Work is not what it used to be. Changes in technology, the global economy, and demographics are creating massive shifts in the workplace. Many businesses, unfortunately, are operating as though it was still the 20th century. In order to thrive in the coming years, it's essential to understand and get ahead of the transformations impacting every facet of work. Let's look at the biggest changes along with some guidelines on how to prepare for them.
Many of the biggest workplace changes are made possible by technology. One of the most far-reaching effects of technology is that people are increasingly freed from the limits of geography.
The internet, WiFi, social media, and smartphones made it simple to communicate instantly across the planet. As a result, it is nowpractical for employees to work remotely from anywhere. Global Workplace Analytics reports that remote work has increased by 173% since 2005. This doesn't even include the self-employed, many of whom work as freelancers in the gig economy. From 2017 to 2019 alone, the number of businesses using freelancers increased by 24%.
When it comes to remote work, both by employees and freelancers, this is only the beginning of an explosive trend. Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics estimates that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least 5 days per month. There are many advantages to remote work, both from the point of view of employees (or contractors) and businesses.
The amount of information available is exponentially greater than just a few years ago. Back in 2013, IBM revealed the startling fact that 90% of the data in the world had been created in the last 2 years. Since then, the proliferation of data has sped up even more. This has forced analysts to keep changing the units by which they measure data. We've gone from megabytes (MB) to gigabytes (GB), to terabytes (TB) and beyond. The IDC estimates that by 2025 the amount of global data will be 163 zettabytes (a zettabyte = 1 billion TB)!
Of course, big data brings with it certain challenges. Most importantly, researchers must be able to sift through all this information and identify what's relevant and actionable. The data revolution is creating a lot more work for businesses of all types and sizes. The consequences of big data include:
Just as technology is driving many changes in how the workplace functions, so are shifting demographics. Younger generations that grew up in the digital age have expectations and preferences that are quite different from those of their parents' generations.
According to Pew Research, millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1996 while Generation Z is made up of people born between 1997 and 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. They, along with Generation Z (those born in the late 1990s to around 2012)) are clearly the future of the workplace. Here are some of the ways these emerging generations are transforming work:
While it's worth noting how the millennial and Generation Z generations are driving many technological and workplace changes, it would be a mistake to conclude that it's only younger people who are affected. Members of Generation X and Baby Boomers are also quickly adapting to the latest technology and workplace trends.
While we often think of young people learning from their elders, the reverse is also very common with cultural trends and technological innovation. For example, Facebook was once where the young and hip congregated. Now, it's the social media platform favored by middle-aged and older users while younger users are gravitating to Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Smartphones were first widely used by the young. Today, however, 96% of Americans use cell phones. Similarly, all age groups are participating in trends such as remote work, freelancing, and the gig economy. In sum, even if the younger generations are leading the way, workplace changes are affecting everyone.
The workplace is rapidly changing and businesses need to adapt and lead the way if they want to stay competitive. One way to stay current with the very latest workplace changes is by attending the Corporate Innovation Summit, which takes place April 1st-3rd, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. With workshops, hands-on training, and executive leadership training, your mindset will evolve to help your organization thrive as the workplace transforms in the coming years.