IWG, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace, including brands such as Regus and Spaces, has revealed the top ten trends that are set to shape global working in 2024.
Hybrid working – a phenomenon empowered by significant advances in technology – is an inescapable megatrend that’s changing lives, allowing many millions of people around the world to work how and where they feel most fulfilled and most productive. And it’s a shift that’s set to continue ongoing academic research by Stanford University and other leading institutes has predicted that around a third or more white-collar workers will continue to work in a hybrid way in the long term.
From the emergence of a new C-suite member, the Chief Hybrid Officer, to the increasing role of AI in the workplace, IWG’s latest white paper will explores some of the biggest trends set to transform the world of work in 2024 and beyond.
- Big business will turn to Chief Hybrid Officers
The widespread adoption of hybrid work has led to the emergence of a new C-suite role—the Chief Hybrid Officer. Companies such as Meta, Doist and GitLab have already hired their own, and we will see more companies appointing CHOs in 2024 to oversee and optimise the hybrid work environment. They will balance the needs of in-office and remote employees, ensuring productivity, and navigating logistical challenges effectively.
A new role, in addition to the Chief Hybrid Officer, that has also emerged is the ‘Office Synchronizer’, who is responsible for optimising office space and ensuring effective collaboration.
2. A Renewed Focus on Culture
In a hybrid working world, companies must find a balance between empowering employee flexibility and ensuring regular and adequate time for collaboration. This balance needs to ensure that, despite varied work settings, there is a cohesive framework encouraging open communication and a shared commitment to the company’s mission. Embracing hybrid working not only provides flexibility but also encourages a dynamic and inclusive culture, allowing diverse perspectives to thrive and contributing to enhanced innovation and employee satisfaction.
3. Greater Expectations of Employers
Innovative benefits packages will become mainstream and will be pivotal in the race for talent in 2024. Benefits such as fertility support, pet care and time off for caring responsibilities may become commonplace, as employers are forced to take a more holistic look at the needs of their hybrid workforce.
There will also be heightened expectations from employees that businesses provide benefits backages and company polices that support the wellbeing of their workforce. Whether it’s increased parental leave, progressive childcare policies or taking action to address burnout with appropriate mental health support, businesses will need to be more attuned to the evolving needs and demands of their workforce if they want to retain their best people.
4. Company Role in Childcare
As hybrid work continues to gain momentum, increased employer support for families will be a game-changer for parents seeking more balance between their professional and home life.
Businesses will increasingly have a role to play, recognising the challenge of childcare and providing support more for working parents is essential to maintain a diverse and skilled workforce. In fact, research from IWG highlighted how greater flexibility is allowing workers to spend more time with family and hobbies, with three in four (75%) hybrid workers using time previously spent commuting on more meaningful activities.
5. The Return of the Lunch Hour
With an increasing number of workers seeking a healthier work/life balance, the year ahead will witness a resurgence of lunch breaks dedicated to in-person interactions.
The flexibility of hybrid work will help more workers reclaim their lunch hour to grab food with co-workers and clients and rekindle in-person collaboration and relationships, in turn fostering a more positive workplace, creativity and camaraderie amongst hybrid working team members.
6. Making Space for Neurodiversity
Accommodating neurodivergent team members will be an important pillar of employer DE&I strategies in the near future. This shift is reflected in the evolving design of office spaces, which now takes into consideration the specific needs of neurodivergent workers including addressing issues such as noise and lighting, acknowledging the significant impact these factors can have on the well-being of these employees. As companies adapt for greater inclusivity, a proactive approach to inclusive design will ensure that workplaces are supportive and comfortable for all employees, improving productivity in the process.
7. Unretirement Becomes A Reality
Hybrid work has given more flexibility to older generations in particular, allowing them to stay in the workforce – or coming back from a previous exit for “un-retirement.” Bain and Company estimate that by 2030, around 150 million global jobs will shift to workers aged 55 and over. In 2024, this phenomenon will gather pace, with a growing number of experienced professionals from older generations embracing this concept and, for the first time in their careers, exploring the benefits of hybrid working, helping establish more diverse workforces and inter-generational collaboration.
8. Even Greener Ways of Working
Robust hybrid working policies are playing a pivotal role in cutting carbon.
In an era where sustainability is paramount, we are going to see businesses looking for more innovative ways to cut their carbon emissions in 2024. Businesses are increasingly looking for buildings with green leases, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and enhance their environmental performance. In 2024, we will see these leases go beyond energy efficiency, encompassing water conservation, waste reduction, and indoor air quality.
9. Hybrid work as the top employee benefit
The commercial benefits of hybrid to businesses, given the meaningful savings companies can make by adopting the working model, are clear. Stanford University’s Professor Nicholas Bloom has long talked about hybrid working being a win/win for both employers and employees, commenting that it’s a, “no brainer to increase profit”. And data supports this thinking; 81% of CFOs surveyed by IWG see hybrid working as a cost saver and more than two-thirds (67%) say their business will continue to work in the hybrid model, splitting time between the company’s headquarters, a local office/workspace and home in five years.
But that’s not all; hybrid working is becoming the most sought-after benefit for employees too, already impacting business’s ability to access and keep the best talent. IWG’s own research shows that almost three quarters of workers (72%) would only consider a job that offers the ability to work flexibly, while 71% would be unwilling to accept a position that involved a long commute.
10. Increasing Presence of AI
2024 will see a clear shift in adoption and usage of AI in everyday life, and companies who invest in helping their people understand how AI can be a benefit to hybrid working, will reap the rewards; preparing employees for unforeseen roles and technologies should become a priority for businesses, while helping them understand that using AI effectively can lessen time spend on administrative tasks, leaving more room for thinking and collaborating together.
Mark Dixon, Founder and CEO of IWG, comments: “The migration to hybrid is one of the most important forces at play in the world today as workers increasingly embrace the opportunity to work locally, bringing significant opportunities to the economies of local communities as well as creating a better work-life-balance for employees.
“Hybrid working is radically reshaping how we work. Businesses that embrace it will attract the best talent and get the most out of their workforces all while reducing their own bottom line. This pace of change will continue in 2024, with an increasing number of employees and businesses understanding the clear financial, cultural and sustainability benefits that flexible working models can bring”.