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The hybrid world of work will benefit from the endless cycle of tech innovation both in 2022 and in the years ahead. In 2022, AI is predicted to help HR professionals streamline the hiring process, for example, helping with everything from recruiting, screening and even onboarding.

Christmas may seem like a distant memory but the upcoming year is still stretching ahead, with a wealth of new tech trends promising to disrupt tomorrow’s workplace.

Now the dust has settled and 2022 has officially started, let’s review some of the best tech predictions out there for the world’s workplaces.

  1. Your software needs a (social) upgrade

As the world continues to operate under an increasingly hybrid model, you need to invest in a solid software stack that maintains your company culture and keeps your business operating in the online space.

Glassdoor predicts top talent will want to work in a remote way in 2022 and demand top rates. It’s imperative that companies provide the right tools to facilitate remote working and optimize their recruitment drives.

But what software tools should businesses prioritize? With Zoom fatigue still hitting staff hard, employers now need to provide a range of online tools to keep everyone connected. In 2022, we can expect to see more hybrid working tools hitting the (virtual) shelves.

These software tools will encompass more of the working day, helping companies arrange conferences, food deliveries to disparate locations and monitor who is in and out of the office.

But, while companies are experimenting with new tools and policies to ensure remote staff are given the same opportunities and social contact as in-office workers, challenges still exist.

“Employers need to be intentional about making sure that remote workers are staying connected and that they are facilitating community and connection even for their in-person workers,” according to Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao, speaking in a statement.

  1. Cyber security takes precedence

Cybercriminals are still exploiting the vulnerabilities that remote work and the Covid-19 pandemic introduced to many companies. The World Economic Forum predicts that data breaches will be “larger scale and more costly” in 2022 with a whole host of attacks predicted, increasing in both scale and complexity.

So, businesses need to prioritise their cyber hygiene while also providing staff training and putting in a wealth of security solutions to help everyone stay safe and online.

Spending on threat detection and response is expected to grow in the year ahead.

“In 2022, we expect the many high-profile and far-reaching attacks in 2021 to drive further spending in threat detection and response,” says Scott Crawford, research director for information security at 451 Research, speaking in a statement.

But when it comes to monitoring staff online activity, companies need to proceed with caution.

Tattleware (also bossware) will degrade employee experience by 5% and increase insider threats in 2022,” according to a security prediction report by Forrester. “Employee backlash will grow as firms overreach, leading to an appreciable drop in technology satisfaction and employee engagement.”

  1. The metaverse starts to break new ground

The much-hyped “metaverse” is the boost that the world of VR/AR (virtual and augmented reality) technology has needed to push it into the mainstream.

GlobalData analysts are even predicting that the technology could be as revolutionary as the iPhone was back in 2007 – with some notable business applications already hitting the headlines.

The Bank of America, for example, became the first major financial services firm to launch virtual reality training for its employees in October 2021. Further research reveals VR in the workplace can reduce staff training time by 60%.

“It will be inevitable that companies begin to normalise VR in addition to tools like laptops, tablets and phones. It’s the best way to create a shared sense of space and connection among dispersed workforces,” Mark Rabkin, VP of VR at Meta recently stated in an interview for Verdict.

  1. AI streamlines the workplace – in certain areas

Artificial intelligence (AI) was often mooted to steal human jobs. (In fact, it’s a complicated topic with robots predicted by many to create more jobs than they take.) But the robots are also increasingly helping people automate their day-to-day tasks.

In 2022, AI is predicted to help HR professionals streamline the hiring process, for example, helping with everything from recruiting, screening and even onboarding. However, concerns about bias remain with this technology and this must be addressed.

Other growing AI areas for real estate professionals include streamlining everyday processes for tenants, property managers and landlords.

Natural language processing is also expected to continue to mature, already finding its place in many offices around the world and helping provide a more personalised, human-like experience for workers.

  1. Blockchain is ready for business

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are decentralised processing and recording systems that are poised to further disrupt the world of work in 2022.

“Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies are changing the nature of doing business and helping companies reimagine how they manage tangible and digital assets,” according to a recent report from Deloitte.

A range of enterprise use cases will continue to emerge, according to Deloitte, “providing organisations across industries the ability to develop new business models that transform value creation of all manner of physical and digital assets and streamline business processes across organizational boundaries.”

Coworking spaces, for example, could be rented, sold and managed using cryptocurrencies created with blockchain. But these technologies are still relatively new, with some possible drawbacks including adoption rates and state laws (in the US).

So, who’s going to develop this tech in 2022?

The world of technology will continue to adapt to our increasingly hybrid way of working in 2022. Worldwide IT spending is predicted to grow 5.1% compared to last year. However, the tech skills gap is expected to deepen in the year ahead.

Research reveals three out of four IT teams are now facing a critical skills shortage. IT leaders also see the shortage of talent as the biggest barrier to adoption for two-thirds of emerging technologies.

But the solution to this skills gap could, quite fittingly, come from the remote workforce. The latest Freelance Forward Economist report from Upwork reveals that more freelancers are taking on work in skilled professions including computer programming and IT, with numbers rising from 50% in 2020 to 53% in 2021.

Upwork said freelancers who can provide these skills will play an “essential role….in filling talent gaps and solving businesses’ most pressing needs in 2022.”

So while the hybrid workforce will force technology to improve in 2022, those hybrid workers are perfectly placed to reskill and address those skills gaps. It’s the ultimate technology feedback loop as hybrid working demand feeds demand for hybrid tech solutions feeds demand for skilled tech workers, who demand hybrid work.

And so the cycle starts again but, ultimately, the hybrid world of work will benefit from this endless cycle of tech innovation both in 2022 and in the years ahead