The corporate world is changing. More and more people are embracing the possibilities of flexi-time, remote work, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. Automation and digital transformation have been central in the explosion of new work models and the recent shift in people’s attitudes. Technologies like AI and robotics are transforming the world of work — and we’re only just getting started. Here are some exciting trends to look out for as we are about to enter another year at work…
Flexible working hours become normalised
Many companies now offer flexible working hours as standard. The ability to arrive at work between certain hours in the morning — and leave earlier or later — means that the workplace has lost some of its rigidity.
Flexible work schedules take into account the possibility of working from home and introduce work patterns that help workers avoid traffic, see their kids more and so on. In many large cosmopolitan areas like London, flexible working can actually lead to less pollution and congestion on the roads.
So, how is flexibility changing the way we work?
1. Flexibility will increasingly become a standard across all industries — cascading from the creative industries into more corporate environments.
2. People will actively seek companies who embrace flexible working, and companies who don’t offer flexible working hours will be seen as increasingly ‘rigid’. Millennial employees particularly value freedom and flexibility at work, and will rebel against old-school formality.
3. The old 9-to-5 customer service model will be replaced by a 24/7 one. The latter will leverage automation and AI to cover bases when staff are not physically available.
Remote working is here to stay
Imagine this: a team that never meet face to face, get together at an annual networking event. Sounds crazy? Well, it’s a model that’s been recently proven by digital and tech companies… and there is no reason why others wouldn’t follow soon.
The strategic & commercial benefits of remote working have been brought to the forefront by a few voices and companies paving the way. Matthew Barby from HubSpot frequently shares his remote team challenges and triumphs, and other leaders in tech have been equally open about their use of virtual teams.
The beauty of making your workforce virtual is that you are not constrained by borders and visas; the remote model tends to work well for multinationals and international companies. Improved teleconferencing facilities have put old remote working objections to bed, but there is still a reluctance to hire virtual teams in some industries.
Remote working allows for more diverse teams, but fostering a cohesive team culture across continents is challenging. Employee engagement challenges will be met by technological solutions like intranets and team comms tools like Slack.
Sidestep into your own side hustle
The idea that there is more than 9-to-5 in life is on the rise as more people are taking to a lucrative side hustle.
The concept of a side hustle can be likened to a passion project or money spinner — a professional sideline that helps you develop and grow. Side hustles are often borne out of a hobby or interest, but they could equally take the form of speculative investment or re-selling wholesale goods. The beauty of a side hustle is that you can make it entirely yours. There are no rules and no expectations. This often becomes a fertile breeding ground for innovation.
The freelance and gig economy is blossoming — but there are some concerns over companies like Uber taking advantage of contractor and subcontractor legislation. Just make sure that the financials of your ‘side hustle’ check out, and that you aren’t sitting around waiting for work more than you’re actually working.
Going freelance is something I tried myself — freelancing is a great way to build up flexible income, explore your own strengths, and potentially pivot your career in a controlled and safe manner.
The drawbacks of freelancing include having to manage your own financial destiny (and the tax implications), as well as the challenges of juggling client management, sales, and everything else, by yourself. It’s easy to procrastinate and over-service clients as a freelancer, so you need to have strict boundaries.
Read some freelancer survival tips here.
Run your own business
In the UK, there are more and more entrepreneurs and groups supporting entrepreneurship; initiatives like Enterprise Nation are keen to promote, support, and develop Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit and champion new businesses.
If you are looking to run a business yourself, going fully digital may allow you more flexibility than traditional bricks and mortar operation. Look into the different avenues of digital entrepreneurship, and research online business marketplaces to get a feel for what your money can buy you. You may be surprised what you can afford!
Use automation and virtual staff to help you scale and grow your business to see whether it is something you want to commit to 100%. Once you make the plunge, there is no going back.
Attitudes are changing
Much has been written about the ‘millennial employee’, but the reams of copy do have a point. The next generation of workers is unlike any other we have seen before — and they don’t value, or expect, stability in quite the same way. In fact, work patterns and trajectories are becoming more fluid and diverse — and companies need to embrace that in the way that they hire, retain, and develop talent.
And you? What do you think the employment landscape will look like in 2018?