Looking back on 2021 and 2020 who could have predicted COVID-19 and the impact it would have on all our lives

So perhaps I’m setting myself up for failure in predicting what will happen over the coming year. However, we can already see several megatrends playing out which are likely to impact the way our workplaces, buildings and estates will need to adapt and change in 2022. I’ve set out my thoughts below

Megatrend No 1 Covid secure working

COVID will not disappear, but it is likely to retreat into the background over the coming months and years as our vaccinations take hold and our populations secure immunity.  This means we will need to maintain COVID secure workplaces for the longer term and likely to see hybrid and remote working staying with us.  We are also likely to see more investment in regional locations as organisations decentralise their corporate HQ’s and operations. Excess office buildings will need to be repurposed by tenants and landlords alike, interesting reuses will start to appear in 2022. COVID is here to stay, and we need to integrate managing the implications into the way we manage our real estate in the long term.

Megatrend No 2 Employee health and wellbeing

COVID has helped accelerate our second megatrend, a demand for more visibility and investment in employee physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace. Our buildings shape our experience and impact our health, wellbeing, and performance. I predict that there will be a growing emphasis from employees, investors, and customers in the way in which organisations are supporting and enriching their employee wellbeing.  All organisations are likely to be held more to account in 2022 for their actions, or lack of them in these areas.

Megatrend No 3 The move to net zero carbon

We have seen a growing trend to invest more resource into decarbonising our organisations. This has been driven by Government since 2008, with the introduction of the Climate Change Act, which has accelerated over the last few years with the cause being taken up by organisation employees and customers.  Regrettably, we predict that 2022 will bring more climate disasters, which will in turn accelerate the trend. In 2022, we will see Government, employees and customers demand more and faster action from our organisation to decarbonise and those who do not take this seriously will start their decline.

Megatrend No 4 The fight for talent

Like most rich economies the UK working population is shrinking due a reduction in birth rate. In 2022 we’ll see this trend blend with a bounce back from COVID and raise in demand for talent.  This will reduce the pool of available talent and accelerate the fight to acquire and retain employees.  It’ll be harder for all of us to attract sought after employees to join our organisations. In addition to having to provide meaningful, purposeful work, employees will expect to work with great colleagues in better workplaces. I predict that providing great employee experiences will become even more important for us all in 2022.

Megatrend No 5 The use of technology

Trends such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the use of improved computing power have long been predicted to disrupt the way we manage our buildings. To date these have typically been whizzy technology looking for real world solutions. We predict that in 2022 we’ll see the use to these technologies cross over to the mainstream and provide real world benefits giving Directors of real estate and their teams the insight and tools to improve the performance of their estate.  

Personally, I’m very excited about the year ahead.  After what will undoubtably be a tough winter, due to the combination of flu and COVID, I think in early 2022 we’ll emerge into a brighter world with COVID moving into the background. I also think the above megatrends will give all of us who design and manage workplaces, buildings, and estates the opportunity to create even better working environments for our people and customers. Life is too short to work in a poor working environment!

John O’Brien, Founder and MD

If you would like to learn more about our predictions for 2022 then join our webinar “The Megatrends that will impact your workplaces, buildings and estates in 2022” on Thursday 28th October. Together with a panel we will share with you: 

  • What to prepare for
  • How to get ahead of the curve
  • Ways to make your real estate work better and harder in 2022. 

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