A Belgian perspective on workplace trends

While the workplace sector is still feeling the aftermath of the pandemic globally, countries across Europe are adapting differently to the emerging market trends.

Our Brussels-based member Alternativ sheds a light on the main trends currently affecting the office sector in Belgium – and how businesses are reacting to change.

Working from home is here to stay

Having surveyed the extent of home working in Belgium in the summer of 2020, SD Worx states that 85% of employers deem their remote work technology of a very high standard, performing ‘really well to perfectly’.

Almost 90% of said employers are also planning on maintaining their work from home infrastructure once the coronavirus emergency is fully over, to support employee retention and supporting their work/life balance.

A stronger, renewed focus on employee wellbeing has climbed to the forefront of many businesses agenda in recent times. Employers also recognise the benefits of remote working for their companies, citing improved morale and enhanced productivity as an effect of time saved on travel.

The best of both worlds

According to Katleen Jacobs from SD Worx, however, the spotlight is shifting towards the disadvantages of working from home. ‘To start with, the focus lay on the benefits. Now, however, employers are having to deal with the other side of the coin, with reduced engagement between employees and with the organisation itself.’ Experts are therefore recommending hybrid structures that combine the advantages of home-working with the benefits of going into to the office. In this scenario, flexible workstations and multifunctional meeting areas become a vital element for the office market going forward. 

AI defining office trends

In 2020, the World Economic Forum predicted that AI and automation would create 97 million new jobs across the world by 2025. Many existing jobs will also inevitably change because of artificial intelligence. In the offices of the future, repetitive tasks will be increasingly assigned to computers and robots, while human employees will focus on activities which require creativity, imagination, strategic thinking or emotional intelligence. 

Even businesses that are less likely to be affected by this ongoing process will eventually have to give in to improved technology and the staff training that comes with it. The latter issue is certainly lacking among Belgian employers, according to the SD Worx. Over 75% have failed to train employees on collaborative digital tools or computer skills, despite the current market trends.

Prioritising sustainability

Environmental awareness is increasing, particularly among the younger generations. In the workplace sector, both customers and employees are more and more aware of the environmental impact of materials, furniture, equipment, lighting and heating. Sustainability will be one of the big drivers for 2022.

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