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Global business trends – where are they now?

We reflect on the business trends we predicted back in January 2024.

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In January, we used our then-27 (now-28) years of expert knowledge of the global HR landscape, to predict the key global business trends for 2024. We’re now halfway through the year, so we thought it was time to check back in and see what’s happening with our predicted trends six months on…

Returning to the office

At the start of the year, we noted the cross-industry push for employees to return to the office, with CNBC reporting that 90% of companies expect a return to office by the end of 2024. We predicted that this year would see the fall of the fully remote working model.

Were we correct? Yes!

Six months on, it looks like we were on the right track. The Guardian reports that in the UK, lawyers and HR experts are forecasting an increase in employment tribunal cases.

Why? More and more organisations are clamping down on working from home, and workers feel disrespected at the lack of flexibility being extended to them, after readjusting their lives and routines to remote working.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the number of high-paying remote jobs is dwindling. USA Today notes that research by Ladders, which evaluated over half a million job postings from the past year, found that remote jobs paying at least $250,000 annually have fallen by 95% and hybrid jobs offering the same remuneration are down 60%.

AI ubiquity

In January, we highlighted that AI technology has taken the world of work by storm, and predicted that it would continue to rapidly evolve, faster than regulatory legislation could keep up with.

Were we correct? Yes!

Today, AI is still top of mind for business leaders. In Ireland, RTE reports that Generative AI could boost the Irish economy by 40 to 45 billion EUR in the next 10 years. Elsewhere, Meta’s plans to train its AI based on user data have been met with mixed responses – with many European users opting out of sharing their data for this purpose, under GDPR laws. US users’ inability to choose not to have their data used in this way is raising questions about the ethics of data usage in AI.

In the US, CNN notes that Lina Khan, Chair of the Financial Trade Commission (FTC), has warned of the potential for AI to “turbocharge” financial fraud. The FTC has been persistent with its warnings that “businesses can be held liable for making misleading claims about their AI tools or for covertly using consumer data to train AI models.”

Nurturing soft skills

With the unstoppable rise of AI, we predicted that in 2024, employers would increase the time and resources allocated to nurturing soft skills. Skills such as communication, problem solving, leaderships, creativity, teamwork, critical reasoning, and strategising were highlighted by Forbes as crucial areas of investment.

Were we correct? Yes! reports that in analysing job posts, the Stepstone Group noted a staggering 190% increase in emphasis on soft skills between 2019 and 2023. Encouraged by research proving that the UK loses 2.2 billion GBP each year by failing to invest in soft skills, companies are increasingly placing emphasis on soft skills development.

As AI continues to grow in popularity, business leaders are anxious to retain the ‘human’ element of work, while 92% of workers are also in tune with the vital role that soft skills play in a healthy, successful, and productive working environment.


As climate awareness and sustainability become crucial considerations for individuals and organisations alike, sustainability initiatives such as cutting carbon emissions, have become must-haves for businesses. As a result, at the start of the year, we predicted the continuation of corporate commitment to sustainability.

Were we correct? Yes!

92% of consumers now consider sustainability when selecting to support a business. Commitment to reducing environmental impact and waste is something consumers have come to expect of organisations; becoming more than a trend, and instead comprising a key tenant of responsible business leadership.

In May 2024, UNESCO was in attendance at the second Qatar CSR Summit, under the theme ‘The Future of CSR in a Circular Economy’. The event saw discussion of socially responsible business practices and sustainability issues, “showcasing its commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through integrating environmental, economic, and social goals into business models.”

The European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) has expanded the scope of required reporting, meaning that more companies must submit details regarding their sustainability contributions. According to The Global Treasurer, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is making progress towards the implementation of “a global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards, focusing on the needs of investors.”


Committing to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) in the workplace is a key consideration for today’s business leaders, which is why we predicted renewed and continued dedication to ED&I policies and directives in 2024.

Were we correct? Yes!

ED&I initiatives have continued to thrive across the board in 2024 and remain to be an important consideration for businesses.

A number of organisations - including the United Nations Development Programme, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand, Sasin School of Management, and Workplace Pride – developed a toolkit, promoting inclusion in Thai businesses.

Meanwhile, the UK Government released a report aiming to end ineffective business ED&I practices and “empower employers to make fairer, more effective ED&I decisions that represent proper value for money.”

The global business landscape is ever-changing. If you need support with your global workforce from a dedicated team of experts with over 28 years’ experience, contact Mauve Group today.

Our suite of HR services and friendly team of HR professionals can help to ensure you get the most out of your international business.