The world of work in the second decade of the 21st century is almost unrecognizable from the world of work in the final decade of the 20th century. Step into an office in the early 1990s, and you’d be greeted with no internet, huge filing cabinets everywhere, mobile phones the size of a brick and some very questionable fashionable.
So much has altered in just 20 years and the pace of change shows no signs of abating. Technology in part drives that, but so too does lifestyle, rules and regulations and the world around us.
The big question then is what will our working lives look like in two decades from now? Here’s what might be on the cards and how your small business can adjust to an ever-changing world.
The nine to five day will be no more
Poor old Dolly Parton. She became famous singing about the rigors of working nine ‘til five, but in the future traditional working hours won’t exist anymore as flexible hours become more and more popular with companies around the globe.
You can easily see the appeal. Some people are early birds and at their most productive in the morning. Others are night owls who get more done later in the day. Why then do we treat everybody the same and expect them to work from 9 am until 5 pm, when their productivity could dip for half the day depending on which of those categories they fit in?
Flexible work hours allow workers to be at the job when they are at their sharpest, be it a 7 am to 3 pm shift or an 11 am to 9 pm stint. If you want to maximize the output of your workforce, then getting rid of the nine to five day is one way to do it – and it’s an arrangement that is sure to become more commonplace in the future.
Mixed use properties could transform our work routine
Commuting proves to be the bane of many American’s lives, and it isn’t hard to see why. According to studies, the average American spends 26.1 minutes on a one-way journey to work. That’s 52.2 minutes per day, 4.35 hours in a five-day working week and over 200 hours over the entire year. Nearly nine whole days spent commuting.
Having to complete such an arduous journey from suburbs to workplace could become a thing of the past thanks to the boom in mixed use properties. There was a rapid increase in construction of buildings which share retail space with office space and residential living in 2018, and the popularity of such developments shows no sign of abating in 2019.
The world we live in means every person wants convenience, and there is nothing more convenient than being able to leave your front door five minutes before you are due to work. That’s why both businesses and individuals are so keen to move into mixed use properties, as you can click here for more info about.
If your business is looking to relocate, then taking it into a development where your workforce can live literally on the doorstep puts it at the heart of the community and makes it an attractive proposition for prospective employees as they wave goodbye to all that commuting time.
Working from anywhere will become a possibility
Mixed use properties aren’t the only answer to solving the commuting question. The development in WiFi technology means that for some employees, virtually any public space can become their office. From coffee shops to libraries, airports to bars, you can effectively work anywhere as long as it has a chair and an internet connection. You could even email off a report using the WiFi on Mount Fuji or share a spreadsheet from over 20 different national parks in Canada if you wanted.
The benefits to businesses of this new connectivity are apparent. In the past, a snowstorm might have shut your offices for a week as your employees were unable to come into work. Now, they can simply work from home.
It also greatly expands the quantity and quality of people who you can bring into your employment. Your business might be based in Maine and the ideal candidate for a role you are advertising lives in California. Whereas in the past that would prohibit them from joining your business, the fact you will be able to work from anywhere means distance is no longer a barrier to hiring the best people for your company.
Work will become increasingly social
As we become more and more connected through the internet and social media, so the line between work and our social lives becomes blurred. With an entire workforce who are Facebook friends or Instagram followers of Steve from accounts, what would have previously been a private weekend involving just him and his family now has the potential to be seen by all of his fellow employees.
That means that coworkers become more like friends. This can be both beneficial and dangerous. A more social workforce can lead to better collaboration, an increased shared desire to do a good job for the sake of the team and ultimately better productivity.
Yet, people also need a life away from work. If their social circle extends no further than those that they already see on a day-to-day basis in the office, then they’ll burn out. Employees need downtime when they don’t see the same faces that remind them of work and they need to have interests away from the business so that they don’t become bored with it.
With a more social workforce, the necessary work-life balance every employee needs can be hard to maintain. As a business owner, you’ll need to help by setting boundaries. Ensure that all your employees are getting a good amount of downtime. That is especially important when it comes to holidays and vacations when they should be on a complete blackout from work-related matters. Giving them a suitable break from work to boost their long term productivity will become ever more critical in the future.