What Can Canada Learn from Global Workplace Trends?
Employers are getting more and more creative in an attempt to attract and retain the best talent. Workplace perks range from onsite nap-pods to unlimited vacation. A $70,000 minimum wage and egg freezing is almost passé so what is next?
Maybe the average employer cannot afford to embrace some of these cutting edge trends, but watching them gives us a glimpse into the future of Canadian workplaces.
As we scan the globe we found five wonderful, wacky and even a little out there trends that may impact the way we all work and live in the not too distant future.
China’s four-and-a-half day work week
China is testing a four and a half day work-week in two cities, Jinzhong and Jian town in Jiangxi Province, in hopes to boost their economy. The logic behind this idea is that if employers give employees more time away from work to enjoy a longer weekend, it will increase domestic consumption and leisure spending, and in return boost their economy.
In Canada we can certainly learn from this. Preliminary data demonstrates no decline in workplace productivity so this could truly be a win/win.
Baby-friendly offices and paternity leave
More and more organizations are allowing new parents to bring babies to the office. One great example is a company called Cotton Babies in St. Louis. Mothers are able to bring their babies to the office with them for a period of time when returning from maternity leave.
Paternity leave is a topic that is being discussed all over social media, news outlets and in many workplaces. The leading story that has been discussed at length is Mark Zuckerberg taking a two-month paternity leave after the birth of his daughter. All Facebook employees are now offered four months off paid maternity/paternity leave. When Facebook leads the charge, others follow suit.
In Canada we are seeing the workplace evolve to become more family friendly through flex work and more fathers taking paternity leave. In fact, the federal government is signaling that when it finally unveils changes to parental leave rules, there will be provisions dedicated exclusively to new fathers.
Workplaces that double as wellness centres or hotels
Over the past few years we have seen the dramatic rise of co-working environments. As organizations shift to more flexible work arrangements this will continue to expand. For workers who value health and wellness, a new co-working space is opening in New York City that is loaded with fitness, relaxation and replenishing amenities. Employees are encouraged to take part in organized off-site and on-site wellness activities, as well as more relaxing practices such as acupuncture and massage. All that activity is sure to work up an appetite, so healthy meal options are also available to employees. And if you are on the road or simply don’t want to go home, WeWork now offers micro dorm rooms with Murphy beds through WeLive.
Co-working is on the rise, with more freelance professionals and organizations embracing the idea of distributed offices. Look for more coworking offices offering collaborative work environments, fitness and even beer on tap near you soon.
Biophilic design and architecture
Think about bringing the outdoors in by featuring green walls made out of moss and ferns. It has been said many times before that we spend more time at work than home. Tokyo has found a way to improve time spent at work by creating biophilic workplaces. While at work many of us spend the majority of time behind a computer with artificial lighting and synthetic furniture, research shows biophilic environments lower stress and improve productivity. Imagine tomato vines growing above conference tables, and fruit trees used as partitions for meeting rooms.
Although our climate limits our options, we are definitely seeing a trend towards gardens, green roofs and more natural living greenery here in Canada.
Since the evolution of the Apple Watch we have seen a massive increase in wearable technology. What does this mean for the workplace? We are definitely seeing more companies using wearable technology to replace scan cards and key fobs. Businesses will also be able to implement and monitor health and wellness programs with ease and make providing incentives more straightforward. I am not sure we will see workplaces go as far as the employees at Epicenter in Stockholm, where they had microchips implanted under their skin. The micro chip allows employees to swipe into the office, set the alarm, register loyalty points at nearby retailers and access their fitness facilities.
Regardless of which workplace trends you’d like to adopt, there are interesting times ahead in the world of workplaces. Human capital is now our most valuable commodity so don’t expect to see these trends slow down.
Debby Carreau is the CEO of Inspired HR and the author of The Mentor Myth: How to Take Control of Your Own Success (Bibliomotion, 2016).
This article was originally posted on www.theglobeandmail.com