

Soft skills will be critical for leadership
In evaluating company leaders, soft skills have often been side-lined or considered secondary, but as we enter the third year of the pandemic, they will take centre stage in the war for talent. Transparency, trust, inclusivity and collaboration will be critical to establish and maintain a strong company culture in an environment where workers may not be able to meet in person or interact face to face with colleagues, managers and company leaders. 

Employees are checking their own core values against those of their employer, and will increasingly make culture the number one criterion when deciding where to take their careers. Leaders must live and breathe their culture and ensure that that culture aligns with the wants and needs of their employees, not just their bottom line. The onus will be on leaders and people managers to ensure that employees feel heard, are fulfilled and are given the tools and encouragement to bring their best selves to work every day. www.Anaplan.com 

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Jason Lee

TECHNOLOGY 

Cyber-security 

Jason Lee, CISO, Zoom 

More companies to adopt the
Zero Trust security model
Conversations around protecting the hybrid workforce from risk will lead security professionals to adopt modern tools and technologies, like multi-factor authentication and the Zero Trust approach to security. I believe companies need these tools to make sure their employees can get work done as safely as possible wherever they are – commuting, travelling or working from home – and ensure that all of their endpoints are secured with continual checks in place. 

More public companies to have cybersecurity committees on boards One of the most impactful things we have done at Zoom this year is to institute a three-person committee on our board dedicated to cybersecurity matters. Having security industry experience at this level is incredibly valuable, as it allows us readily to address concerns and issues in industry shorthand. While this approach is still relatively new, it has been incredibly beneficial, and I wish we had done it sooner. I’ve heard peers express strong interest in recreating this approach at their own companies, which leads me to expect this will be a priority for organisations in the new year. Zoom.us 

Digital transformation 

Chris Baker, Managing Director EMEA, Anaplan

Chris Baker

UK businesses will move from knee-jerk digital change to true transformation
Early on in the pandemic, a lot of companies put significant transformation projects on hold, and many still haven’t picked those projects back up. Pandemic-driven IT investments largely focused on digital sprints; programmes that could be quickly set up to enable remote working, for instance, or vanity projects that drove surface level change at best. However, as we’ve seen over the past two years, business success requires being able to innovate quickly, bringing new ideas to the market ahead of your competition and navigating volatility with little disruption whilst maintaining employee productivity. 

Gartner forecast IT spending to grow 9% this year (2021), but for most companies, even that won’t be enough to compete or retain top talent. Short-term digital programmes are not enough to plug this gap and larger transformation projects need to be re-evaluated and re-prioritised so that businesses can compete strategically, perform efficiently and be resilient for the future. This means transitioning from a defensive approach (digital band-aids) to an offensive one, with full blown transformation projects aimed at long-term performance and growth. www.Anaplan.com 

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Kaushalya Somasundaram

Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of UK Payments Partnerships & Industry Relations, Square 

Businesses of all sizes to benefit from tech adoption
When the world went online during the pandemic, technology helped businesses survive. In 2022, businesses will take their investment in tech to the next level, automating more processes to save time and improve the customer experience. For example, 71% of retailers are looking to inventory management technology to improve their supply chain efficiency, while 41% plan to invest in technology to monitor real-time store inventories. In catering, 41% of businesses plan to invest in kitchen automation tech. Digital transformation will no longer be the purlieu of large enterprises but will extend to businesses of all sizes across all industries. 

www.squareup.com

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Stacy Hayes_

Data backup and DR 

Stacy Hayes, Managing Director, Assured Data Protection 

Time to call in the professionals 

The changing nature, sophistication and intensity of cyber attacks are causing a significant change in the mentality of IT Managers. Accelerated by remote work and cloud migration, cybercriminals  are targeting critical data, crippling IT infrastructure and holding businesses hostage. With stakes higher than ever, security and data protection operations teams face significant challenges that often can’t be handled in-house, so next year will see an increase in the outsourcing of DR and security to MSPs. 

IT Managers are looking for a more diverse set of solutions that will protect themselves and outsource the risk and liability that they are now exposed to due to the lack of cyber insurance available to them. It used to be cheaper to build your own backup, DR and security infrastructure and manage it yourself because insurance premiums were cheaper than the product or service. Now, the outsourced service is half the new insurance bill and IT teams are seeing a more secure and efficient set up with MSPs where their staff can focus on more mission-critical initiatives or strategic projects to improve the business. https://assured-dp.com 

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Ana Pinczuk

The cloud 

Ana Pinczuk, Chief Development Officer, Anaplan 

The rise of the ‘glocal’ business 

As businesses work to become more resilient and competitive in 2022, they must evaluate their ability to accommodate local demands and conditions (e.g. availability of talent or goods) with global dependencies (e.g. supply chain constraints), so they can meet the needs of customers everywhere. 

The cloud will spearhead this transition and help businesses gain a deeper understanding of company and customer needs and behaviours across geographies, while still recognising local nuance and data residency requirements. From there, businesses can leverage new data sets and sources in the cloud to drive strategic decisions that support a more ‘glocal’ organisation. 

With more capacity and a secure global infrastructure that is flexible by nature, UK-based businesses with a global presence can leverage the cloud to simplify operations and seamlessly connect their data, people and processes with market and customer insights around the world. 

Cloud adoption is critical for businesses that want to scale to new markets both locally and globally, appeal to a global customer base, or operate with agility despite having a dispersed workforce. Moving operations to the likes of AWS and Google Cloud will become a requirement for business success in 2022 and the benefits of this cloud adoption will be truly realised through the enablement of glocal resilience. 

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Smart buildings 

William Cowell de Gruchy, CEO, Infogrid 

2022 will be the year of a smart building revolution
In today’s world, businesses are more environmentally aware than ever, with many pledging to limit their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. A great place to start is right in their own workplace. Space and hot water heating accounts for 21% of the energy used in the UK. Further to this, 19% of the UK’s Greenhouse Gases come from heating the places in which we live and work, and 10% of the UK’s electricity consumption comes from air conditioning units. Businesses can make a big reduction in their CO2 emissions in 2022 by developing a better understanding of how they use HVAC systems through smart building technology that uses the latest Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to collect data on systems and office environments, enabling them to optimise efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. While moving to a new, more efficient building might seem like a good idea, building construction is incredibly energy-intensive and produces high levels of carbon emissions. Smart building technology has an immediate impact and can keep existing buildings viable for much longer. The workplace environment has been a data blind- spot; 2022 will see that change as more organisations look to improve building efficiency.
www.infogrid.io 

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SOCIETY 

CSR 

Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of UK Payments Partnerships & Industry Relations, Square 

2022 will be the year of the socially conscious business
Last year saw an outpouring of support for local charities, community initiatives and small businesses as people came together to help one another, and this will continue in 2022. In a recent study of ours, 91% of restaurants said they plan to continue local community initiatives and 43% of consumers said they would like to see businesses donate food or supplies to community organisations and charities. Providing support to local communities can help businesses attract more loyal customers, especially amongst millennials and Gen Z, and this will drive the growth of socially conscious businesses. www.squareup.com 

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Darren Hockley

HUMAN RESOURCES 

Employee recruitment and wellbeing 

Darren Hockley, Managing Director, DeltaNet International 

Competition for talent 

In 2022, we’ll continue to see a battle for talent. Covid-19 and Brexit have created a perfect storm, with masses of skilled and non-skilled non-UK nationals leaving the UK. Organisations that don’t recognise the need for rapid change to support remote and hybrid working will experience significant skills gaps. The need to value and develop your people has never been more crucial, and organisations that put people first will win in the war for talent. Treating employees with the respect they deserve and empowering them to thrive in the environment that suits them best will be pivotal to securing and retaining the best talent. 

Organisations will continue to offer home and hybrid working policies, but they need to play catchup to ensure they still offer supportive and safe workplaces for hybrid, remote and home workers. Compliance will cut across many areas, including display screen equipment (DSE), ergonomics, information security, data protection, collaboration, health and wellbeing. When lockdowns were first imposed in 2020, organisations could have been forgiven for taking time to adapt and adjust. But we are well beyond the honeymoon period now. 

The year ahead will be more challenging than 2021 for mental health and wellbeing. We often see a delayed response to stressful situations and that, combined with more change and uncertainty and the impact of the skills gap, which will force fewer employees to do more, mean more people are likely to suffer. Organisations need to do more to help their employees through these difficult times, through effective management and support mechanisms. Investing in employee mental health and wellbeing will be crucial, not just for organisations and team management, but for talent attraction and retention. www.delta-net.com 

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