Five emerging workplace trends

Work hours
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

9 January 2017

The modern workplace is an ever-evolving thing, trying to keep up with health-conscious and digitally attuned employees.

There are some famous examples of companies taking an innovative approach to workplace practices, with modern recreation areas and unusual perks for staff.

But beyond swapping out stairs for slides, a host of new ideas from around the world are reinventing the workday as we know it.

1. Working nine-to-three

Six-hour work days are a concept that have been popular in Sweden for some time. The policy gained traction and media attention in the past few years as employers reported increased productivity, lower turnover, reduced sick leave and a general feeling of enhanced well-being.

A number of UK companies have taken up the practice, including Glasgow-based Senshi Digital, which adjusted its working hours to 9:30am-3:30pm last year.

Workers at the company are encouraged to tackle tasks in 45-minute increments with short breaks in-between. According to Director Chris Torres, this has helped employees stay hyper-focused on one thing at a time, rather than spreading themselves thin. As such, productivity has actually increased, despite the shorter days.

2. Technology blackout

Staying digitally connected is a key facet of modern life, particularly from a business standpoint. However, it is the belief of some that being constantly plugged in is detrimental to the mental heath and work/life balance of professionals.

Legislators in France voted on a 'right to disconnect' which requires companies of more than 50 people to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails. The measure is intended to combat work-related stress and prevent burnout.

PriceMinister, an online marketplace based in central Paris, went one step further and has instituted 'no-email Fridays' to encourage employees toward non-digital communication.

3. Sleeping on the job

Some may balk at the idea of falling asleep at work but more and more companies are waking up to allowing 'naptime' and providing space to do so.

Google famously has nap pods at its California headquarters and other familiar names like Ben & Jerry's and Uber have rooms put aside. PwC has also adopted the practice at its highly modern Swiss offices.

A lack of sleep can cause high levels of stress, anxiety and depression and companies that invest in the wellness of their employees tend to report improved productivity and positivity in the workplace.

In a similar vein, an American CEO came up with an initiative that allowed workers to earn a monetary bonus from getting a good night’s sleep.

4. Thinking on your feet

Perhaps one of the slightly more unusual aspects of offices like Boeing, Intel and Apple is the array of different desks. Standing desks, adjustable sit-stand workstations and even desks hooked up to fitness machines allow employees to avoid sitting in one position for eight hours a day.

In recent years, sitting has been branded as 'the new smoking' and with good reason. A sedentary lifestyle increases the chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as causing muscle atrophy.

As such, it is becoming more common for HR departments to receive requests for desks that offer a break from routine. Other initiatives such as providing pedometers and Fitbits to encourage exercise also show a concern for employee health.

5. Four-legged therapy

According to research by recruitment experts Reed, 8% of employees in the UK are allowed dogs in the workplace.

The City Place headquarters of Nestlé has a Pets at Work (PAW) programme in place that sees canine companions lounging by their owners' desks or frolicking in the specially designated 'Central Bark' garden area. Pets have been proven to reduce stress and promote a more social atmosphere as others wish to engage with the animals.

The Guardian reported that more than 50 UK companies, ranging from theatres to software developers, claim to have benefited from having a furry friend or two sniffing around.


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