By Georgina Fuller Run your business Top 10 workplace trends for 2017 13 Jan 2017 2016 was quite a shocking year for most of us with Brexit, Trump and the death of so many much-loved celebrities. So what does 2017 hold in store? On the work front at least, there are some exciting new trends ahead from ‘boomerang’ employees and workplace retreats to women-only workspaces. We take a look at the main ones. The decline of 9-5 2017 will likely mark the death of the 9-5 working day, says Ansel Liu, founding and managing director at Nomad. “With employees increasingly determining their own working hours and big-name companies like Netflix or LinkedIn encouraging employees to take as much time off as they want, the old-school 9-5 schedule is just that: old.” Liu says the concept of ‘clocking in’ may soon become obsolete too. “Employers are placing more and more trust in their employees to navigate their own, personalised working hours,” he notes. Increase in women-only co-working spaces We may also see a significant rise in female-only clubs and organisations in the UK, according to Liu. Such places already exist in the US and Australia but the UK is yet to follow suit. “The launch of The Wing in New York or One Roof in Melbourne – two co-working spaces where women can find support, network and guidance on building their business, were both huge successes. A dedicated workspace in London would undoubtedly be a hit,” he notes. Boomerang employees Emma Sinclair MBE, co-founder of EnterpriseJungle, a software enterprise company, and co-founder of the SAP Alumni Management, which allows large organizations to track former employees after they’ve left the company, says boomerang employees will be a key trend over the next 12 months. “We already know that around 12% of Microsoft employees are “boomerang” (returning) hires so this is already a thing,” Sinclair notes. “We know it takes time for companies to locate talent – and when they do, that they need to retain, develop and nurture it. By re-hiring these retirees, that knowledge is retained and protected in the organization.” Rise of remote workers The myth that work can only be done in the office is long gone, Liu. “Co-working spaces, mobile offices and virtually any coffee shop with decent wifi will become more and more attractive, not just to remote workers but to any business looking to stay ahead of the game,” he says. Workplace wellness Richard Hanwell, associate director at The Sterling Choice recruitment firm, says workplace wellness will become a priority for all forward-thinking employers over the next year and beyond. “This could be anything from gym memberships, yoga, or the design and layout of the office,” he notes. “Businesses want their employees to be able to work at their optimum level as it is beneficial and profitable to the business.” Workplace retreats Co-working and co-living will merge into one as the lines between work and life become increasingly blurred, Liu predicts. “There are already places that combine accommodation with workspace facilities under one roof. These spaces, such as The Collective, Sun & Co or ROAM, will increasingly be used by international digital nomads, freelancers, remote workers and entrepreneurs who consider themselves location independent.” Employee experience will take priority Stuart Hearn, founder of Clear Review, says companies will be doing all they can to help improve the ‘employee experience.’ “Companies can’t get away from the fact that social media and technology has provided a significant degree of transparency when it comes to the overall employee experience,” he notes. “Dissatisfied employees are only too happy to exchange stories on sites such as GlassDoor, and once a company develops a reputation for treating its workforce poorly, it can be hard to shift.” Going forward, companies will do all they can to ensure that their employees are engaged and content. Going digital Daniel Rowles, CEO of digital marketing training company Target Internet, says increasing numbers of employers will also be looking to promote a digital culture this year. “For several years and, in some cases, decades, organisations have been working hard to breed digital culture into their workforces, whether through software, digital events or other pro-digital initiatives,” he notes. “More and more companies and HR departments understand what gets results in this area, and we are expecting to see some trends emerging to help make staff digital-savvy.” Gender pay gap reporting Ian Dowd, director of NGA Human Resources, says that gender pay reporting will become much more of a priority in 2017. “The first batch of companies will release their government-mandated gender pay gap reports this year, which will hopefully help others realise that more needs to be done to deal with this serious issue,” he notes. “Payroll professionals will have a key role to play in obtaining and analysing the data and helping companies get on track.” Bringing the outdoor in office design Alexandra Marrs, creative manager at Area Sq office design agency, says ‘nature-inspired’ offices will become increasingly popular over the next year or so. “Floral patterns in fabric and artwork, exposed concrete floorings, and living walls are some of the concepts being implemented to make offices more naturalistic,” she notes. “This concept can also help promote environmental awareness and a healthy lifestyle, if you include harvestable plants, such as salad, for lunch.” Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.