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Businesses must rethink growth strategies as our relationships with work, technology and the planet change

Nearly two years of disruption to the fabric of society has resulted in a collective shift in people’s relationships with work, consumerism, technology and the planet, pushing companies to design new ways of doing business, according to the annual Fjord Trends report from global management consultancy firm Accenture. 

Businesses looking to deliver value and relevance to customers, employees and society can look to Fjord Trends for practical guidance on how best to navigate the year ahead. 

According to the report, newly identified behaviours will challenge businesses to rethink their approach to design, innovation and growth as a result of the shifts in employee expectations and mindset, scarcity caused by disrupted supply chains, and new virtual environments such as the metaverse. 

Bronwyn vn der Merwe, Accenture Interactive’s APAC design lead and General Manager for Fjord APAC says these shifts mean we need to design experiences that matter for employees and for customers. 

“We’ve had two years of disruption to our lives and the systems on which society is run, and it’s definitely taking its toll. But we believe there are great opportunities to reimagine new systems and new ways of being. 

“As people’s relationships shift collectively, companies are being pushed to respond, to design new ways of doing business. Whether businesses like it or not, they will be challenged to rethink their approach to building meaningful customer relationships in response to the significant changes we’re seeing in human behaviour and attitudes.”

Fjord Trends 2022 has identified five trends that will influence society, culture and business:

  • Come as you are: The growing sense of agency that people have over their lives two years into the pandemic is affecting the way they work, relate and consume. People are questioning who they are and what matters to them. The rising individualism underlined by a “me over we” mentality has profound implications for organisations in how they lead their employees, how they shape a new employee value proposition, and how they nurture company-customer relationships.
  • The end of abundance thinking?: Over the past year, many have experienced empty shelves, rising energy bills, and shortages in everyday services. While supply chain shortages might be a temporary challenge, the impact will persist and lead to a shift in ‘abundance thinking’ – built on availability, convenience and speed – to greater consciousness about the environment. Businesses must address the availability anxiety experienced by many around the world.
  • The next frontier: A cultural explosion waiting to happen, the metaverse will be a new frontier of the internet, combining all the existing layers of information, interfaces and spaces with which people interact. It offers a new place to make money, is creating new job types, and offers infinite brand possibilities that people will expect businesses to help build and navigate. And it won’t just exist through screens and headsets — it will also be about real-world experiences and places that interact with the digital world.
  • This much is true: People now expect to ask and have questions answered at the touch of a button or through a brief exchange with a voice assistant. The fact that it’s so easy and immediate means people are asking more questions. For brands, the range of customer questions and the number of channels for asking them is growing constantly. How to answer them is a major design challenge, a critical driver for trust, and a future source of competitive advantage
  • Handle with care: Care became more prominent this past year in all its forms: self-care, care for others, the service of care, and the channels to deliver care, both digital and physical. This is creating opportunities and challenges for employers and brands, regardless of their health or medical credentials. The responsibilities around caring for ourselves and others will continue to be prioritised in our lives. Designers and businesses alike need to make space for being able to practice care.  

“Our relationship with our workplace is changing, and we’re seeing that come to life in this year’s trends,” says van der Merwe.

“People are seeking new ways to supplement their income and reduce the need to rely on work, primarily enabled by the accessibility of digital platforms in securities, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

“An employer in 2022 will need to step back and understand how to stay relevant through these changes – whether it’s embracing their employees’ side-hustles or updating their benefits package – or employees will look to leave. 

“Businesses need to be thinking about how to show care to employees and customers. New research from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) showed that 1 in 2 New Zealand employees are at high-risk of burning out, up from 1 in 9 before the pandemic. Businesses need to acknowledge this in 2022 and consider ways of updating offerings to recognize the challenges that employees are facing. 

“Care, and how that care manifests at work, will be central in workplace conversations this year after a challenging two years for employees.”

Fjord Trends, which is focused on customer behaviour and its resulting impact on society, culture and business for the coming year, is crowdsourced from across Accenture Interactive’s global network of 2,000+ designers and innovators in more than 40 locations.

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