It's been a year of too many natural disasters, and unnatural human atrocities and revelations. Big trends are getting bigger, while others are slowing down. How will all of this affect the workplace of 2018?

Read on dear reader for 2018 workplace predictions.

1. Women's voices get HEARD.

Everyone is sickened by the sexual harassment revelations pouring forth from all corners of conference rooms around America. In an undeniably watershed moment; while tears are shed men are finally being taken out behind the woodshed.

Accountability has arrived.

More than a reckoning, it's a movement. Time magazine has named "The Silence Breakers" (women who have bravely spoken up) their person of the year

This conviction will successfully begin spilling over into the workplace in long overdue ways. Women (and dare I say enlightened men) will renew their assault on the infuriating glass ceiling, pay inequality, the all-white male Executive Teams, and even mansplaining.

#ThisToo

Maybe you say I'm naïve--that such a breadth of long-ingrained issues won't all begin to course correct at once, or even anytime soon.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

2. Empathy surges.

I don't have to remind you of the horrifying realities of 2017. The entire year has been like a series of body blows.

The counter-punch is love and empathy. And the 2018 workplace will fight back with an outburst of it. 

It's what we humans do.

After the events of September 11, 2001, the phenomenon of reexamining the role that work plays in one's life, and how it contributes (or not) to our desire to express our best, most compassionate self, was widespread.

Soon after that day, reports of widespread kindness and feelings of empathy in the workplace surged. Stories surfaced of people reshaping their careers altogether to enter fields more inherently fused with purpose and compassion. For example, research shows that teaching applications skyrocketed around the United States, increasing by as much as 50 percent.

The level of heartbreak in 2017 will lead to some heart mending in 2018.

3. Side hustle goes corporate.

The side hustle (moonlighting your passion to boost fulfillment and income) is now very much a thing.

The difference for 2018 is that Corporate America will show signs of getting on board. One Fortune 500 company I interviewed is about to announce a "Pursue Your Side Passion" initiative, aimed at encouraging employees to express their creative side and to keep learning via their own company-financed passion projects. 

Even if the passion project has zippo to do with selling more widgets for the employer. 

Some would argue Silicon Valley companies have been doing this for years by allotting 15 percent of a persons time to work on side projects.

My point is whether Corporate America likes it or not, expressing yourself in between the cracks is now a thing and companies that crack how to nurture it will win the talent wars.

4. Working from home and "smart offices" split the difference.

The trend of telecommuting was progressing unimpeded before a more recent string of lash back. That said, the facts don't lie:

  • 50 percent of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and 20-25 percent of the workforce works remotely at some frequency.
  • 80 to 90 percent say they'd like to work remotely at least part-time.
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are already revamping their space to embrace the reality that employees work remotely (as opposed to me who remotely works) and to address the fact that the average employee isn't at their desk 50-60 percent of the time.

Pair this with the equally interesting trend of exquisitely designed workspaces that encourage employee encounters, like the marvel that is the new Apple HQ, and the truth will lie in the middle.

Forward-thinking companies will split the difference, creating "desirable when you're there" centrally located workspaces while still empowering employees to work remotely.

5. Meaning will hit the workplace agenda.

Think of this as an offshoot of the empathy surge. With research showing employee engagement still being horrifically low, and spurred by the needs of millennials, more and more leaders will understand the power of creating meaning for their employees (further spurred on by the brutality of the past year).

Leaders will begin to understand that it's not perks, pay, or promotions that sustain employee motivation over the long haul--it's meaning. Meaning made by imbuing a workplace with purpose, by enabling learning and growth, granting autonomy and providing a meaningful vision. 

It's already happening. Read any "Top Places to Work" report and the upper crust all have underpinnings of a meaning-rich culture. 

So says me, these prophecies will dominate 2018. And given the nature of each, how about we make them self-fulfilling prophecies?

 

Published on: Dec 12, 2017
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