How the world of work is changing (and what to do about it)

The workforce just doesn’t look like it used to. We know work is no longer as it was defined in the 20th century: comprised of permanent full-time contracts and the notion that employees will work for one company throughout their lifetime.

So why do we still think of work as a promise to sit at a desk and perform tasks from 9-to-5?

Today, workers jump between opportunities, industries and even countries – and employers know it. Full-time permanent roles are disappearing in favour of project teams, contract positions and roles filled by freelancers or external consultants.

The ?one-size-fits-all? approach is disappearing as work becomes more diversified than ever.

Rethinking 9 to 5

Experts don’t need to look into their crystal balls to guess whether standard 8-hour days will be phased out ? that has already happened. Technology allows us to exercise more autonomy over our work, meaning we can work from anywhere, at any time.

For women and men alike, this can mean an increase in work-life balance and the ability to set our own schedules, assignments and work independently. But if these arrangements are to become the new norm, employers must rethink the value of having their employees clock in and out at the same time each day.

?One option is to count the total hours of work: you?ll be working 200 days each year for my company, and I don’t care whether you work five hours a day, or 10 hours a day, or whether you work every day or every second day.

So maybe that’s a new way to calculate working time.? ? Denis Pennel, Managing Director of the World Employment Federation

What about workplace roles and expectations?

To cope with this change, we can set real expectations in our workplace around what flexibility really looks like for us, and for the business. For employers, this means being more open to the idea of employees working remotely, organising alternative start times or job-sharing. Employees however, must ensure they are managing their schedules and are still able to contribute equally to their team, just as would be expected at the office. After all, it is a two-way street.

It’s not just the definition of ?working time? that is becoming more flexible. Work is no longer about repetitive tasks performed on a mass scale to achieve an end goal ? those positions are being made redundant through robotics and automation. Instead, our work is defined by the value in our expertise, the transfer of information and our interactive contributions.

Inherently, this kind of work can be far more diverse and flexible. HR leaders and employees alike need to think differently about flexible roles and contractual arrangements including casual employees, on-demand workers, contractors, job-sharing arrangements, part-time arrangements, voucher based work and freelancers.

What happens to our security?

What are we trading away when we step from traditional roles and working hours into an arrangement with greater flexibility? The transition to the new world of work has become a balancing act between flexibility and security, for both employers and employees.

?In these increasingly complex labour markets, people are required to navigate their own way and to bear their own risks because companies will no longer offer jobs for life? ? Denis Pennel, Managing Director of the World Employment Federation

There’s no better way to ensure your own security than by creating it yourself. Entering this next phase of work means creating our own security strategies, where benefits follow us from one employer to the next, rather than being tied to one specific position. This continued access to social protection and idea of portable benefits will become more and more important as the economic environment becomes increasingly volatile. 

The new world of work is one fraught with challenges, but also brimming with opportunities. Over the next five years, we will all need to step up to find the solutions that combine meaningful, flexible work with security.

If you are gearing up for the next step in your career or your organisation’s development, please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion. For flexible recruitment needs to prepare you for the new world of work, please visit

– Kristine Berry, Director

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