The Evolving Workplace


When your grandfather went to the office, he had a heavy black phone on his desk that rang with an actual bell inside. He rolled carbon paper into his typewriter to make copies, or used the mimeograph machine if multiple people needed to read his report. There was a water cooler in the corner, everyone knew everyone else’s family from the corporate picnic, and the punch clock was right next to the door as you left.

When your father went to the office, the typewriter was replaced by a massive (and massively expensive) beige computer that was going to change the company forever. Fax machines were the absolute cutting edge of technology. Financial planners popped in to explain new retirement devices called 401Ks. Employee turnover meant that it was harder and harder to know co-workers, let alone their families. And punch clocks gave way to timesheets.

Now that you, a member of Generation Z, are entering the workplace, what do you imagine you’ll find? More importantly, what will you want to find?

First, expect that the baby boomers will almost all retired within the next few years, and millennials will be moving up into managerial and senior positions. That means a change in mentality, a change in corporate culture, and more opportunities for Gen Zers to move up to middle management. But don’t say goodbye to those boomers just yet — they’ll be consulting for a good while.

Second, you’ll probably be looking for a lot of office perks — workplace flexibility, collaborative office design, maternity leave, and the like. And the thing is, you’re probably going to get it. Companies that are seeking out the top talent are listening to what that talent wants from the workplace and offering it.

Third, you need to brace yourself for some harsh corporate realities. Companies are becoming much more accepting of boomerang employees, those who left the business at some point only to return. Boomerang employees are going to make it harder to find open positions since they don’t need to be trained from scratch. To compound that issue, many companies are looking toward automation, which will eliminate even more potential jobs. And Obamacare takes full effect this year, meaning companies that can’t afford to insure full-time employees will have to let them go.

But that last one can also be looked at as an opportunity. By 2020, it’s expected that almost half of the workforce will be made up of “gig” employees, those who choose freelance jobs over full-time ones to maintain a sense of freedom and a healthy work/life balance. If companies are being forced to eliminate regular employees, those companies will have a huge void to fill, and being a freelancer could be a perfect solution for you.

There may be more changes in the near term for the corporate world than at any other point in history. If you’re about to enter the workforce, it can be a scary time, but also a time of enormous opportunity. Embrace it!

Travis Travis Triplett is a freelance writer for Insured Solutions. He resides in Louisville, KY, where he lives with his wife and dog


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