— The PLACEmaking blog
PLACEmaking's workplace predictions for 2023
AuthorAlison White and Fintan Burke
DateJanuary 31, 2023
Reflecting on the post COVID-19 significant ways of working changes experienced in 2022 informs how PLACEmaking predict what further development will emerge in these next months of 2023.
Predictions by others have focused on the take up of hybrid ways of working with some questioning its legitimacy and suggesting we will see a rapid return to office based working.
We think hybrid working is here to stay although the simplistic emphasis on home-based working as the single alternative to commuting to the office will be replaced by more creative solutions.
We want to focus our predictions on the broader topics that are key to enabling and further embedding hybrid ways of working.
It’s too simplistic to say that investment in the technologies we have become dependant on will increase. Better to acknowledge that the balance of investment will shift significantly in 2023 from property related capital and revenue to greater emphasis on digital investment. However, in order to reap the benefits of that shift there needs to be a step change in how we develop workforce digital skills on one hand and the make-up of the technology provider products and services to ensure it is more accessible and performs better for the wider constituents of our workforce. Technology products and services must be aligned to business system development and more ‘end’ customer focused if we are to ensure all generations are skilled enough, are confident enough and are enabled enough to both function and keep pace with future technology development and change.
Homes & Housing
The term ‘social housing’ is synonymous with affordable homes provided by councils or housing associations. We predict the emergence of the new form of social based housing driven by the need for more homes especially for younger people but also by the growth of hybrid working. We have been predicting the shift to quirky workplaces that are more local and community based and the rejection of the glass, steel and concrete business district for some time and we now predict that homes integrating with workplaces, studios, retail and leisure reflecting the ‘15 minute’ local model will challenge many outdated town planning assumptions of defined zoning. We predict new models of home ownership will emerge which will encourage home and work investment solutions based on a flexible ‘occupy what you need and when you need it’ long term community based investment co-operatives to supplement personal mortgages. We think work will be more social based with boundaries associated with employer definitions reduced, digital connectivity increased and the sharing of the cost to provide and access to facilities and resources becoming more common.
Changes in ways of working including adoption of hybrid working has resulted in many employers recognising that the traditional 9-5 office is no longer relevant. Whilst some are keen to simply cancel property related costs and impose home working, others are recognising that its not that simple and that there is still a role for ‘the office’ although it’s a fundamentally different role to be realised in a number of different ways. In some instances it may be just a smaller place, a recognisable branded building redesigned to operate more for planned ‘connectivity’ activities. In other instances it may be a shared place where more than one organisation invests in facilities that they use on a more flexible basis that is temporarily branded to identify their use. In other instances it could be a pop-up solution where instead of employees travelling to an established centre, the centre travels to them setting up in a temporary location for specific events. Whilst such options have always been available in specific sectors, these will be explored by organisations who previously assumed an office HQ was essential to their way of operating and their brand during 2023 and new markets, solutions and service providers will emerge.
With greater focus on embedded carbon in existing buildings there is recognition that we need to value the building we already have, reduce demolition and only build new when we absolutely have to. In 2023 we will start to think differently about our towns and cities focusing on our built environment through a different lens. The focus will be increasingly on smaller scale, community influenced multi-use solutions with the role of existing buildings being a key consideration in forming a long term plan for how we want to live and work. Participation in shaping our local environment emerged during the COVID enforced work from home period with more of us connecting with our immediate neighbourhoods and we predict that with ever greater environmental awareness communities will want to directly influence and make creative use of their local built environment.
Whilst some people still prefer to go to an office to work many others developed different patterns of working during the COVID lockdowns and wish to continue to explore alternative solutions and invest in a better work/life balance. Traditional methods of management by presenteeism were clearly challenged during the enforced home working periods and we learned new management styles and skills. What has emerged for many is a desire for a more flexible relationship between employer and employee and that has demanded a more nuanced approach to contracts and agreements. Good employers are now more aware that their relationship with their employee is impacted not just be what happens during work hours but the complexities of peoples lives in general. We predict that 2023 will see the development of more personalised contractual agreements in place of rigid one size fits all solutions allowing more open team based discussion about the balance of collective efforts and support for shared responsibilities and care.
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