The Future of Work in 2021: Our Top 10 Predictions

Jan 5 2021

VergeSense has been tracking changes in the workplace for years, not only through our occupancy sensors covering 40 million square feet of office space but through conversations with industry leaders. The events of 2020 accelerated the evolution of the office in ways that have left employers now feeling the pressure to transform their office experience.

We’ve been on the frontlines of this workplace transformation, partnering with our customers to enable their success in delivering confidence to their newly hybrid workforces. Through empowering our customers with the data they need to make smart workplace design decisions, we’ve compiled our top 10 predictions for the future of work. 

1. Office Spaces Will Look More Like Coworking Spaces 

More than ever, workplace experience managers will focus on designing purposeful spaces that employees are drawn to for meaningful experiences and productive work. This will not only be reflected in inviting lobbies and large outdoor spaces, but in open seating areas, bookable desks, and breakout rooms designed to spark collaboration. The office will remain a critical part of the employee experience.

2. Knowledge Workers Will Be Given the Freedom To Work Anywhere They Want  

2020 accelerated the steadily growing flex working and “work anywhere” trend. Even as office space is being reinvented to attract employees and focus on activity areas, we expect that 2021 will see more employers offering more options and providing more resources for employees to work outside the main office. If an employee will find it most productive on any given day to work from home, the office, a coworking space, a hotel room or anywhere else, they’ll be free to do so — and real estate leaders will take this into account, including more coworking spaces in their real estate portfolios

3. New Titles Like ‘Head of Employee Experience’ or ‘Workplace Experience Manager’ Will Become Critical

These new roles are critical cross-departmental roles that work closely with HR, real estate, facilities, design & construction, legal, and the C-suite to ensure that the physical workplace meets company objectives and fosters employee productivity. The tools and technologies mentioned above will most likely be championed by these new leaders to encourage smart decision-making. 

4. The New Top Worry for CEOs Will Become “How Can We Build the Most Socially Connected Hybrid Team on the Planet?”

Connected company cultures have been a priority for employers for decades. Now, however, it’s become an imperative. The studies being done today will tell us much more about the impact of large populations of hybrid workers and potentially disengaged workforces, along with techniques to develop the same kinds of interpersonal connections felt in traditional office spaces. 

5. Employees Will Expect Personalized Workplace Experiences Fueled by Technology

As employers invest in new technologies to optimize their space design and attract talent, this will naturally involve new employee-facing smart technology. These solutions will include ways to book a spot in the office, check the temperature, check the air quality, check who else is in the office, check what is the expected noise level, check the “activities” offered in the office, and more all from one centralized app or source. 

6. Employers Will Significantly Increase Investment in Employee Home Office Equipment

The goal for any employer is to ensure employees can reach maximum productivity and potential on any given day. Any time spent out of the office shouldn’t impact this goal — as such, investing in home office equipment and the equivalent of “office perks” for remote employees (food, wellness, etc) will become a standard in 2021. 

7. Office Wellness Will Become a Priority

More than ever, employees will be concerned with the cleanliness of office spaces and the quality of the air. Employers will be looking for technology solutions to enable a proactive approach to continually improve air quality. “Smart” plants to monitor the indoor air quality and clean the air when needed will also gain popularity in offices and indoor workplaces.

8. Companies Will Use Various Tools To Measure the Attractiveness of Their Spaces

All the changes and priorities mentioned above will be tied to increasing the appeal of the office. And as with any change, it’s best implemented alongside tools to test and iterate frequently. These will emerge as a regular part of the workplace manager’s toolkit. VergeSense data derived through our occupancy sensors, for example, can measure the popularity of certain spaces to inform workplace design decisions. 

9. Employee Engagement Will Be Measured During In-Person Events and Virtual Meetings

In many ways, teams have become more connected than ever as businesses have adopted more tools to ensure that employees can keep in touch with key stakeholders. To ensure these tools are successful, and maintain expected levels of productivity across all places employees are working, engagement and output will be measured in new ways. 

10. The Fight for Talent Will Be Even Greater

There are fewer geographic restrictions on talent than ever. A desirable employee may be fielding offers from companies in California, New York, and England simultaneously — all while working out of Texas. As such, talent, authentic leadership, company’s mission, leaders’ values, inclusion and diversity will be among the things employees will care the most about when choosing a position.

How You Can Act on This Today

Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and implement these changes in your workplace. If your business is a leader in flexible work spaces, attractive offices, employee engagement, and remote amenities, you’ll find yourself maintaining higher levels of productivity than your competitors and attracting talent from around the world. 

If you’re unsure of where to begin, VergeSense can empower you with actionable data on how to adapt your office for the new way of working. Get a demo to introduce this into your workplace.