Sometimes changes at work can be something that comes over time, a gradual alteration in the way that we all work, perhaps as technology changes the work environment in subtle ways. Other times it can be a more abrupt and sudden change – something that seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly becomes a major change to our working lives. So what changes have affected us in 2016 so far, and what looks set to continue that change as the year progresses?
Perhaps one of the major changes to working life in 2016 has been the steady growth of flexible working, both the desire for it coming from workers and the realisation of benefits from it for employers. Once upon a time flexible working meant that you never knew what your shift was going to be from one week to another, or that your employer could ‘ask’ you to work different hours to your previously agreed ones. But the modern concept is flexible working is much more, well, flexible!
One of the biggest areas of growth in flexible working has been the ability to work from home. Cloud systems and high speed internet connections to domestic properties have meant that working from home for a company as a remote worker using a personal laptop or desktop computer is no longer a problem. Many companies are seeing the benefits to staff working from home, enabling them to work the hours that suits them and leading to greater productivity as a result. Gone are the days where the working hours had to be just nine to five in a company office, and involved extra time with commuting to and from the office each day.
Mobile technology is another progressive area that has helped the flexible working revolution take off, meaning staff can work on location, with clients at their premises, and at different company offices as well as from home. In fact, some businesses no longer have offices in the traditional sense and allow their employees to work independently from a variety of locations. This can save money as well as increase productivity.
We mentioned the cloud and how it is instrumental in the ability for businesses to work in a flexible manner. Cloud services are also saving businesses money – no longer is the big, awkward permanent server required on site at the company premises, along with expensive maintenance calls and lots of additional security needed on site. By utilising cloud storage, businesses can now use their old server space for other functions or even downsize their property to something more cost-effective for their needs, while getting the very best, most secure storage for all their data.
The cloud also helps working groups to increase their productivity through the sharing of ideas in an instant and through more effective collaboration with other team members. For businesses where working together works best, this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to live in the same town – or even the same country – because cloud services can connect them all together regardless of their location.
Social media is one of those technological changes that has washed over quietly and gently in some respects for some workers, but quite suddenly with a big impact for others. Utilising social media in everything from understanding their customers to researching potential candidates is now normal practice for most modern businesses around the world. In fact, most savvy and up to date businesses dedicate time and resources exclusively to their social media presence, reaching out and meeting their customers where they like to be the most and creating that personal touch that is the big thing in successful marketing strategies today.
The changing face of workers
A number of changes to the workforce in the average business has become more prominent this year. Firstly, there is the rise of the so-called millennials, the next generation of workers with a very different outlook on their working life than their previous generation. Secondly, there is the growth of freelancers, self-employed people who work for a company on a specific project or for a certain time frame then on completion will move off to other ventures for different clients.
The millennials and the challenges they bring is a change to the workforce that will last for some time to come. These younger workers have grown up not expecting to simply walk into a job, even after university, due to high youth unemployment levels and the lack of a stable job market. They also have a big focus on the work life balance they want to achieve as well as working for a company that is trying to do something, not merely just make money.
Freelancers have been around for a long time in one form or another but cloud services, flexible working and the growth of people wanting to be self-employed has seen them come to the fore this year more than ever before. Need a blog writing but no-one within the organisation has the skills to do it? Hire a freelancer. Need a new marketing strategy or a new technology implemented? Get a freelancer in for that specific project. The cost savings for businesses long term as well as the chance to access the best new talent makes freelancers an ideal option.
Perhaps the greatest change is the one we don’t know about yet – the latest new technology that will revolutionise our workplace. With cloud tech, smartphones, tablets, remote working and even high speed internet connections, new technology has already changed our working lives. So we wait to see what the next new revolutionary product or idea will be and how we will once more have to change our working lives to accommodate it.
With giant corporations such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon now worth over $1 Trillion on the world market, yet managing to successfully run their operations with just over 150,000 jobs combined, maybe the future will be a time to reassess the world of work and our places within it.