15 January 2018
2018 Business Trends
Around the turn of the year you will have seen many articles published about new trends to emerge in the new year. We've asked Dr Thomas Roulet about various business trends, challenges and progresses to look out for in 2018.
Around the turn of the year you will have seen many articles published about new trends to emerge in the new year. AI & the use of bots, cryptocurrencies & blockchain, social and mobile payments, vertical mergers and acquisitions, tech backlash for leading tech companies and data as the centre of everything, have all been dominating headlines.
On a more personal level, an emerging trend is employer awareness of harassment in the workplace. Someone who knows more about this, is Dr Tomas Roulet, Senior Lecturer in International Management. We’ve asked him about this development and other business trends, challenges and progresses to look out for in 2018.
A More Comprehensive Approach to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
‘The Weinstein scandal has put the issue of sexual harassment at the centre of attention. It has also opened questions in the workplace. Sexual harassment at work is not a new issue – in fact management scholars have studied the phenomenon for almost 40 years.
What is new however, is the fact that the cases that came to light in the past year have pointed out the subtlety of sexual harassment. First, it revealed that for organisations, those situations are invisible until victims are comfortable enough to share their experiences. This calls for better reporting systems, protection of whistle-blowers, and fair processes to evaluate harassment claims. Second, harassment is multifaceted and does not only concern women, and it can have consequences for individuals’ sexual identity at work. This poses the question on how organisations can protect their employees from harassment while at the same time respecting their right to privacy. As our research suggests, efficient mentoring processes are crucial. 
In 2018, firms will thus have to renew and improve their processes to deal with sexual harassment, in particular by making visible what have remained mostly invisible occurrences in the past.’
Remote Work Will Gain Momentum
‘The spatial boundaries of the workspace will keep eroding in 2018. While remote work has long been thought to be for employees who have care duties only, it will remain on the rise and become accessible to a broader set of employees, tired of long and costly commutes – a common experience for Londoners.
It will be increasing as an operational advantage rather than a perks for employees, as it helps reduce operational costs, improve job satisfaction and even productivity! 
Although stigma around remote workers remains a problem, the diffusion of the practice should contribute to this negative label fading away. The rise of digital technologies and online collaborative platforms should help workers coordinate efficiently.
Firms will also have to manage the risks associated with remote work – free riding in team work, lack of corporate culture or miscommunication - but could do so by progressively rolling out the practice and limiting its scope.’
Bottom-up and Social Media Fuelled Corporate Scandals
‘Firms will experience increased difficulties managing their image, as the behaviours of their employees on social media can ruin their reputation in only a matter of hours. You might remember the case of a Senior Director of Corporate Communications, who got fired after a racist tweet on a plane to Africa. 
In 2018, we will see more corporate scandals triggered by the careless behaviour of employees on social media. Social media discussions are no longer off the radar and can quickly be brought to the public's attention, thus creating risks of negative reputational spirals. Firms will have to take the matter in their own hands and ensure that public relations are handled by professionals.
But, more broadly, we will also see an increasing number of corporate misconducts exposed on social media, in a similar way to the publicity received by the mistreatment of a passenger on a United Airline carrier last April.’
In short, 2018 will be a year of further dematerialisation of work. But instead of facing revolutions, firms will have the ability to progressively adapt to the concrete occurrences of longer trends.
 The Guardian