6 smart trends set to seriously disrupt the workplace in 2017

The way business gets done get smarter all the time. So, what growing trends can we expect to see taking off in the New Year?

From the humble Post-it note to the fax machine and email, forward-thinking business owners have always had one eye on growing trends in a bid to cut costs, boost productivity, and provide a better working environment.

So which are the trends to look out for in 2017?

1. Businesses will manage energy consumption better

Up until now, many businesses – like domestic customers – had to rely on estimated bills, with very little knowledge of when and how they consumed energy. But this is set to change with the arrival of smart meters: by 2020, many small businesses with fewer than 10 employees will be offered a chance to upgrade, taking their overhead management into the digital age. Smart meters ping gas and electricity readings automatically to the supplier, meaning businesses only pay for what they use. To make it easier to manage energy consumption, businesses will be able to monitor their use in near real time – including the running cost in pounds and pence – on a digital display, or an online portal. And better visibility means better opportunity to identify and eliminate waste – and improve cashflow. The smart meter rollout is already underway. Individual suppliers can advise on their plans, so it’s worth calling to check.

2. More employees will use their own technology

‘Digital natives’ have already blended their work and home lives and are forerunners of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Tech Pro Research found that almost three out of four businesses already allow or plan to allow employees to use personal devices for work. In 2015, the global BYOD and enterprise mobility market was said to be worth $106.4bn but will more than triple in size to $360bn by 2020.

3. Even more employees will work from home

The millennial worker expects to have more work-life flexibility, which is leading to raised expectations of being able to work from home. With mobile technology and cloud computing, there is very little that can’t be done remotely, bar face-to-face interaction. And even that challenge has been alleviated with video conferencing technology such as Skype. All employees already have the legal right to request flexible working, and the numbers of employees seeking to change the way they work is only likely to increase. YouGov research found 54% of employees have roles that could be done from home and 70% of employees feel it is important.

4. Fewer businesses will have their own office space

The restrictions and expense of committing to long leases are a thing of the past. Start-ups and growing businesses now have a variety of more flexible options. The shared economy has led to the rise of businesses starting up within the premises of other companies that have spare desks to sub-let. Marketplaces such as Hubble enable small businesses to co-habit. More formalised co-workspaces, such as We Work, Co-Work, and Workspace Group are growing their network of offices rapidly. This is a well established trend that looks likely to increase significantly over the next year.

5. More employees will stand and move to do their work

No, this doesn’t mean businesses will no longer provide desks, but the sedentary lifestyle – sitting still at a computer all day – is leading to back problems. And with bad posture and pain comes absence from work. One solution is to provide desks that enable employees to switch comfortably between sitting and standing. Research has also found that it increases productivity levels. You only need to see the large and growing variety of available options – from height-adjustable desks to ‘treadmill desks’  – to realise this trend is only going to build speed in the next year.

6. More company cars will be electric

In 2016, over 30,000 plug-in vehicles have been sold in the UK. This compares to just 1,052 in 2011 – a five-year growth rate of almost 3,000%. By 2020 electric vehicles will account for up to 10% of all new car sales. The trend is supported by the national rollout of charge points, with companies such as fast-growing POD Point, which provides charging stations to the likes of Sainsbury’s and Southern Rail, key to that growth. With some cities now pledging to remove carbon emitting vehicles from their centres, and offering a 100% first-year allowance for expenditure on electric charge points to encourage businesses to install them, we are close to a tipping point on the use of electric vehicles. The smart meter roll-out is also an essential component of a smarter grid. This new connected grid will allow the country to manage its energy demand and supply much more effectively, so electric car charging points can be brought to the masses without causing a strain on our energy supply. Additionally, the Department of Transport (DfT) has announced that £7.5m will be made available for workplaces to provide charge points, with the offer of £300 per installation.

Read more in our content hub dedicated to doing business smarter or visit the Smart Energy GB website for details on how to claim your smart meter.

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