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The future of work is closer than you think

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: The future of work, the perils of unlimited vacation, and the disconnect between executives and employees.

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

The future of work is near

We're less than two months away from the new year, and 2022 is in some ways just as mysterious to us as life a decade from now — which make Forrester's annual Future of Work predictions for the next year all the more fascinating. How could something so close feel so far away? (I'll leave the rest of these thoughts for my therapist.)

"We do this exercise annually and I'll be honest, our challenge is to try to force ourselves to say what measurable thing will happen in that calendar year," vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, James McQuivey, told Protocol. He said his team started with the question of how companies plan to clean up from the pandemic, but now the future of work is more about, "Do people really want to work for you?"

Forrester's predictions for what will shape work in 2022 revolve around four central ideas:

  • Workplaces will need to evaluate systemic risk more proactively — think climate change, political events and other related disasters.
  • Robots, automation and smart technologies are just as important to organizations as the human workforce. 😬 🤖
  • There will be an increase of "as-yet-unmanaged employee data" and what companies will need in order to figure out what to do with that data. (All that data companies now have about how long employees are actually online while working remotely and when, for example).
  • Last, rising employee power will contribute to a need for organizations to continuously reinvent work.

McQuivey said these four themes are predicted to play out in a variety of ways among employees and employers:

  • Forrester predicts about one-third of organizations will fail at the "work anywhere" initiative, mainly because many leaders will allow for hybrid work but still design meetings, roles and opportunities around face-to-face interactions.
  • HR is expected to spend more time on strategy. Currently CHROs focus a great deal on compliance, McQuivey told Protocol. As more of the focus in workplaces shifts to systematic risk and creating more effective hybrid organizations, leaders in HR will be pushed to spend more time on strategy initiatives.
  • The influx of employees' remote behavior data that leaders now possess is predicted to be utilized in a different way in the coming year. While many fear this data could be used for disciplinary reasons, Forrester says it will be less about if employees are working, but rather how they are working. For example, companies that establish "no meeting" days will take the data into consideration to see if workers are following the policy.
  • Quit rates are expected to increase, especially at companies that do not invest in the employee experience. Monthly quit rates are already as high as 2% at some companies, said McQuivey.

Forrester expects 65% of U.S. companies will implement formal employee experience programs in 2022 to boost engagement, a jump from 48%.

Is unlimited vacation really unlimited?

Unlimited vacation has become a more common perk in the tech workplace. But what was implemented to encourage more work-life balance for employees has instead created a new challenge: Workers aren't taking enough vacation. Employees are often concerned they're taking too many days and frequently follow the unspoken norms set by their managers. Now companies are coming up with creative solutions to get people to use their PTO. For example, Software startup Lessonly (by Seismic) put a recommendation in place to serve as a guide for its employees. The company recommends employees take a minimum of 20 days off a year. Other tech companies have opted for straight-up cash bonuses to get workers to take a vacation.

Read the full story here.


Create a more confident workplace with Envoy's proof of vaccination. Comply with federal mandates and provide a work environment that employees trust to keep them safe. Employees upload proof of vaccination for a company admin to verify before they arrive on-site.

Learn more

Talk to us

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Today's tips & tools

You can use your work calendar for more than just scheduling meetings and peeping at your co-workers' calendars. Here are a few tips for getting more out of Microsoft Outlook's calendar. (Don't worry, we'll cover Gmail hacks in a future issue.)

  • It's all about where you're using Outlook. Some of the most dynamic features can be found on the desktop app rather than the browser version. The app also offers a more modern and updated aesthetic (if that's important to you).
  • You can also share your calendars with your colleagues without them having to search. This is best done via the browser version of Outlook. To share your calendar, simply click the share icon in the top right side of your calendar window. Type the email address of the person in or outside of your organization to share your availability. You can also select in the drop-down bar what people can see or edit. Once selected, click send.
  • You can view more than one calendar at the same time. This can be done in the browser or the app to see your calendars and/or a colleague's side by side. In the navigation bar, select the other calendar you would like to view simultaneously. Check the box and you'll see it appear beside your current calendar.

The great employee and executive disconnect

You can't talk about the future of work without acknowledging the great disconnect between employees and executives and their visions for the coming years. The most prominent divide exists in relation to where we will be working in the future. While some execs are notoriously happy to return to the physical office, others are more hesitant to let go of new hybrid norms. It's hard to find a big tech company that's not feeling the pressure. Last month, Slack's Future Forum research initiative released a survey related to the employee and executive disconnect. Here are some of the biggest takeaways.

  • When it comes to executives, they're eager to return to the office: 75% want to work from the office three or more days per week, and 44% want to come in every day.
  • 66% of executives said "they are designing post-pandemic workforce policies with little to no direct input from employees," according to the report.
  • Employees are noticing. Only 42% of the workers surveyed responded that they believe executives were being "very transparent" regarding post-pandemic policies.
  • Last, while 75% of the surveyed executives said they want to work in the office three to five days a week, only 34% of employees wish to do so.


Create a more confident workplace with Envoy's proof of vaccination. Comply with federal mandates and provide a work environment that employees trust to keep them safe. Employees upload proof of vaccination for a company admin to verify before they arrive on-site.

Learn more

Making moves

SmartRecruiters appointed Lisa Sterling as its new chief people officer. Prior to joining the software company, Sterling was chief administrative and HR officer at EverCommerce.

Fabriik appointed Katja Ash as its chief people officer. Ash was formerly vice president of human resources and operations at Hummingbird Lawyers.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

One long read: A glimpse at what it's really like to be an activist in the tech industry over the past decade.

Is your company's return to the office policy a red flag? Here's what to look out for.

A Q&A with HR expert Ben Jackson about what's broken in our collective work culture.

When it comes to numbers, women still rule HR.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great weekend, see you next week.

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