Three trends that will impact the way we work in 2019.

Karoli Hindriks, Co-Founder and CEO, Jobbatical.

What does work mean to you? To me, it’s a sense of purpose. It’s the realisation that I am having a positive impact on the people around me and contributing to the society in which I live. I’m fortunate to have a job that also enables me to impact the lives of people all over the world. It’s through this work with these inspiring people – remote workers, digital nomads, mobile professionals – that I see an exciting era of change for the way that we all go about our daily working business.

What has long been clear is that the nature of work is continually changing and will continue to do so for many decades to come. A recent World Economic Forum report predicted that 65 per cent of children now entering primary school will likely hold jobs that don’t currently exist when they begin their working lives – that’s both exciting and a little daunting. And it’s all down to the significant advancements we’ve made technologically, as well as our evolving attitudes towards how and where we work. So, what’s likely to change in 2019?

 

Employee wellbeing

Up until the turn of the 21st century, changes in the workplace had been mainly slow and predictable. Many older, established industries have long been seen as conservative in their attitudes to work. The 9 to 5 was the norm, and any hints of innovation would quickly be quashed. More recently, the idea that employees must spend their every waking hour living, eating, and breathing work to succeed has been commonplace. But that is now changing – perhaps it took a public figure like Elon Musk emotionally breaking down to a globally read newspaper to change this perception, but it can only be for the good.

Now, everywhere you look, employee wellness is top of mind for even the most stoic of industries. Apps like Calm and Headspace are being integrated into company HR policy, and there is a growing understanding that happy employees make for better employees, who stay longer. What’s more, company executives from a variety of industries are becoming more open to innovation and looking at new ways of getting ahead of their competitors in an increasingly saturated marketplace. An innovative attitude to work and employee wellbeing is the new differential in the battle to win the best talent on the market.

 

True mobility

Technology has already had an impact on the way we work, with smartphones enabling us to communicate more frequently with greater efficiency and laptops and tablets giving us far more mobility than before. These bring your own device policies are emblematic of what companies are looking to do to prepare themselves for the future of work, but it is actually many governments are driving some of the most exciting trends shaping the way we work.

We need only look at the likes of Estonia, where the government has created one of the most digitally advanced nations on the planet, to see what can be achieved. From digital IDs to secure online voting, Estonia leads the way in making its society truly digital. Now, it is looking to create the world’s first digital nomad visa, whereby location-independent professionals will be able to work and reside in Estonia long-term.

A survey of our own Jobbatical user-base, which includes as many as 270,000 professionals, indicates that more than 50% of those who want to work abroad would like to do so to experience a new culture. To achieve this, long-term stays will be required, so we expect to see much more of innovation in this space as governments look to tackle the increasing expectation of freedom of movement from the world’s citizens.

 

What week is it anyway?

Finally, flexible working in its simplest form is destined to become more commonplace. Suggestions like the 6-hour day or the 4-day week have been subject to debate for some time now. Recent trials of the 4-day week in New Zealand proved successful, and the 4-day week is increasingly common in countries like Malta, Finland, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Sweden. In fact, Sweden has also trialled a 6-hour working day.

In both sets of trials, employees noted that they felt their employer cared more about their wellbeing by implementing this change, and thus job satisfaction and engagement increased. Now, the UK’s Trade Union Council (TUC) has called for a four-day maximum working week as a move that will benefit the UK workforce.

Whether these changes do genuinely take place in 2019 or not, it is clear that there has been a further attitudinal shift towards the way we work in 2018. Governments and businesses are now working more closely to solve the puzzle of a lack of talent in their countries. This is a global trend, so expect to see the most forward-thinking governments and companies move beyond trials to implement some truly flexible work schemes and initiatives to improve employee wellbeing in 2019.

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