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5 Emerging Trends in the New World of Work

5 Emerging Trends in the New World of Work inploi Team | 26.05.2016

The world of work is changing, and at a pace few could have imagined before the advent of what is often referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” [1]. This revolution is driven by the profound impact of digital technology upon society, making its weight felt in every aspect of human existence. You may be familiar with Annie Dillard’s timeless line “How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.”

We spend so much time at work - shifts in our working habits impact on our lives in ways we could not have imagined only a decade ago. This article explores emerging trends in the “new world of work”, touching on aspects of the ‘sharing’ and ‘gig’ economy and the growth of co-working spaces. These are set to (and in many ways already are) dramatically impacting the future of work.

1. Freelancing and the gig economy

The cost of the tools required for self-employment have decreased exponentially. Cheaper notebooks, the proliferation of mobile devices with connectivity, and increased access to free wi-fi have empowered people work anywhere and at any time. Graphic & web designers, photographers, accountants and social media managers (amongst many others) can now work from nearly anywhere. According to a study by the Score Association, 34% of the US workforce now consists of freelance workers, with 77% “believing that the best days of the freelance job market are still ahead”. [2] This increased connectivity (and the emergence of platforms that enable it) has also enabled freelancers to sell their skills all over the world.

2. The growth of co-working spaces

One of the challenges of working as a freelancer is the potential for a lack of human interaction in one’s work environment, making working a lonely occupation. Co-working spaces solve this problem through providing innovative eco-systems for collaboration, networking and socialising. Latest reports indicate that satisfaction levels of freelancers at co-working spaces are as high as 89% [3]. Businesses in the early stages of development often lack networks. Through working together in a shared space, the possibility to capitalise on synergies exists. Small businesses in the same or even different industries can more easily share customers or even decide to merge their respective businesses.

3. Value of degrees are decreasing in certain industries

The proliferation of good quality content (often free) on the internet has given every individual with a connected device  the ability to upskill themselves and expand their areas of expertise. Through massive open online courses (MOOC’s) and other free training resources education is more accessible than ever. Although a formal qualification is critical in certain industries such as the academic and medical professions, people can build a reputation through recommendations – in which case potential customers may look beyond the lack of a formal qualification. Through personal branding and marketing, people can position themselves as experts in their field emphasising their experience, without necessarily needing the paperwork of a formal degree. Synthesizing available information and the ability to apply knowledge, will be skills that will increasingly be highly regarded amongst employers.

4. Personal branding

The low cost of registering a domain and ease of hosting and creating a blog or website make it easy for anyone to build his or her brand. Personal branding shouldn’t be confused with self-promotion, although there is an overlap. The key of personal branding is the promotion of an authentic identity, with your various skills and experiences being displayed on a particular platform in an honest and transparent manner. Where a potential jobseeker only had a CV and a chance in an interview to prove him or herself, an online portfolio and consistent contribution to and engagement with trends/current affairs can show potential employers a lot more in terms of determining whether someone is a potential ‘fit’ for an organisation. For employees to stay ahead in the job market social media channels (especially when privacy settings are low) also need to be seen as platforms for personal branding as recruiters often screen social media accounts prior or after an interview.

5. Advent of the Sharing Economy

Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Taskrabbit. The list grows by the day. The sharing economy puts power in the hands of the everyman, allowing “ordinary individuals” to offer their goods and services in a virtual marketplace – through an “intermediary” which manages the buyer/seller relationship. The sharing economy is expanding rapidly, leaving very few industries untouched. In the sharing economy building a reputation is very important, as strangers will only trust those people who receive positive reviews by clients. inploi, a new entrant to the sharing economy, will be launching its operations in June 2016 intending to disrupt the UK hospitality recruitment industry. As an end-to-end platform to connect jobseekers and employers, the platform also taps into the growing gig economy as the jobs in the hospitality sector are often short-term.

The world of work is changing rapidly, and organisations need to adapt to retain the skills of a growing number of people interested in freelancing. Although tough economic conditions are also encouraging growth in the sector, workers demand more flexibility from ‘fixed’ work models that often stifle creativity, innovation and an adequate work-life balance. With the freelancing movement set to overtake employment in the UK public sector, this may become a political force to be reckoned with [4]. With half of UK freelancers indicating that they will never return to a 9-5 workday [5], industry and government need to be accommodative of the needs of a generation of workers set who are set to overhaul what we understand to be ‘business as usual’.

Interested in hearing business tips from some of the world's top entrepreneurs? Check out this post: A quick digest from the US of A

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