A laptop showing several faces on a Zoom call, symbolising remote working as one of many workplace trends this year.
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5 workplace trends in 2022 – and what we can learn from them

23 Dec 2022

From productivity paranoia to quiet quitting, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest developments in the world of work.

This past year has been another whirlwind of changes for the world of work. There have been developments both in Ireland and globally that have had an impact on workers across a variety of industries.

As we look ahead to a new year, there are plenty of trends – both good and not so good – that leaders can learn from.

The ongoing remote working revolution

Moves towards a more remote workplace continued, with nearly one in five Irish job ads offering remote working, according to a LinkedIn report in February.

As the year went on, the right to request remote working became a hot topic in Ireland. Though the original draft bill was heavily criticised, an adjusted version became integrated into the Work Life Balance Bill in November.

These moves come at a time when the number of remote working hubs around the country passed 300, marking a definite milestone in how and where the Irish workforce is working.

With this in mind, leaders should ensure that they listen to their employees when it comes to flexible and remote working options if they want to retain and attract talent next year.

Productivity paranoia

While remote working is clearly here to stay in some form, one development that continues to rear its ugly head is the toxic rhetoric around remote working and the looming issue of burnout.

In May, Alan Sugar said in a tweet that there is “no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location”.

This was not just an isolated thought of a businessman who is used to the old way of working. One report found that digital presenteeism is on the rise as employees worry that they’re not ‘seen’ to be doing enough work remotely.

A Microsoft report in September then said that there’s an increase of ‘productivity paranoia’ – where leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, number of meetings, and other activity metrics have increased.

Employers need to ensure they don’t fall into the trap of micromanagement and proximity bias that will be detrimental to staff.

The growth of quiet quitting

2022 also saw the phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’, a buzzword that started as a celebration of employees taking back some power over their work-life balance and not burning themselves out or working beyond their expected hours.

However, this was quickly followed by criticism, a lot of which was centred around how people interpret the phrase – whether it means simply doing your job or whether it means putting in the absolute minimum effort to every work task you have.

While I have my own issues with the meaningless catchphrase, there are some lessons to be gained from its emergence this year. It should not be considered quitting to simply do what is asked of you in the job you are paid for and it’s OK to create boundaries. This brings me to another prominent workplace development that has been dominating headlines of late.

Musk’s questionable leadership style

Very few weeks have gone by in recent months where the world of tech has not woken up and been forced to think, “I wonder what Elon Musk has done now?”

Among the wild developments that came from purchasing Twitter to his latest flip-flopping around policy changes, there have also been employees who have been caught up in the storm.

Aside from the questionable way in which Musk laid off half of the social media platform’s workforce, we’ve also seen other signs of his chaotic leadership style, demanding “extremely hardcore” commitments to “long hours at high intensity”. He’s also well-known for being against the idea of remote working.

It may seem obvious that managers ought not to follow in the footsteps of Musk in terms of managing staff, but when you combine this with the other trends of questioning productivity and employees no longer wanting to go above and beyond, it’s important to take a step back and realise that this is not a rhetoric to strive for.

The tech winter

In recent months we have seen many high-profile companies announce staff reductions. Aside from Twitter’s own issues, tech giants such as Meta, Amazon and Microsoft have been announcing mass job cuts, which can be extremely hard for workers.

However, this does not have to be all doom and gloom. While these layoffs have been labelled a ‘tech winter’ by many within the industry, there are still plenty of companies that are desperate for tech talent and could stand to benefit from a sudden influx of skilled workers to the market. Remote working is enabling a widening talent pool as well, which leaders can capitalise on.

There are also lessons within those layoff announcements to think about how to best look after your employees, especially during an economically difficult time.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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