My favorite workplace trends for 2018

Eva Del Rio’s perspective published on the The Gainesville Sun website. 

During the last week of every year, I scout business articles and professional journals for next year’s workplace trends (so you don’t have to). Here are the three I found most interesting for 2018:

More human interaction

Consider this a backlash/adjustment to the “remote working” trend. IBM stopped its program, bringing thousands of employees back to the office. Apple is redesigning its workspace to promote worker relationships, idea-sharing and collaboration. Google Cafés encourage interactions between employees across departments and teams. Companies find that when employees bump into each other in real life, it sparks creativity and relationship-building that leads to good things.

IMPLICATION: Nothing beats face-to-face communication. According to Harvard Business Review, researchers found that one face-to-face conversation is equivalent to 34 emails.

Retraining current workers

There’s a focus on bringing manufacturing jobs back, but we actually don’t have a lack of jobs, we have a skills gap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are currently 6.2 million unfilled job openings. Companies can’t find workers with the right skills. In addition, we not only lack the right set of skills, but those we do have are becoming less relevant quicker. Change is happening so fast that the half-life of a learned skill is only five years. And, this sentence blew my mind: “As our youngest Generation Z enters the workplace, they face an even greater skills gap, where 65% of the jobs they will need to fill don’t even exist yet.”


Companies are adapting and training. AT&T is investing 1 billion through its Workforce 2020 initiative, to help create a more skilled employee base. Develop your staff.

Artificial intelligence

At Overstock, the HR chatbot called Mila (yes, there’s such a thing), notifies managers when employees are sick. At Intel, an HR virtual assistant answers questions about pay and benefits.


Almost half of all paid tasks are likely to be automated. This is expected to save companies over $79 million yearly in salaries. On the bright side, some forecasters anticipate that humans will be “upskilled” to work alongside artificial intelligence, not simply be replaced by it.

Now, dazzle your friends with trivia and consider yourself “in the know.” Happy 2018!

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