Throughout the job market and throughout industries certain patterns are emerging in 2015. Companies are utilizing employees on more and more of an ad hoc basis, whether that is employing freelance workers or outside consultants. We are further seeing a more generationally diverse workforce, more part-timers, and even more use of virtual teams facilitated by evermore virtual collaboration software.
1. Multi-generational Workforce
Organizations are now comprised of a diverse, multi-generational workforce consisting of four generations of workers: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and now, Millennials — working side-by-side. The differences in the way each generation (generally speaking) approaches work, technology, and professional relationships often causes gaps in understanding and expectations. These gaps frequently lead to decreased productivity and frustration, especially as the millennials become the largest group in the workforce.
2. Continued Shift to Part-time and Freelance Workers
In 2014, a joint Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk survey found that 34% of all U.S. workers are now freelance–that’s 53 million Americans. This number is only projected to rise in 2015. One result is the increased need for virtual collaboration spaces, which have become increasingly popular and vital, such as SharePoint, Atlassian Confluence, Alfresco, or Huddle. The boons–for both employees and employers–are manifold. Freelancers benefit from these cost- and time-saving technologies which allow for telecommuting–saving them from the time and money lost commuting. Employers further benefit from a larger pool of talent to draw from due to the decreased need for proximity.
As freelance increases in frequency across all professions so does it increase in acceptability. Freelance work allows for a greater freedom and engagement for workers, as there is a greater ability to choose one’s own project. This freedom, however, is by no means all positive for employees as job security is decreased, leaving freelancers potentially without pensions or other perks normally offered by employers.
3. Increase in Virtual Teams
Companies and teams are now freer than ever to work across borders and timezones. Organizations are finally free to hire top talent without requiring them to either already live within a limited geographical area or to relocate. Fortunately, there is a growing understanding of the differences between globally dispersed teams and co-located ones: Virtual work requires a more concerted effort to create bonds; communication must be more formalized; and leadership tactics adjusted. This understanding has opened doors for both talent and organizations to reap the rewards of high-performance virtual teams.
These three trends point to the increasing role technology plays in our work world — from telecommuting freelancers, to multi-generational workforces to virtual teams. Technology shapes our lives, but understanding how we use it and expect others to use it, either creates gaps or builds bridges between us as we navigate our virtual world.
Question for Readers: What trends impact you?