Mid-year review: Looking back at the market 2024 workspace predictions

21 June 2024

There was much anticipation of significant changes for the UK office and workspace sector in 2024. As we reach the mid-year point, we’ve revisited those workspace predictions from the start of the year to see how they’re shaping up.

Hybrid working – has flexible working gone too far?

The pandemic forever transformed work patterns, with businesses and employees grappling for a hybrid approach that works for everyone ever since. In 2023 60% of employees were reported to have flexible working arrangements, with real estate consultancy, Knight Frank, predicting more organisations would embrace hybrid arrangements during 2024 to optimise their workspace.

This sentiment was echoed by Vitality UK – Healthy Hybrid Working Report, 2024, with their research evidencing that 52% of business leaders report that hybrid working is the most supportive environment for employee productivity.  

While hybrid working is recognised as the preferred work model for most businesses, we are seeing an increasing number of clients keen to put in place a clear workplace strategy, complete with refurbished office space set up to support the diverse ways of working their colleagues switch between throughout the day, while encouraging more colleague connection and camaraderie.

Many businesses are struggling with a hybrid approach which is highly individualistic, where teams have lost sight of strategic goals, leaning instead towards preferred work tasks and often stalling in their personal development without the opportunity of working directly with colleagues with more advanced skills or experience. Creating a hybrid work formula that meets the needs of your people and your business is becoming fundamental to optimising commercial success. Throughout the rest of this year, we expect this trend to continue as organisations identify employee desires for a supportive hybrid model.

The Gen Z effect and rise of agile workspaces

Agile workspaces are environments that allow employees to have the freedom to select their work settings, moving between spaces depending on the work task at hand. Knight Frank predicted an increase in agile spaces at the start of the year, offering employees a range of options at their disposal to deliver their best work.  This sentiment continues to hold true, especially when addressing the increasing needs of Gen Z.  This generation is expected to represent 27% of the workforce by 2025. And with more than half of Gen Z identifying as neurodiverse according to business coaching platform ZenBusiness, we are certainly seeing a rise in agile workspaces that promote inclusivity and are considerate of the diverse range of employee needs. As the year progresses, we anticipate continued demand for agile spaces that work harder to facilitate modern ways of work, delivering for multiple purposes.

The role of technology in the office

Innovations in technology have been transforming the way we work for years. A 2023 study by PwC found that 59% of UK businesses plan to invest in new technology within the next 18-24 months. A trend which has only grown throughout the year as businesses drive ROI through tech innovations.

Technology has become a critical element of the employee experience – both at home and in the office. This year we’re seeing further enhancements to the operations of workspace, as companies utilise smart tech and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

A report from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) shows that a large percentage of small businesses are using AI tools to vastly improve efficiency offering significant savings annually. 25% of small businesses said rising labour costs led them to AI tools

Automation will streamline tasks, collaboration tools will allow for more effective remote communication, employee experience will be improved and efficiencies in energy usage will be made. For businesses looking to streamline building costs, AI and smart technology offer a real opportunity. This trend is only set to accelerate as further innovations become available for businesses and brands scramble to not be left behind.

Looking ahead

We look forward to revisiting these predictions later this year, reflecting on how they have tracked and what key learnings we can take into 2025. Our latest whitepaper, Evolving Workspaces 2024, explores the key considerations for workplace strategy in line with this year’s office and workspace trends.

Take a read of the whitepaper here to gain insight and advice on how to create a workplace strategy which supports colleagues to do the right work in the right environment.

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