2018 Workplace Trends: the Magnitude of Change is Mindboggling


I’m writing this blog post while ensconced at “my” table at Ludlow House. I’m surrounded by a tribe of young professionals – most are creative entrepreneurs. Everyone is buried in their laptops or “taking” meetings.

  • Ludlow House is gorgeous, the staff is getting ready to serve lunch.
  • The soundtrack is perfect for late morning – a bit of Let Me Get There by Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions followed by Sunshine on My Face by FM Laeti and then my favorite, Wild Horses by the Stones.
  • I can’t imagine a better and more inspiring way – and place – to work. And it couldn’t be more different to how I got the job done 20 years ago.

The magnitude of workplace change was brought home to many of us last week when news broke that WeWork was buying Lord & Taylor’s iconic flagship on 5th Avenue and turning it into their HQs. Lord & Taylor will rent a small space from them in the hopes the WeWork crowd will shop there – keep dreaming guys! Not going to happen!

With millennials now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce (and Gen Z starting to enter the workforce), we can anticipate many more significant changes in how we work.

Read on below for 2018’s major work trends.





1. Niche learning

From the emerging cannabis industries to cybersecurity, specialized training is popping up across the country.

  • Training for the emerging legal marijuana industry (e.g. growers, chemists and retail employees) is critical since the industry is expected to create a quarter of a million U.S. jobs by 2020. The industry now has its own training and staffing firms.
  • The majority of the 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs projected by 2022, will go unfilled. Stakeholders in that space are getting creative e.g. Bootcamp learning, provides immersion training in the field and other tech disciplines.

2. Training for remote (distributed) teams

Training for remote workers is creating new types of distance learning and connectivity programs for employers.

  • EY (formerly Ernst & Young) launched a “virtual academy” that offers live, instructor-led courses that are highly immersive in a virtual setting and include innovative ways for people to connect with fellow learners through regular community calls, online chats, and robust, dedicated hubs such as EY SharePoint and Yammer sites.

3. Ultra high-tech VR and AR address the experience gap

Companies like KFC and Walmart are increasingly adopting VR to train employees.

  • The University of Nebraska Medical Center is taking training to the next level with a cutting-edge simulation facility opening next year. The facility is training the next generation of healthcare workers that has been raised using digital and interactive technologies.

4. Upskilling

Whether it’s because the opioid crisis has created a talent gap in their community, or local colleges aren’t turning out computer science grads with the right skills, employers and community groups are looking to fill the skills gap on their own. Often, efforts have focused on upskilling those already in the workforce.

  • Walmart University will graduate more than 225,000 employees from its training academies in 2017.
  • 75% of store management began as hourly associates.
  • The talent gaps also have resulted in employers getting involved in training the next generation of workers — in some cases, much earlier than before. Apprenticeships, college partnerships and even new schools are emerging.



The 15 fastest-growing occupations all reflect an aging population, shift to clean energy and employer demands for science, tech and math expertise.

  • Demand for solar photovoltaic installers — responsible for installing systems on roofs – is projected to more than double over the next 10 years.
  • Eight of the remaining 14 fastest-growing occupations are in health care e.g. personal care aides, physician assistants.’
  • The highest paid jobs are for mathematicians.



The most rapidly declining jobs: typists, watch repairers, and postal workers.



TOP COMPANIES FOR TECH WORKERS (Source: Bloomberg Technology/Hired)

The most appealing companies:

Big tech names topped the list but geographical breakdowns showed more diversity:

  • Denver: SendGrid, a startup doing marketing email, had the highest ranking
  • Washington DC: financial services like Capital One topped the list
  • Seattle: Redfin, which went public this year, topped the list

Excluded from the global top-ten: Amazon, Uber and Airbnb.

  •  Of the top-ranking tech brands, only two — Canada’s Shopify and Australia’s Atlassian Corp. — are based outside of California.



2018 WORKSPACE TRENDS (Source: Commercial Property Executive)

Co-working, collaborative spaces

  •  Continued shift to collaborative spaces for a “work casual” feeling esp. at tech companies or creative firms such as Google and Pixar.
  • By 2018, the number of shared spaces will reach well above a million units and apps like Croissant or Desk.Works make them more accessible.

Wellness at work

  • More office buildings have integrated fitness centers, pools, saunas and spas.

Green spurs growth

  •  A massive emerging office trend is biophilic design, where companies are trying to find a way to connect the workplaces with the outdoors.
  • The green design allows plants and bits of nature into every office and beyond—cubicle walls are often replaced by green dividers, while the most daring go for an entire moss-covered wall.

Colors and textures

  •  Wood, faux leather, stones and metal are the most sought-after textures.

Minimal touch

  •  Technology has reduced the need for space-consuming gadgets.
  • The workplace itself has shrunk with big desktop computers replaced by personal laptops. Smartphones allow employees to move around freely and be constantly connected.

Data-driven design

  •  Office layouts were previously created based on assumptions. Today, employee behaviors play a much more important role thanks to wearable devices e.g. Humanyze’s sociometric ID badges include integrated sensors, accelerometers, Bluetooth and microphones that collect the employee’s data.
  • Enlighted is another product that gathers information through sensors on occupancy and movement within an area, allowing a company to understand how the workplace is utilized.

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