When I sit down to write my trend predictions each November, I am usually struck by an overriding theme I see strengthening in the new year. The only thing different this year is that the theme has remained for three years running: chaos.
This time last year, in my Zoomsday Predictions, I noted that resilience and adaptation would be the order of the day—and year. Getting more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable has certainly come in handy in 2021, especially as we remain in limbo, continuing to battle existential threats to people and the planet and too often seeming to take two steps back for each one forward.
The reality is that most of us are not heading into 2022 with the same sense of relief and anticipation we felt 12 months ago when we finally got to put 2020 in our rearview mirrors. Will 2022 be 2021 redux? Or will we apply some of the lessons learned over the course of the pandemic to devise a better path forward?
I don’t have definitive answers, but with my 22 trendsightings for 2022, I hope to contribute at least some small semblance of order to a world that is anything but orderly. Among the trends I see shaping the year ahead:
Marian Salzman joined us live on December 14th for an insightful conversation about the 22 for 2022. Watch the replay live above.
Mental Health Moves Out in the Open
As the world gets wiser to so-called diseases of despair, this is the right moment for the adoption of tools and technologies to tackle mental health problems and promote well-being. Weighted blankets, meet flotation therapy, reduced workweeks, and virtual reality‒boosted meditation. We should expect growth, too, in wellness apps and wearable neurofeedback devices—some with subscriptions sponsored by employers.
Rethinking How We Work
After the Great Pause of the pandemic, people are reconsidering what they want from work—and how much they’re willing to put up with. More is expected of companies, including not just fair wages but effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and a commitment to advancing social justice. As employers look into hybrid approaches and seek smarter ways to upskill and reskill their workforces, watch for a rise of “cohesion cultivators,” internal and external specialists tasked with bringing together a scattered workforce in meaningful ways.
Admiration for Science, Fear of Science
Resistance to vaccines is nothing new, but the politicization of science has reached the point that it threatens to thwart progress—and almost certainly is contributing to the COVID-19 death toll. Even more divisive will be the fear regarding cutting-edge technologies such as gene editing.
The Missing Middle
In these polarized times—and with hate on the rise—“middle” and “center” have been stuck with a bad rap. Most people tend toward centrism in many respects, but they’re not the ones setting agendas and driving news cycles. As it becomes increasingly clear that extremism is getting us nowhere, look for more people to take conscious steps toward a place where consensus is not anathema and collaboration on our biggest challenges is not considered contemptible.
What else can we expect next year and beyond? I have summed up my thoughts in my 22 for 2022 report. The ride, one hopes, will not be anywhere near as bumpy in 2022 as it was in 2020, but smart passengers will keep their seatbelts fastened.