The future of work is empowered, engaged, and everywhere

Josephine La Pietra

As people, technologies, and our lifestyles continue to evolve—our work lives will need to evolve along with them. Breakthrough Brands are already at the forefront of the working future, rapidly disrupting traditional notions of work, workplaces, and careers. Cultural and technological shifts are changing this: from the “rise of the robot” to the growing gig economy, along with a whole new crop of skill sets to learn and leverage. The future of work will require employers and employees alike to embrace some rising trends.

 

Worker-empowerment

A major shift in the job market that is already evident is an increasingly empowered workforce. People want more control over their work lives—this includes being their own bosses, and being rewarded, both fiscally and emotionally in their work. Breakthrough Brands are creating opportunities for these individuals, and companies that seek unique talent. By 2020, it is predicted that more than 50 percent of the US workforce will be freelance. Globally, by 2025, online talent platforms responsible for traditional and “gig economy” roles are expected to boost GDP by USD $2.7 trillion and increase global employment by 72 million. Workers are turning to independent jobs so they can get the freedom to decide what type of work they do, and the flexibility to do it on their own terms.

This has spurred companies to search for employees in new areas – whether this is through online freelance marketplaces or tapping into new talent pools. ULTRA Testing is redefining the future of work for a particular talent base. This neurodiverse tech company provides high-quality software testing services for major clients, with 75 percent of its team on the autism spectrum. This traditionally underemployed segment can exhibit heightened abilities that are an exact match for software testing. Another brand that has tapped into an overlooked talent pool is Samasource, a pioneer in Impact Sourcing, the practice of hiring people from underprivileged sectors to complete digital work. Their focus is on bringing opportunities to impoverished communities in developing markets and training workers in practical and professional skills, then giving them paying jobs that will help lift them out of poverty.

 

New terms of engagement

As the workforce becomes more fluid, employers will need to reassess how they continue to attract and retain employees. Engagement isn’t just about hosting team happy hours and handing out snacks: today’s employees require wellness, balance, and fulfillment in their careers as well as their lives. As people spend a greater portion of their life working, they will rely on companies to prioritize wellness. Transportation company Rivigo is working on making logistics more human—ensuring that its employees are safe and happy, while at the same time streamlining deliveries. This India-based brand improves the lives of its drivers by tracking the amount of time drivers can stay on the road before they get too tired to operate a vehicle safely. Drivers end their shifts and hand their trucks off without interrupting Rivigo’s 24-hour route operations, all using the brand’s custom smartphone app.

Professional development is another key component of employee engagement. Relying on fixed abilities and qualifications is a thing of the past. With unlimited access to information at our fingertips, employees expect to learn and grow throughout their entire careers, not just through a training session. General Assembly is a pioneer in education and career transformation, specializing in providing training and courses for today’s most in-demand skills. GA is helping employees continue to grow not just within their career tracks—it’s providing them opportunities to learn new skills, broaden their abilities, and open up options, whether launching their own projects or working their way up the company ladder. Facilitating professional development can be beneficial to both employees and their employers.

But in order to create a workplace that runs efficiently while keeping a strong culture of engagement, employers need to reassess their operations. bob is a central data hub that is shaping the future of Human Resources. It aggregates employee data in one place, then uses that data to inform everything from payroll processing to benefit packages and cultural initiatives, making business management easier and ensuring an engaged staff. One standout point is the “clubs” feature, which encourages employees to create groups and promote their own interests. Keeping employees fulfilled and satisfied within their work will be one of the biggest challenges to brands facing the future of work.

 

Flexible, together

It’s not just where and when we work, but how we work that’s changing. As employee needs evolve and the workforce continues to diversify, new methods of collaborating are breaking through. Increased mobility and remote work have spawned all kinds of productivity platforms—including flexible co-working spaces, wearables to help employees track habits, and software to facilitate task management. One Breakthrough Brand that is revolutionizing how we work is Slack, a brand that is on a mission to make working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive. The user-tailored software platform has transformed workplace communications— allowing instant team communication, clearing reporting lines, and fostering a more collaborative working culture, whether across the office or across the globe. As workers are choosing more flexible working styles, offices may no longer be the norm. In the future, platforms like Slack will become critical for remote workers to cultivate a sense of real-time interaction and teamwork, and to improve collective efficiency.

This year’s Breakthrough Brands are only cracking the surface of the changes we will be seeing. Today’s millennial workforce will become the leaders of tomorrow, taking with them their values and expectations. Both Breakthrough and Best Brands must be prepared to redefine “worker,” “workplace” and “work” itself, for the next wave of talent joining the force.