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The changing world of work


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From the places and the ways in which we work, to the kinds of businesses we start in the first place, the world of work is changing and evolving like never before. We take a look at some of the innovations, technologies and shifts in mindset that are leading the charge.

Communication without borders

Since Skype for Business arrived on the scene in 2015, communicating across international borders has become a lot easier, and a lot more affordable than in the days of pricey long-distance phone calls. This kind of technology has been partly responsible for the rapid growth in remote work, with a perhaps surprising 52% of US-based employees already working from home at least one day per week.

As video conferencing technology grows better each year, businesses are able – in theory at least – to ditch expensive air travel and business trips, along with the cost of meals, accommodation, local transport etc. that goes with them. Aside from the financial cost savings, it’s also a way for companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

For small business for whom overseas travel is out of the question, of course, the ability to communicate ‘face to face’ with potential customers on the other side of the globe has been a game changer.

Crowdfunding

Another fascinating way in which technology and a connected world have changed the way we do business is the phenomenon of crowdfunding through platforms such as Kickstarter. Instead of reaching out to a bank or an angel investor for startup funds, entrepreneurs can throw their hat into the global ring, and give everyday citizens the chance to invest in their idea.

A particularly successful example is that of the Exploding Kittens card game – not the type of venture your typical local bank would likely get behind! Although their initial goal was to raise just $10,000, the idea proved so popular that they ended up raising an astonishing $8.78 million from almost 220,000 individual backers!

One could argue that this kind of funding, which doubles as a kind of market research test to gauge demand for a product before it even exists – actually make a lot more sense than leaving the decision up to just one or two individuals likely to have their own subjective, if subconscious, biases.

Rent the tech you need, when and where you need it

One major drawback of the rapid pace of innovation in technology has been the need for businesses to replace their outdated tech – particularly devices like tablets and smartphones - more frequently than they’d like to. The cost of purchasing tech outright for a short-term requirement like a conference or expo has also been a sore point. In response, several companies now offer everything from desktop, laptop and Mac rental, to the option to hire virtual reality gear and interactive video walls!

Work anywhere – from digital nomads to remote workers and freelancers

With all this tech at our fingertips, who needs to leave the house to get to work? And indeed, the number of Americans who work as freelancers has skyrocketed from 3.7 million in 2014, to 56.7 million in 2018. From the perspective of employers, making use of freelancers allows them to better control costs, and access talent from around the globe.

In addition, the increasing availability of online courses, ‘microlearning’ and self-driven skills development is allowing individuals to better craft their own career paths and experiment with new industries – all without the constraints of a traditional nine to five role.

Many young individuals now see the ability to work as a digital nomad – living and traveling wherever they choose and completing all their tasks online – as the ultimate goal. As this becomes the lifestyle of choice, the tourism sector is being affected in turn.

As a general rule of thumb, digital nomads want the opportunity to experience the culture and daily life of a destination rather than typical ‘touristy’ kinds of activities, they favor short trips, they want affordable accommodation – and of course, fast and reliable Wi-Fi!

For small-scale tourist ventures like guesthouses and homeowners listed on services like AirBNB, targeting these kinds of potential guests can be a great way to drum up their first few positive reviews and carve a niche for themselves.

Different times call for different skills

So much has already changed in the world of work – most organizations would rather have employees who know how to be productive and use their time effectively than workers who spend eight hours each day keeping a seat warm!

As AI and machine learning continue to take over the more mundane and routine aspects of work, we will all (employees and executives alike) hopefully be able to focus more on the things humans do best – coming up with creative solutions and connecting with our peers and society at large to solve shared problems.

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