The Changing Face of the Workplace

Change in the workplace has never been more rapid. There is no 'long term' in today's working environment - the concept is dead. A job for life and gold watch on retirement are quaint traditions of a bygone era. It is predicted that we will no longer have careers but a series of jobs.

Open-ended contracts are becoming less common - today's way of working is more often in bite-sized projects which have a definite start and end.  In the near future half the workforce of the developed world will be working outside an organisation. Traditional organisations now only employ 55% of the workforce on a full-time basis. The rest are temporary, part-time, or casual.

Only the adaptable will survive. You must react to that change by being flexible and open to learning new skills. In this shifting world of work your current job can be considered as one route to gaining skills and knowledge in preparation for the next one.


Seeking Work

The internet has revolutionised recruitment and the search for work. Most blue chip companies use the worldwide web for recruitment. A wide range of jobs are advertised on the Kelly Career Network. Technology also enables employers to carry out interviews on the internet with the two parties being in completely different parts of the world.

However, the traditional methods of finding work are also alive and well and can be equally effective. The dedicated appointments supplements and numerous pages in national and local newspapers and magazine are evidence of this. Networking and personal recommendations are often the best ways to gain that initial advantage over other candidates.

The best advice when looking for work is to be active, energetic and tenacious. Don't be put off by initial rejections. Practice makes perfect where interview technique is concerned. You will soon find out what works when trying to impress a prospective employer. And from your own point of view, the more you look and become aware of what's on offer, the better you will be able to determine exactly the type of job that will suit you.


Flexible Working

Globalisation has made work a 24-hour business. Increasingly companies are offering employees more flexible working to better fit their lifestyle. Job sharing, part-time working, flexible hours, parental leave and working from home are commonplace in many larger organisations.

A Kelly Services survey of 1,500 workers found that half the respondents wanted to be able to choose their working hours between 7.30-19.30, with a further 30% wanting the freedom to carry out their work at anytime of the day or night.

Consider what working hours would best suit your lifestyle. Usually evenings, night and weekend shifts attract a higher rate of pay. But you have to be prepared to be flexible and available when demand is high.


Lifelong learning

The American management guru Peter Drucker has advanced the view that continuing adult education, generated by the internet, may well become the greatest economic growth opportunity of the future. The concept of lifetime education is most appealing to those who are already highly educated who are aware that they must keep abreast of the latest trends and technologies.

Companies are already finding it difficult to get skilled staff, particularly in the area of IT. It makes sense to take every advantage of training courses on offer because skills need to be constantly updated. The more skills and qualifications you have the more use you will be to an employer. Qualifications will not only make it easier to find work but you will be better paid too.


Training

Ultimately, it is up to you to take responsibility for your own training. There are government and locally run schemes available, as well as training through recruitment companies. Kelly Services, for example, has a unique windows-based PinPoint™ training package, which covers all common software including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.


Office Environment

The constant development of new technology means that the workplace can be virtually anywhere you happen to be. This creates opportunities for flexible working way beyond anything we could have imagined just a decade ago.

It is now possible to communicate effectively with staff wherever they are based. WAP phones, laptop computers, email, modems and faxes enable us to take our office with us whether we are at home, in the car or on a train.

Don't be frightened of this new technology. Embrace it for the benefits it can offer you and investigate how it can help you work smarter and more efficiently. Remember as technology is constantly changing and being updated it is not just new to you but to everyone else too. If you keep an open mind you will probably be surprised how user friendly many of these gadgets can be and after a short time wonder how you ever managed without them.

The increase in home working and the mobile office means that you may no longer have a designated workstation. You have to be prepared to 'hot desk' and adapt to the situation.


Dress Code

Like fashion, the right style for work constantly changes and depends very much on the type of industry in which you are working. Following on from 'casual Fridays' the tendency recently has been to dress down. Some large firms have told their staff that they no longer need business suits and smart casual is the way forward.

This can be tricky and quite confusing. Naturally you want to fit in, especially if you are new, and there are two ways in which to do so. When you go for an interview take note of what your future colleagues are wearing. It should be easy to gauge if you get the opportunity to see the people with whom you will be working. If you are not sure then ask if they have a dress code. It will give a positive signal of your willingness to fit in and be part of the team.


Managing Your Own Career

Kelly Services' research shows that the workforce has become used to taking responsibility for career decisions and does not crave the job security of earlier times. Employees were asked if they were to receive the offer of a very attractive job, with the security of a contract, how long would they sign up for. Just over a quarter of respondents would sign up until retirement, but they were mainly aged 45 and over. The majority of under 35s, however, would only commit to one or two years, reflecting a desire to remain flexible in case a better offer comes along.

When taking responsibility for your own career there are other areas like pensions, healthcare and training which cannot be ignored. A quarter of respondents in the Kelly Services survey said they have no idea what their retirement income will be. Financial planning is essential if you are not eligible for a company pension scheme. Also you may wish to consider healthcare and sickness insurance.

 

Balance of Work and Home

Juggling the demands of work and home are not easy, especially in today's busy and competitive climate. According to studies we work two to three hours longer each week than we did 10 years ago. Most people would agree that we spend far longer at work than we want to. Greater materialistic expectations and job insecurity contribute to the increase in working hours.

However, good employers realise that staff are more productive when they are happy at home. Flexibility is a two-way street - if you help out when the pressure is on, your boss will probably reciprocate when you need extra time off for domestic crises.

You really need to step back and consider what you want from your career, what your expectations are and how much you are prepared to commit. At one stage in your life your career may be all-important and you will want to pledge a 110% effort to climb the promotion ladder. There may be other periods when other aspects of you life take precedence. Then you can take advantage of the increasing flexibility.

The choice is yours. Make your decision and go for it!

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