The world of work is different than it was 20, 10, even five years ago—and not just because of the recession. Digital advances and expectations from a new generation of workers have shifted the way we produce and collaborate, transforming the workplace and with it, our lives.
Here are six ways the workplace is changing:
1. Flexibility abounds. Both in terms of when you work and where you work, more companies are offering—and more employees are asking for—workplace flexibility. Because the workplace has gone digital, employees based in an office can often take their work on the road, which provides opportunities to live closer to family, relocate to a new city, travel, or simply work from home in your pajamas. The question is whether your employer embraces this new trend.
If they don't, our blogger Andrew Rosen explains why your boss might want you in the office in The Truth About the Remote-Work Trend.
2. More people are working for themselves. Entrepreneurship is hot, partly because startups like Facebook have gained notoriety, and partly because the recession left some workers with no other option. More people became self-employed in 2010 than during each of the past 15 years, according to a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a think tank that focuses on entrepreneurship. But most entrepreneurs work on their own, without hiring other workers, which means they're not creating a significant number of jobs for the economy.
Thinking about becoming self-employed? Read Why New Graduates Should Consider Entrepreneurship. Or consider starting up your side biz while you're still working a full-time job: And On the Side, I'm an Entrepreneur.
3. Not sticking with one job for a lifetime. Unlike their grandparents and even parents, Millennials aren't likely to stay with one employer for their entire career. In fact, by the time they hit 30, some GenY workers already have experience with several companies under their belt. That means companies have to work harder to retain young workers, often offering lifestyle perks that weren't on the table years ago. And for workers, it means more flexibility; you no longer have to stick it out at a job for three years if the company's not right for you.
To learn how to make this trend work for you, check out How to Be a Smart Job-Hopper.
4. Work-life balance is a priority. Maybe because GenY watched their parents work their lives away, the workplace's newer employees want time to develop their personal lives and interests outside of work. They also want work itself to be fulfilling, not just a paycheck. Employers trying to compete for talent are meeting these demands in creative ways, offering at-work perks like food and laundry service or giving workers the option of a sabbatical.
If your company doesn't offer the lifestyle you're looking for, consider the employers on this list of Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance. And here's a great list of Workplace Perks for New Parents.
5. Personal branding is all the rage. Online branding of individuals is affecting industries across the board, as well as the job-search process. Making a name for yourself is smarter than ever in this volatile economy, increasing your chances that someone who knows of you will come to you with a job rather than you having to look for one when you need it. Especially since the newest generation of workers tend to hop from one company to another, it makes sense to brand yourself rather than (or in addition to) your employer.