Trends for 2022: what to pay attention to in the New Year

Trends for 2022: what to pay attention to in the New Year
Photo by Krissana Porto

Out with the old, in with the new…

A ritual that takes place at the end of each year is that countless experts and forecasters predict their key trends for the coming year. We don’t like predictions, which tend to focus on the immediate at the expense of the more subtle but important longer-term drivers of change, yet it is always useful to keep an eye on the horizon. 

Last month’s community call looked at the trends for 2022, and there was growing consensus that uncertainty is the ‘new normal’. The ‘Great Resignation’ and hybrid working trends ensure that the future of work provides both threats as opportunities for you to leverage. Values are becoming more important, but equally challenging to uphold. Businesses everywhere are going to need to think how best to build authentic values into their DNA and communicate them effectively.

  • Work trends: Covid exacerbated a number of trends taking place, including the growth of the ‘human cloud’, populated by career nomads; the rise of hybrid work: working from home plus office; the push for upskilling and reskilling via self-directed learning…all of which have resulted in the Great Resignation as staff make for the door.
  • Business trends: The disruptions of Covid have forced businesses and organisations to reinvent themselves in order to survive, making organizational change and agility an inevitability. Some argue that with so many disillusioned consumers wanting to feel they are more than a data commodity, it means the end of loyalty. These necessary transformative changes require authenticity, a laser focus on purpose as well as real workplace diversity and inclusion (i.e. educational, socioeconomic, religious, racial, sexual, age, national orientations) if they are to succeed.
  • Digitisation trends: An e-commerce-driven world of digital channels – websites, social media, etc. – has now become the dominant one, leading to new data, cybersecurity and privacy measures as well as advances in AI and autonomous systems. Some argue that we might be seeing a techlash, as consumers and regulators push back.
  • Virtual trends: As real-world realities become harder to stomach, many people are choosing to escape to the metaverse and interact virtually. Some forecasters believe this will lead to an age of personalization and hyper individualization, while others argue that this is creating a connection conundrum, where many people are unable to create meaningful relationships online. The same adjustment difficulties apply to how we make sense of the world around us.
  • Financial trends: There are many forecasts for the emergence of state-sponsored digital currencies and new forms of funding, such as decentralised crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs), tokenisation and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
  • Environmental trends: We’ve just had COP26, so unsurprisingly many argued thatenvironmental factors would be top of agenda, raising issues such as conscious consumption (e.g. fair trade). Other forecasts highlighted the rising cost of energy and its impacts on the cost of living.
  • Social trends: Forecasts included post-cookie targeting, which would mean restoring ‘privacy’, the rise of a more collective mindset – and the opposite rise of personalisation. Trust and transparency are big issues, and there are signs that social unrest is growing.
  • Health trends: Covid, Long Covid and a ‘prolonged pandemic’ are all forecasted. So too is the rise of mental health problems, with online burnout, the implications of a lack of work/life separation and post-pandemic and social unrest emotions all contributing factors. 

It is important to keep an eye on trends because it sensitises you to the ways in which the world is changing. But trends aren’t as important as the tectonic shifts that drive them. These are the big drivers of change that will have bigger impact further down the line. But they’re often more uncomfortable to look at than the immediate because they are more uncertain.

To think about these you can revisit our Corset Laces, the tectonic shifts that we’ve identified as causing the inevitable squeeze of the global economy that creates a Corset Economy. All these laces – Monopolies and Network Effects; Debt and the Social Contract, One Planet Earth, World of Work and Misrules of the Game – are tightening their grip. What does this mean for you? Be prepared for things to change unexpectedly. Those buzzwords like resilience, flexibility and agility are likely to be here to stay.