The Future of Work

By 2020, the workplace will focus on independence.

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In the cartoon The Jetsons, the future of work involved video conference calls and robot employees. While only half that formula has come true, we continue to evolve in the workplace. According to MBO Partners, a company that connects independent workers with employers, the future will focus on independence.

[See our Best Jobs of 2012.]

A Break From the 9 to 5

In an infographic, MBO Partners estimates that more than half of the private workforce will work for themselves by 2020. That seems aspirational, but with the barriers to starting your own business lower than ever, more people are gravitating toward becoming business owners.

My Two Cents: If you're considering entrepreneurship, already having some financial comfort definitely helps focusing your energy on the new business. Have a plan in place and some savings to get you through the start-up challenges. Depending on your field, you might even be able to continue to work full- or part-time while you start your new venture. But don't burn bridges! You never know where your business may lead you. It might even lead you back to your former employer.

A Need for Experts at Any Age

Good news for the over-55 set: companies recognize that you know your stuff, and they are willing to invest in your talent. Rather than your age being a deterrent (you cost more; retirement is close), wear it as a badge. The better you know your industry, the better your hiring chances.

No matter your age, focus on diving deeper into your field until you feel you are an industry expert. Your knowledge will be your selling point in any job interview.

My Two Cents: If you're age 55 or older and looking for a position that allows you to show off your knowledge, consider working with a senior recruiter who can find you an appropriate role.

[See Do You Need a Career Coach?]

Building a Virtual Workforce

Those lingering doubts about telecommuting will vanish as employers realize the value and cost-savings of hiring talented workers, regardless of location. With more of the Fortune 500 joining the virtual bandwagon, other companies will soon follow suit.

Why Go Virtual?

Companies save on rent, utilities, and equipment costs when they allow employees to work virtually. Employers also open up the talent pool when they look beyond their geographical limitations. And being able to hire anyone without the cost of relocation is pretty appealing.

My Two Cents: If you want to work from home, make a compelling case to your employer about what benefits it will provide. If you can demonstrate that you have the set up to allow you to easily telecommute, and that it will save them money while making you more efficient, it should be an easier sell.

[See Employers: Make Telecommuting Work for Your Company.]

The Fed Will Crack Down on Taxes

According to MBO Partners, it will continue to get harder to slip through the cracks on tax issues. Uncle Sam is taking a hard approach to getting the money out of your wallet. Tax laws change from year to year.

My Two Cents: If you have an out-of-the-ordinary tax situation, such as you lived and worked in more than one state last year, you live overseas, or you are self-employed, then talk to an accountant to ensure your taxes are done properly. Always keep your tax documents for the past several years in a safe place, and keep track of work-related expenses. Applications like Shoeboxed, for digitally capturing receipts, or LessAccounting, for easy tracking without all the bells and whistles, may help.

Where We're Headed

Making predictions about the future is always fun. While some of them are obvious, there are always surprises awaiting us around the bend. Technology and flexibility are sure to continuously bring us new opportunities in the workplace.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

Twitter: @PRJobs

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corporate culture

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