From Pokémon Go To Donald Trump, very little of 2016 felt predictable. Yet, even in that chaos, there were still trends --while companies, politics and pop stars change with the wind, trends remain eternal, twisting effervescently in the breeze.

Here's a solid five predictions for what's going to be big, trendwise, in 2017!

1. Brick and Mortars (or anything) that offer something!

Amazon didn't kill main street, despite still doing its best to thin it out. Borders went ages ago and Barnes & Noble is soon about to politely bow out, wine and dining-options be damned. But it's not just books that are suffering: Target's seen some serious losses this year and there were even whispers, earlier this year, that the behemoth that practically invented the contemporary big-box experience, Walmart, might have already seen its best days. What's surviving: Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, the corner indie bookstore. Why?

The other day, working a holiday shift at a nameless big-box store, an old woman asked me what I could recommend as a gift for her teenage daughter. Perhaps she spotted my hip and generational cool. Regardless, I told her to get herself to an Urban Outfitters and listen to what they told her. From music streaming services to direct retail, the one word that everyone is yelling in this age of information-overload is curation. Stitch Fix, for instance, gets it: it's a service that will literally put an outfit together based on the algorithms that you represent and sell it to you. Now that's cash: Stitch Fix brought in $250 million of revenue last year. Invest in places that are offering something you can't get on Amazon; in 2017 they're going to soar.

2. Pot!

Will 2017 be the year Mary Jane becomes Everyday Jane? Forbes seems to think so, with Debra Borchardt, the magazine's self-described "retail and cannabis" expert, predicting, among other things, that the popular drug will inspire at least one network television show and at least one major league sports team to come behind the popular drug in the coming year. Personally, my money is on NASCAR. But maybe Lou Williams will be the one sporting a spliff, since Adam Bierman, of the cannabis investment firm MadMen, predicts that LA will become the "the marijuana capital of the world." Bierman estimates that LA's medicinal cannabis market is already worth somewhere near $1 billion and with California, having passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational use of weed, back in November, expect that green to flow.

3. Apps!

Apps, apps and more apps! Remember when the coolest thing was to be investing money in somebody's idea for an app, finding the engineers in Belarus, and pouring champagne over your empire in the morning? Come 2017, it will be the most profitable thing: "Even Your Grandma Will Use Grubhub," is Fortune's line on the matter and they're not just talking about the single-tap food delivery empire whose active user base grew by 19% in 2016. Fortune also predicts that Slack, the workplace chat app that slipped into 2016 and replaced every workplace conversation ever, will get a major purchase offer by one of the big tech giants. It's time for all those smart investments to make some serious bank.

4. Investing young!

Among many other things, 2016 will also be remembered as the year that the millennials took over, literally. A few months back, Pew Research confirmed this: "Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation's largest living generation," per the latest census data. Ian Altman, among the old people of Forbes, knows what this means: "Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives." What will this mean, besides giving any spare cash you have to the nearest person younger than you? Businesses associated with the aged will be in or are already in decline: health care, car sales. Where's the money: ZipCar, Uber (see: apps!) and companies with young leadership--like Stefan Larsson, of Ralph Lauren, who's barely in his forties, or even someone like Sean Kelly, 29, who founded a brand of vending machines that specialized in health products or Aaron Bell, who started out as a developer for Microsoft at the age of 15 and now runs an advertisement retargeting software company that's worth over $34 million. Keep an eye out for them.

5. VR!

Just this November, Sony's Playstation launched its first VR interface to massive success, followed quickly by Google's Daydream View which is set to generate millions for their parent company in 2017. But even before those platforms took command of the zeitgeist, the absurd and sudden popularity of a game like Pokemon Go showed how much interest there was in using something as basic as an app to augment everyday reality into a social and capitalizable experience. And Google's quick foray into the field suggests that VR developers have goals greater than video games. Daryl Plummer, Chief of Research at Gartner, a technology research company, goes long: "by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality," he told Forbes. What's in store for the year ahead? Plummer predicts that at least one global brand will be using some augmented reality platform for sales by the end of the year. They will probably deserve your money.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

Keep reading Show less

Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

Keep reading Show less