Every year, research organizations publish massive reports predicting workplace trends so leaders can get ahead of the curve. While staying aware of global patterns is crucial, workplace leaders know the trends they will adopt often depend more on regional needs and expectations.
So how do workplace trends break down across a few key markets in the western world? Here are six of the biggest trends in Canada, Europe and the US for 2019 and beyond.
Workplace Trends in Canada
After a long-standing talent gap, the Canadian workforce is becoming more diverse. And to attract a wide range of new employees, organizations are also placing more emphasis on workplace design.
Here are a few broad trends impacting workplaces in Canada.
A Greater Push To Attract Global Talent
A significant percentage of Canadian businesses are reporting a shortage of skilled workers across multiple industries, which has driven lawmakers to develop a new solution. The Global Talent Stream allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers through a more streamlined immigration program. This way, companies can attract highly skilled professionals to help close the nation’s talent gap.
That means your organization may need to take a closer look at its hiring and onboarding process to make new employees feel more welcome.
Rising Importance of a Modern Workplace Design
The Canadian workforce is also putting pressure on employers to improve the working environment with better technology and more access to wellness and flexibility. Nearly half of Canadians consider the look and feel of a workplace as a major factor when choosing an employer, according to a 2018 study by Staples. And 22 percent of Canadians would even consider quitting if their workplace design became too dated.
What constitutes a modern office design may vary somewhat from one country to the next, but some things are universal. For instance, most everyone wants access to natural light, quiet spaces to work and areas where they can collaborate with employees.
Workplace Trends in Europe
An agile work environment means giving employees more choices in how, when and where they work. Although workplaces around the world are embracing this idea in 2019 and beyond, European workplaces are actually legislating it. They’re also adopting stricter data protection policies.
A new French labor law, which took effect in January 2017, requires organizations with 50 or more employees to regulate email usage and develop out-of-office email guidelines. Policymakers created the legislation to curb “undeclared labor,” or time employees were forced to work outside of traditional work hours. Additionally, policymakers in the Netherlands have proposed a similar law, which would make opting not to respond to after-hours email, phone calls or other work messages a legal right.
Greater Data Protection
Employers across the EU and beyond are still feeling the ripple effects of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in spring 2018. Although much of the law focuses on consumer data (and also impacts any organization with consumers in Europe), European employers are also responsible for protecting employee information. The increasing need to protect data can impact everything from HR processes to the workplace technology companies implement.
Workplace Trends in the US
Although much of the American media’s focus has been on the rise of Millennials in the workplace, the US workplace is actually becoming older. It’s also becoming more geographically dispersed and less confined to physical offices.
More Generational Diversity
As the chart below shows, the percentage of employees over 55 has grown significantly over the past 25 years, and it will continue to increase in the next five years.
In its analysis of these figures, Deloitte notes we can expect to see a 13 percent decrease in the number of employees ages 16 to 24 (known as Generation Z) as more people continue their education longer. We will also see an 85 percent increase in the number of employees who are 75 and older.
These demographic changes mean workplace leaders need to consider how well they accommodate the needs of each generation. For instance, each generation has different experiences and preferences for using technology in the workplace.
Rise of the Gig Economy
While the gig economy is a global workplace trend, it’s growing especially fast in the United States. Freelancers now represent more than a third of the US working population, and experts predict this number could grow to 50 percent by 2027, according to Morgan Stanley.
The growing US gig economy is mostly driven by improvements in communication technology, the rise of coworking spaces and the need for a more diverse talent pool. As work becomes more technologically advanced, there is a greater demand for specialized skills, but it’s not always cost-effective to hire someone full-time. Employers in the US and around the world need to consider how they can best leverage consultants and independent contractors while making them feel welcome in their workplace.
These workplace trends offer a glimpse at what many global organizations are already experiencing, as well as what’s to come. But there are many other disruptive forces entering workplaces today, from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to artificial intelligence. And there are some things even the best analysts haven’t yet anticipated.
No matter where your organization does business, the best way to prepare for the future is to create an agile work environment that can adapt quickly.