The Work Culture Trends of 2020

Business trends are always changing and shifting. Gen Z is getting ready for the workplace and Douglas has curated a selection of work culture trends for 2020 to keep you informed.

The Work Culture Trends of 2020 banner

Millennials Become Managers

As older boomers head into retirement, millennials (1981 to 1996) are moving into management roles, starting families and buying homes. They differ from boomers and gen-Xers in big ways. Many are digital natives who grew up using computers and smartphones. They were the first generation to be given credit cards from the age of 18, according to PWC, and prefer “access over ownership,” choosing to stream music rather than own albums and preferring Uber and Airbnb over cars and holiday homes. Business models of the past simply don’t cut it with this group. Some big differences, according to CNBC’s Make It report, include:

> Millennial managers are nearly three times more likely to believe people should be responsible for keeping their own skills current and mastering new tools and developments within their industry. That differs from baby boomers of whom 90 per cent believe it’s up to the employer to reskill their workers, according to a survey by freelancing website Upwork and research firm Inavero.

> A Deloitte survey of 7,700 millennials found 64 per cent of those in senior positions relied on their own values and morals to guide decision-making at work. Goals such as meeting their company’s profit goals or target revenue ranked well below millennials’ concerns about the social impact of projects.

Annual performance reviews are over. Sixty per cent of millennials want to hear from their managers at least once a day, according to JB Training Solutions.

Generation Z Gets Workforce Ready

The next generation set to take over is genZ, whose oldest members are about 23 in 2020. This is a far bigger cohort than millennials. They expect a lot from their employers and have short attention spans. Having seamless, usable software is important, as 60 per cent of gen-Zers say they won’t use an app or website if it is too slow. They also prioritize the ability to access information and people instantly, and expect cross-functional teamwork.

Gen-Zers were raised to be curious; they want to be part of the solution and make a difference. Employers were caught out for the paradigm shift that millennials represented. The next decade of business will be dominated by employers who take the lessons learned from adapting to millennials and apply them to genZ. By engaging their curiosity, unique skills and tech-savvy minds, you can distinguish yourself as an employer of choice and create a real competitive advantage.

Flatter Organizations

Nowadays, business decisions often need to be made with velocity. Faster decision-making means organizations are increasingly seeing the need for flatter management structures in order to process information quickly to seize business opportunities.

Diversity Rules

With four generations −- boomers, genX, millennials and genZ − in the workforce, and gender and cultural diversity on the rise (the number of visible minorities in Victoria grew by 38 per cent between 2011 and 2016), smart businesses are welcoming a broader set of values and radically rethinking all of their internal interactions, especially those involving how to approach, deploy, develop and retain people when it comes to age, gender and race. This means looking deeply at your work culture and making a conscious decision to be open and inclusive.

Teamwork Gets a Tune-Up

Teams today need to work as cohesive units to meet the challenges and pace of business. “Think about the difference between a swim team and a soccer team,” says Gale Moutrey, vice president of workplace innovation and brand experience at Steelcase. “Swimmers stay in their own lane, but soccer players interact and transition constantly, relying on each other to win. Teams today need to do that, too — navigate a fast-paced flow, bouncing between team members, iterating and improving on each other’s ideas. Everyone is accountable to keep work moving forward.”

Free Agent Workforce

The gig economy is still going strong, which represents an opportunity for business owners with project-based or durational work. Instead of taking on the responsibility of hiring employees, businesses turn to free agents to get the job done without the overhead and need for more workspace.

Diversity Carries Through to Office Design

In the Mad Men heyday, private offices were standard. Then along came the big tech era and open-concept offices were suddenly on trend. But in 2020, the key to satisfying employee needs is the diverse-design workplace, with sociable, open-plan workspaces and communal tables, mixed with cozy, distraction-free corners and pods. Steelcase launched its Flex Collection in order to allow teams to create the kinds of spaces they need, as they need them, to better align people, culture and work processes. Bringing diverse design into modern office spaces allows teams to work with the maximum flexibility they need to be creative, collaborative and efficient.

Remotely Interesting

By 2020, remote work will be even more prevalent than it is now, thanks to cellphones, laptops, video-chat services and apps like Slack. According to a recent workforce survey commissioned by Staples, 40 per cent of workers list a remote work option as a “must have.” The same survey shows that currently only one-third of Canadians spend all of their working time in an office. This means employers who thought the trend might fade need to firm up their HR policies and practices regarding remote work.

Conscious Coworking

Coworking is nothing new, and with the gig economy on the rise that trend is expected to continue. But what is new is savvy coworking companies blending work and lifestyle solutions into one space. In Victoria, the newly relocated KWENCH calls itself a full-service work and culture club, offering everything from turnkey offices and shared coworking spaces to fitness classes, workshops and a collaborative art space.

This article is from the December/January 2020 issue of Douglas.