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2017’s Ever-Changing Blended Workplace

Everyone knows that 2017 is going to continue to astound us with continued developments in technology.  You can see these changes everywhere you look.  Advances in artificial intelligence, medicine, and wearable devices.  These advances are wonderful for us all, but has anyone given much thought as to how all these advances in technology are shaping our executives and workplaces?

I was talking with a couple of friends about the fact that Millennials are now at the age where they are getting promoted to management and executive roles.  Now these are people who were young teens when the technology boom hit.  They were raised with laptops, and cellphones, and they are not fans of the traditional 9-5 workday.  They saw their parents embracing mobile technologies as they logged on to their laptops at nine at night to get “caught up” on sorting through their stuffed inboxes.

They understand that while the recent advances in technology has extreme benefits, they also know that they are worries of being trapped into the demands of a 24 and 7 work week.  As these Millennials start making changes to the traditional workplace we can expect to see more of a non-traditional workplace.

Here are some of the top trends that you can expect to see if you are looking to change, or start, a career in 2017.

  1. Flexible hours and Working Remote: In the early 2000’s it was almost mandated at a company that I was working at to get online around nine at night and clean out your email box. This meant that the traditional 7.5-hour work day was looking a little more like a 10-11-hour day. Millennial’s who are now management are implementing flexible work schedules to accommodate a better work/life balance.  Flex days, and working from home, are becoming more and more common to promote enhanced maternity/paternity and family benefits. The overall theory that I have read about is that a decreased work week equates to more productivity during the hours that are actual worked as the employee is not as fatigued.  Working less hours per week to be more productive.
  2. Blended Workforces: The rise of the freelancer is upon us. More and more companies are choosing to reduce their overhead by keeping fulltime employees to a minimum and are hiring more freelancers and contractors. Contract employees can be added to the team as the work requires.  What this is doing for companies is giving them employees for a limited period who wants to work hard on a project and then depart for the next project when their contract is up. No social costs, medical costs, or tax issues.  The freelancers / contractors are loving this concept as they can truly control their work/life balance.  They work hard when they want to, and take time off when they want to.
  3. Virtualized workforces: With the invention of collaboration platforms like Slack and Teamwork, technology driven business’ no longer reliant on a local workforce to create digital or software based projects happen. Companies who produce software, cloud-based solutions, or web sites, can employ talented contract employees from all over the globe to work on their projects.  Slack and Teamwork enable constant communication between project managers and developers to keep projects from missing critical milestones.  As the work is project based the contractors assigned to it are free to complete the work whenever they want during the day.  The only timetable that must be met is the one set by the project managers.  If the work gets done between the hours of 7 pm and 3 am, then that is when it happens.
  4. Performance Reviews become Project Feedback Sessions: In the past employees were used to quarterly and yearly performance reviews to determine professional development plans, wage increases, and promotions. In the age of the Millennials and Generation Z where the trend of instant information gratification reigns supreme; a more frequent schedule of feedback needs to be adopted.  Employers are holding job performance appraisals more frequently to ensure that a constant flow of information as to employee/ contractor performance is provided.  This provides employers with the ability to reward exceptional performance quickly, and correct performance that is going to far off track.

2017 will no doubt continue to be a year of advances.  The workplace continues to evolve into not a place where someone goes to work, but more toward hours and moments when someone works.  Physical location is no longer a limiting factor as to where you can be employed.  It now comes down to what skills someone possesses and how they can manage their own time, and projects.  Contractors and freelancers are increasing in numbers, and are at no loss for opportunities to work when they want to, how they want to, and wherever they can get an internet connection.

That person at Starbucks who is sipping a vente latte while working on their laptop may not just be surfing the internet. They may be writing code for a subroutine for the first manned mission to Mars. These days you just never know who is working when.

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