How work has changed since 2010

I’m not sure I can even remember some of the fine details of 2010, but it’s clear to me that work has definitely changed in the last decade. Here are a few of the major things that have shifted and had an impact on the world of work.

Digital changes

Technology, especially the internet, has truly revolutionised work in the developed world. It’s had an impact on everything, from online banking changing the profile of the workforce (doing more online ourselves mean branches need less staff) to the myriad of systems, apps and platforms that enable us to do our jobs differently.

Online accounts packages have changed the job of an accountant. Artificial intelligence has automated parts of customer service and technology now used to allow customers to “self-serve”, meaning we don’t need to speak to someone for everything from updating an address to paying a bill.

This is impacting hugely on job roles with more digital skills being required in many roles as well as purely digitally-focused roles such as Data Scientist, Automation Analyst, Robotics Engineer and also blurring of roles as skills cross over into more generic roles.  This all means that as employees we need to be agile and always learning to stay relevant and keep up with the digital change.

Children just starting school now will enter a world of work that will look unimaginably different to the one we see today. The jobs they end up doing may not even yet exist.

Your working world in your hand

The first iPhone was launched in 2007 but smartphone adoption has really gathered pace in the last decade. If you had a work phone in 2010 it was likely to have been a Blackberry, so you could see emails and texts and make calls, but the camera was woeful and it didn’t give generic internet access.

Smartphones have caused a seismic change in the world of work, aiding and abetting the always-on culture that has developed, facilitated by the internet. Some countries are so concerned about the impact of workplace expectations that they have legislated to protect workers – in 2016, France enacted a law that gives workers the right to “switch off” outside of working hours.

But smartphones have also been a force for good, facilitating another great change in the way we now work – remote working.

Choice over when and where to work

Whether it’s taking a day to work from home because your new sofas are due to be delivered or being permanently based in another time zone from your colleagues, the internet and smartphones allow us to do many jobs from almost anywhere in the world.

No longer only the operating model for SMEs or fast-growing tech companies, remote working moved into the mainstream between 2010 and 2020, with Forbes reporting in 2019 that it had become the standard for more than 50% of the US working population.

Whether you work for a large multi-national or are starting your own business, technology now gives us more options than ever about where, when and how we work. But this too has drawbacks. Buffer’s State of Remote Work report in 2019 showed that remote workers find it harder to switch off (22%), but also that 19% of remote workers are lonely.

Changing workplace culture and leadership

In the last decade we have seen a move towards inclusive leadership where employees are involved and engaged more in developing the culture of an organisation. This approach marks a move further away from old school command and control autocratic leadership and is likely to be a response to the overwhelming piles of research demonstrating that a happy workforce is more productive.

Leaders have access to a wide range of training and development to help them become better people managers where they are able to coach, develop and support employees. There are now lots of tools to measure and manage employee satisfaction and people’s opinions are increasingly valued.

Linked to working differently, we’re seeing a focus on creating a workplace fit for the 21st century. This isn’t all about beanbags and slides, but about planning spaces that people want to work in. With a move away from a corner office for the boss to much more open plan, hot-desking employees are likely to feel more social connection and be able to work in flexible rather than rigid teams.

Design director of This Is Interiors Melody Griffiths says: “Open plan working has evolved. Companies recognise that you might have a loud employee who needs to make phonecalls or that there needs to be space for confidential calls or to collaborate. We look at open plan offices as a landscape – they need high points and low points. That could be bar tables to have standing up meetings which are more collaborative and dynamic, or feature soft seating that colleagues can sit in to chat through a project.

“As long as your company culture acknowledges that the people sitting in the tub chairs with a cuppa are still working, there’s a whole range of more flexible office layouts that can facilitate work and improve productivity.”

There’s also increased pressure to have a positive employer brand through the rise of company reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and initiatives like Best Companies To Work For which help potential employees decide whether a company is for them.

Better understanding of mental health

Throughout the last decade we saw a rise in consideration for people’s mental health as being just as important as physical health. Companies are recognising the need to educate leaders, managers and employees around mental health providing them with information and knowledge to promote positive wellbeing and support employees with issues around stress, anxiety, depression and other mental illness.  Schemes like Mental Health First Aiders have gained traction and many organisations are now much more sympathetic to people who struggle with negative mental health.

Companies are often supporting healthy eating and exercise through wellbeing initiatives as well as providing more opportunities to access talking support through employee assistance programmes (EAP) and promoting these more to employees.

Employment Tribunal fees affected the most vulnerable

We asked employment law specialist Marie Walsh of award-winning law firm Consilia Legal what she thought was the biggest change in employment law during the last decade. Marie named employment tribunal fees as the biggest upheaval.

It had previously been free to bring a case to tribunal but this changed in 2013 when the Government introduced fees, which could cost up to £1,200 in some cases.

“The introduction of fees was to the detriment of the most vulnerable,” Marie says. “People who were off sick, coming back from maternity leave or who were otherwise at a low ebb financially were the ones who found they couldn’t afford to seek justice at a tribunal.”

The rules of fees led to tribunal cases halving, and quickly doubling again when the Supreme Court ruled them unlawful. This forced the Government to pledge to pay back fees paid by people between 2013 and 2017.

“It could be all change again with the EU Withdrawal Bill,” Marie muses. “Much, but not all, of our employment law is on the UK statute books. Who knows what we will look back on a decade from here?”

Need to change your working world?

If you’re feeling the need for a change to work and need some support to figure out what it is, or to make it happen, give me a call to book your free chemistry session to hear about how I can help you make your dream a reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.