The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
The Ever-Changing Workplace
In ten years time, it is estimated that 60% of job titles will be previously unheard of. Such startling progress is just one symptom of a culture of change in the workplace: the past half-century has shown staggering changes in the who, how and where of employment. Smart companies and workers alike can benefit from understanding where today’s world of work emerged from – and where it’s heading.
For many of us, that direction leads homewards. Since the concept of ‘telecommuting’ came to public attention in the 1970s, there has been a growing migration from centralized workplaces to remote work stations, whether that be a home office, a laptop in a Wifi-enabled café, or outreach work in schools and communities. With half of the workforce expected to be freelancing by the year 2020, it’s no wonder employers are keen to free up expensive office space – and there is evidence that given more freedom, their workers can be more productive.
Those who still turn up at headquarters for their 9-5 shift will also have noticed big changes over the recent years, with typewriters giving way to desktop computers and eventually laptops, enabling ‘hot-desking’ and flexible, multi-purpose spaces to keep the atmosphere at work informal yet task-oriented. We may be working longer hours, but increased tolerance of workers completing personal tasks at work, and perks such as free fruit and healthy snacks, show a growing understanding of the need for happiness and health among the workforce.
Of course, it all starts with the job hunt, an area which is also no stranger to change. Newspaper ‘want-ads’ and printed CVs have given way to enormous online agencies and the ubiquitous LinkedIn profile, and there is evidence that bosses are now keener to employ on the basis of character rather than of technical qualifications: find the right personality for the team, and train them from there.
To stay ahead of the pack, check out this detailed new infographic which lays out the changes that we’ve seen – and will come to see – in the modern workplace.
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How The World of Work is Changing
The workplace of today looks dramatically different to that of a few decades ago. Social, technological, and environmental changes mean that the workplace has had to adapt to keep up with the times.
Here are just a few ways the world of work has, and still is, changing.
The Job Hunt
The internet has transformed how people search, network, and apply for jobs. The saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is now truer than ever, as referrals and networks play an increasingly important role in the search.
1973: Britain’s Labour Exchange, set up in 1910, renamed Jobcentres
1980s: Jobs were found using:
- Local newspapers
- Vacancy signs in shop windows
1994: Monster.com founded
1995: CareerBuilder launched
- LinkedIn celebrates 10 years with members with 225m members
- Video chat breaks down geographical boundaries and lets job seekers ‘attend’ more interviews
- ‘Hire for culture, train for skill’
- 25% of employers state that cultural fit is more important than skills
Today: It’s now commonplace to complete an online application or phone interview before a job hunter and recruiter meet in person
Today: Employer brand is an important tool for attracting the right talent – 80% of organisations consider their employer branding to be successful
Today: Employers can check candidates’ social media to screen hires, and job seekers can use social media to find jobs
- LinkedIn has developed an economic graph in which there is a vision to create economic opportunities for the world’s workforce
Roles at work
Market pressures and technological advances mean that roles and responsibilities in the office have changed too. Today, leaders are focused on aligning company mission, culture, and brand to engage customers and employees.
1980s: As computers take over typewriters, new roles and job titles, such as IT managers, are created
1980s – 2000s: The group of managers reporting directly to the CEO double from 5 to 10 positions
Some new management roles include:
- Chief Marketing Officer
- Chief R&D Officer
- Chief HR Officer
- Chief IT Officer
2004: DuPont becomes the first public company to have a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)
2005: Brands start using Forum Moderators – the first step in social media marketing
2010: Empowering employees is seen as becoming increasingly important, despite 82% of workers saying they haven’t established career goals with their supervisors
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2012: ‘Intrapreneurship‘ is on the rise – individuals who act like entrepreneurs while working at big companies
Today: Traditional hierarchical structures are changing to more flat/circular systems, allowing for more openness from management and input from all employees
There is now more generational diversity as Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y all work together
2020: It’s estimated that 50% of the workforce will be freelancing
As traditional gender roles break down, the workforce has slowly started to see a more balanced representation of genders in certain fields.
1970: UK introduces the Equal Pay Act – employers must give men and women equal treatement in terms of pay and conditions
1972: Katherine Graham becomes the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company
1977: Employees who believe men should earn more money and women should stay at home:
- 1977: 64%
- 2008: 39%
1996: Percentage of men and women who work around the world:
- 1996: 52% women, 80% men
- 2012: 50% women, 77% men
2010: In the UK, the State Pension Age for women increases
2012: The gender pay gap is 19.1%
2013: 20% of board members in the FTSE 250 are female
Future: It is believed emerging economies will be less bound to traditional hierarchies of today’s big companies
From suits and cubicles, to hoodies, and open plan offices. For certain sectors, the workplace has become a lot more relaxed.
1960s: The ‘office-landscape’, a type of open office-planning, is imagined by Eberhard and Wolfgang Schnelle
1968: Robert Propst designs the ‘cubicle’ office setup
1990s: ‘Coworking’ is first used to describe a physical working space unique from the corporate office
1997: A survey finds 93% of office cube dwellers would prefer a different workspace
2007: Smoking in enclosed work places is banned
2014: According to a SHRM survey, some perks that businesses offer are:
- 20% free snacks and beverages
- 4% electric vehicle charging stations
- <1% ‘Divorce insurance’
2015: Big organisations such as Apple, BBC, and Google adopt collaborative office designs where running into people and having chance meetings are more key than having a desk
Today: People are now working longer than they used to, with the average age of retirement rising
Technology has brought about plenty of changes in the office: from how things are communicated to how data is stored.
1966: Xerox sells the Telecopier – the first successful fax machine
1971: The computer floppy disc is invented
1980s: Typewriter desks disappear as PCs become the equipment of choice
1981: The laptop computer is introduced
1983: Time Magazine names the computer as “Man of the Year”
2003: First beta version of Skype is released
2012: iPhone and Android surpass BlackBerry in corporate sales
2013: 4m businesses and 97% of Fortune 500 companies use Dropbox
2014: Wearable devices, holography in virtual discussions and instant translation streaming are some tech advances that may shape tee office of tomorrow
2015: 60% of workers say they would leave their jobs if their employer restricted their ability to do personal tasks at work
2019: It’s estimated there will be 24bn deviced connected to the Internet of Things
Work Outside the Office
For some, technology has made it possible to work anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Companies who advocate teleworking say it cuts costs while allowing them to compete for wider talent pools.
Many employees juggle a work-life balance. Off the clock emails and quick calls to colleagues leave the boundaries between work and personal life blurred.
1973: ‘Telecommuting‘ comes into the public attention in the US
Late 90s-2000: Percentage of the UK workforce that are teleworkers:
- 1997: 4%
- 2005: 8.5%
- 2007: 8.9%
2013: Though Yahoo famously bans working from home research shows that giving workers flexibility allows for greater productivity and happier employees
2013: oDesk and Elance merge to have a combined 8m freelancers and 2.5m businesses
2022: Outsourcing or contracting work will be on the rise: according to a PwC report, 20% of the workforce will be made up by contractors and temp workers
Many jobs being filled today didn’t exist 20 years ago – and it’s expected that in 10 years time, 60% of jobs will be completely new for their time.
How will your role look to future generations?