Happy New [Employee] Year! Workplace Trends to Watch for in 2017

If we’ve learned anything from the 2016 political climate, it’s that we cannot always count on predictions to accurately foretell the future. Still it would be foolhardy to ignore the collection of trends that is shaping the modern workplace. Indeed, the steady transformation of the contemporary workplace is perhaps one of the few things we CAN count on. The whiplash-inducing changeups in technology, growing millennial prevalence in the workforce and the powerful draw of an employee centered workspace are all contributing to the evolution of a compelling new picture of employment. With that, three hiring and workplace trends to look out for in 2017:

The Fluid Concept of Office

Generational concepts of a traditional office may differ, but nearly all can agree that that the concept of one shared office space where all employees gather for a 7, 8 or 9 hour workday and then make their way to home is irretrievably gone. Statistics from Forrester Research’s US Telecommuting Forecast indicate that 34 million Americans work from home, and the trend only continues to build. The concept of an actual workday is also far more fluid now that employees have the often implied permission to contact, sell, create, complete and manage at any and every hour. The benefit in exchange for this near constant attention to work is the freedom to conduct that job from wherever an employee is able, as long as goals are met.

The Evolving Role of HR

With a workforce that is more and more on the move and willing to move on, HR will find itself evolving to accommodate employees whose wants and needs have taken on new, dynamic directions. With a less traditional office set-up on the rise, so too comes the reimagination of fair and compelling compensation. Health care, transportation and education reimbursement, sabbatical leave and flextime are among the elements at play in the hiring and retention of quality candidates. Human Resource professionals will be required to keep their fingers on the pulse of the nuanced needs of their employees, requiring the development of a more nimble process in responding the collective employee voice.

Gig Economy

Over the past two decades, the “gig economy,” defined by employees operating as independent contractors in short term assignments, has evolved to the point that those jobs are expanding with much greater speed than traditional permanent/full time employment, as outlined in a study by a Brookings Institute study released in October 2016. The willingness (and eagerness) of so many to take on contract roles opens an opportunity for companies to pinpoint more specialized and short-term project needs, and hire for those positions on a short-term basis. The prospective benefits of hiring to address uniquely targeted needs on an ad hoc basis has not gone unnoticed. Neither has the benefit of mixing salaried employees with a revolving set of specialists who might inject fresh ideas and skill sets into the work atmospheres they inhabit. The anticipation of what 2017 holds is heightened now as prognostications pierce the collective desire the read the future. In the absence of practiced soothsayer, let’s say this: 2017 may well be the year of the human-centered employee experience.