Millennials currently account for the largest generation in the workforce, which means millennial workplace values, goals, and priorities are majorly reshaping what a traditional workplace — and work day — looks like. From flexible vacation time to an aesthetically pleasing office, it’s all about feeling in control and inspired. The new year is a perfect time to ditch bad office habits and embrace (at least some of) the top seven workplace trends for 2018. We chatted with Shannon Fitzgerald, director of HR at The Muse, and Jonathan Webb, VP of workplace strategy at KI, to learn just what’s in store for the professional set this year.

A woman smiles during a meeting

1. Outdoor Work Spaces: Whether it’s extending WiFi to the picnic tables on the lawn or adding an outdoor cafe to the building’s coffee shop, finding ways to utilize outdoor space for work is a growing trend that’s been proven to lower stress and boost mood. Webb tells us that over 40 percent of tech companies have some sort of outdoor work spaces for their employees. He also says that “the number of employers interested in designing their way to healthier employees has doubled in the past three years.”

2. Proactive HR Policies: “We’ll continue to see a decrease in top-down organizational decisions, as well as a shift toward a more collective, bottom-up way of operating,” Fitzgerald explains. She says she’s seen a “significant increase” in how often companies collect feedback from their employees; from “pulse polls to engagement surveys, companies are making more educated decisions based on what their teams want and need.” She believes this will lead to a more proactive human resources strategy that’ll have less to do with putting out fires and more to do with supporting employees in a meaningful way.

3. In-Person Meetings: “60 percent of tech companies’ office spaces are devoted to collaborative meeting spaces, rather than nose-to-the-grindstone workstations,” Webb says. Prioritizing in-person meetings and face-to-face brainstorming sessions means building relationships, strengthening interpersonal skills, and growing public speaking confidence. Sounds like a win all the way around to us.

4. Remote Work Opportunities: Again, here’s an idea that’s not particularly revolutionary, but one that Fitzgerald is sure will see even more traction in 2018. She says that “a lot of companies focus more on output and the quality of work being produced rather than how and where the work is getting done.” Not only does research show that individuals are more productive when working remotely, but the schedule flexibility and work ownership it provides make for loyal, happy employees. Plus, “employers have access to a greater talent pool,” so everyone benefits.

5. Relaxed Office Spaces: We’ve seen a trend away from depressing fluorescent lighting, uninspired cubicles, and drafty offices for years now, but Webb says well-designed, casual offices are becoming a nonnegotiable in 2018. He explains that “almost 90 percent of college grads have felt ‘lost in transition’ in their first year on the job,” and companies are appealing to their modern mindset by creating “flexible spaces that remind new hires of their alma mater’s coffee shops and lounges.”

6. Recognizing Work-Life Balance: Fitzgerald says that one of the biggest trends she’s seeing is companies “recognizing, appreciating, and empowering employees in their lives both inside and outside the office.” In other words, treating them like fully formed humans. She thinks this trend will take different forms in the coming months, from “more learning and development initiatives that will help employees grow in ways that are meaningful to them to a focus on wellness programs to support healthy lifestyles and the development of employee-driven groups to cultivate inclusive cultures.” By cultivating a more well-rounded team, Fitzgerald says that businesses will “start seeing more diverse teams, as well as higher commitment and better engagement from their employees.”

7. Generous Parental Leave Policies: Here’s one we’ve been advocating for since forever — seriously, there are so many countries that totally nail parental leave, and we should be one of them! Fitzgerald is excited about this shift too. She calls out the Pledge Parental movement as a positive step in the right direction. She explains that “more generous leave policies will encourage more women to stay in the workplace, which will help remove the gender pay gap that typically comes from re-entering the workforce after time off.” The Muse offers a “Baby at Work program where new parents can bring their baby into the office a certain number of days per week for up to six months,” which is an awesome example of that whole “being human at work” trend she’s also stoked on.

Which new workplace trend are you most excited for your company to adopt? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

(Photo via Getty)