How Work Changed Over 2017

With 2017 at an end, it’s a good time to look back at the shifts and trends in our working lives that occurred throughout the year.

From a new focus on mental health to companies searching for new, flexible office space solutions, here are the workplace trends that came to prominence throughout 2017.

Companies began ditching the traditional office

Basing your company out of a coworking space in Shoreditch, rather than the more traditional surroundings of expensive London office space, used to be the preserve of freelancers and tiny startups. In 2017, that began to change – more and more companies, from multinational giants like KPMG to newer success stories like Deliveroo, chose collaborative, flexible shared workspaces over dedicated offices. Even Amazon’s new London headquarters seemed to incorporate elements reminiscent of a coworking space, while in India the government took advantage of the rising trend and opened their own shared workspace.

The majority of people who made the switch reported highly positive outcomes – one survey found by the Harvard Business Review found that workers based in coworking spaces were more likely to view their work as meaningful and fulfilling.

There was a greater focus on wellness and mental health

Despite one in six people in the UK experiencing a common mental health problem every week, it’s taken a long time for many workplaces to take their employees’ mental health as seriously as they would their physical health. The reasons for this have always been varied, ranging from negative attitudes and the resulting stigma to a lack of understanding about how best to deal with mental health situations.

Fortunately, 2017 saw a significantly increased focus on the mental wellbeing of workforces, from World Mental Health Day’s unprecedentedly high profile in the media to the viral story of a CEO’s supportive attitude to the mental health of his staff. Research also emerged that showed how workplace wellness schemes aimed at changing negative company cultures could greatly improve the wellbeing and performance of staff.

Hopefully, this will be one trend that only gathers more momentum throughout 2018.

The rise of the on-demand and gig economies

Perhaps the most significant, and certainly the most divisive, work trend in 2017 was the ongoing growth of the gig and on-demand economies. At times it could seem as if every single week there were a handful of new startups to compete alongside gig based platforms like Uber and JustEat, or on-demand services like eBay and Airbnb. This shift towards an economy available at the click of a button, or more likely the tap of a smartphone, has resulted in a dramatic shift in many people’s working lives – though whether it has been for better or for worse continues to divide opinion. Some people believe that an on-demand economy fosters creativity, flexibility, and entrepreneurial drive. For others, it means ever-increasing job precarity, a lack of workplace protections and an irregular work/life balance.

Wherever you stand on this particular trend, it only looks set to continue – and figuring out how to adapt to a new working world looks likely to become a high priority for many businesses and workers in the coming years.