What these 2021 Trends Mean for 2022

By Sam Mani

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to leave 2021 behind and jump into 2022. We may not be able to prepare for everything, but we can certainly take what we’ve learned with us.


2021 saw huge and exciting developments, from the vaccine rollout to the biggest year yet for renewable energy to the most diverse Oscars batch ever. But as 2022 begins, it’s hard not to wonder where to go from here. We may not know what the future will hold, but we certainly can look to the past for some answers.

Here are some of the biggest moments and trends from 2021, and what they’ll mean for the year to come.

Blockchain

This year, cryptocurrencies and blockchain at large went mainstream, and will no doubt continue to create headlines next year. From Elon Musk’s notorious appearance on SNL resulting in Dogecoin plummeting to, well, Elon Musk being Time’s Person of the Year, cryptocurrencies are more alluring than ever before.

In September, El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, with other countries, particularly in the developing world, set to follow suit next year. But, blockchain tech creates immense carbon dioxide emissions, so 2022 will hopefully see more progress for creating renewable and environmentally sustainable methods.

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are works of digital art that, through blockchain tech, are verifiably owned. They may prove to be more than the expensive gimmick some have chalked it up to be! With more musicians and gamers seeing the value of NFTs as well as institutional auction houses like Christie’s getting into the game, NFTs could be here to say.

Hybrid working (and vacationing)

With the Great Resignation in full swing, employers are understanding that after a year of working at home, maybe desk workers aren’t jumping at the chance to return to the office. 2022 will most likely see more flexibility from employers when it comes to working from home, especially in light of continuing Covid variants. This will compel tech companies to help make the hybrid model work more seamlessly, allowing the work to meet the employee where they’re at.

On the other hand, being able to work from anywhere means being able to work from any vacation spot. This is known as “flexcation,” and while it can be really nice to be able to manage if your vacation days couldn’t line up with your kids’ school holidays, blurring the boundaries between work and vacation can get out of hand. Be careful!

Sustainability

From fashion brands embracing regenerative agriculture and even resale to the increased popularity of plant-based diets, sustainability continued growing in popularity in 2021 — nearly two years after the global youth climate protests that forced countries around the world to reckon with the realities of climate change.

2022 will see consumers making more eco-friendly choices, but it will also see larger-scale impacts like companies opting for carbon offsetting and renewable energy becoming more affordable in general (even as materials for things like solar panels become more expensive due to the supply chain disruptions, but more on that later).

The SuPpLy ChAin!

This year’s headlines have been dominated by the specter of the supply chain. That is, the vast and complex networks of manufacturing and shipping that get the goods you want to you. These disruptions and “shortages,” which came from shifting consumer behavior throughout the pandemic, are not going to disappear in 2022.

Things may be unpredictable and take longer to arrive, but some experts think things will get better later on in 2022. In the meantime, the severity of the disruptions have meant that manufacturing, production, and shipping industries, as well as governments, are scrambling to create better, more efficient, supply chain systems.

Mental Wellness

The last nearly two years have been grueling, and the impact will be unpacked for years to come. Living through so much turmoil has led to an increased interest in mental wellness that will continue into 2022. From digital mental wellness resources to employers understanding the importance of emotional wellbeing, mental health is finally being seen as the vital part of overall health that it is.

Even though it will be easier to access mental health resources, it’s still work to create a regimen that works for you, so be sure to take the time to take care of yourself.

What does productivity mean?

If 2020 was the year of the forced stop, 2021 was certainly the year of the forced return. Our relationships with work suffered, as seen in the Great Resignation, but also in other ways. 2022 will most likely see us really reflecting on what our work means and what productivity really means. Is productivity simply output, or is it input as well? What kind of work do we really want to be doing anyway?

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to leave 2021 behind and jump into 2022. We may not be able to prepare for everything, but we can certainly take what we’ve learned with us.

About the author. 
Sam Mani writes about work, creativity, wellness, and equity — when she’s not cooking, binging television, or annoying her cat.