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The future is here and it’s the flexible workforce

(BUSINESS NEWS) Technology has changed everything, including how the workforce spends their day, where they report from, and how “on demand” gig workers are today.

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flexible workforce

Everyone is connected, all of the time. We’ve got our phones inches away, our televisions are smart, and we can even get emails on our fridges. Because of this hyper-connectivity, it’s changed how we’re working, how we collaborate, and how transparent teams have become.

Back in the day, most folks worked from 9-5. Today, we’re not exactly all rushing into the office by 9am sharp thanks to advances with technology as simple as sending a text message or email to the whole staff. We’ve become more flexible.

Businesses have shifted their methods of how work gets done, what can be achieved, despite teammates not sitting next to one another in an office. The workforce is getting younger, more technology-driven and because of this, flexibility has become a throughline for many successful teams. Whereas in the past, time off or working from home were “nice to have,” they’re now one of the first things a business has to discuss in the interviewing process.

But, what’s happening because of the inverse of services like Uber, Lyft, Favor, and Instacart, the gig economy is coming on strong. Everything is changing. What was once considered a role that’s full-time can now be done on an “as-needed” basis and the results are getting wild.

The Aspen Institute’s Workforce of the Future recently dropped a study citing that 60% of companies are using on-demand workers. The data also shows that 70% of companies are looking to hire more of a gig-based workforce in the future.

What exactly is a flexible workforce?

The definition of “flexible” is evolving because people want to work for themselves rather than punch a clock for someone else. The work can be a variety of project-based, seasonal, contracted, event-based, or even remotely.

Think of people who are:

  • Freelancers
  • Contingent workers
  • Part-time employees
  • Independent contractors
  • Gig workers

A whopping 36% of the U.S. workforce is involved in the gig economy – that’s 57 MILLION people, who are earning over a trillion dollars from gigs like delivering groceries, delivering food, working a specific event, or just testing out some software for an afternoon.

Why would anyone want to change up their business model and hire some flexible workers? Well, there are plenty of reasons.

Talent access

Depending on the community and work type, some companies choose to hire out contractors or freelancers because telecommuting is easier. By hiring for a one-time design or to get some copy written by using services like Upwork or Fivver, this allows creatives and corresponding managers to break traditional geographic constraints. This also means that niche professionals have broader access to companies who may need someone for a particular project that would usually disrupt the work of regular staff. The same thing could go for events and staffing a game when it comes to security or maybe a certain kind of bartender.

It’s cheaper

Let’s say you’re running a store in the French Quarter and every Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest the influx of tourists cripples your shop. There are people everywhere, and you need security, an extra register person and at least one other person on the floor to help customers. But, every other time of the year business is slower and manageable. A short-term worker would be able to come in just for these times with a clear understanding of the expectations as well the length of the work. This is cheaper than hiring someone part-time and keeping them on the fringes only for a few times a year.

Different people want different things

The makeup of the gig economy isn’t always who you think it is. While yes, there’s a large contingency that’s centered on Millennials and their constant search for work that’s meaningful, there are plenty of boomers who are working for something to do as retirement isn’t as fun as they expected. But, that also lends itself to those decades of experience, too. Generation X is looking for work-life balance and doesn’t want to be at work all of the time, so all three of these age segments offer a variety of worker types, all which can be used to fill different roles.

They’re available right now

Remember that instantaneous technology? A sector of the staffing and recruiting world has developed apps and platforms to meet the need for speed. Companies looking to get a job done right now have access to qualified workers who can do just that. Scalability and effectiveness have become the name of the game. Some companies (kinda like us) can even handle the paperwork and all of the details so a boss can put together their ask via their iPhone and get qualified leads back by lunch.

It’s beneficial for the long-term employees

Hiring someone for the short-term works to one huge benefit: it helps with employee burnout. By bringing in some folks to take care of a specific project or do something your regular employees just don’t have the time for, it improves morale. Plus, if someone does an incredible job at their temporary work, it might open the door to a conversation about longer-term employment – but on the company’s terms.

On-demand work is the fastest growing segment of the new workforce. People are picking up gigs everywhere. This is the model for the future, and it’s only going to continue to diversify. If you’ve got a project in mind that you’ve been casting off for months, getting the job done might be easier than you think. The technology is there.

Robert Dean is a writer at Adia and The American Genius. He is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven is in stores. Currently, he’s working on his newest novel, Tragedy Wish Me Luck. He also likes ice cream and panda bears. He currently lives in Austin. Stalk him on Twitter.

Business News

Confessions of a productive person: keeping a clean desk

Being a productive, clean person is nowhere near as difficult as it sounds – start with these simple steps focused on reduction in your life.

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minimalism productivity

We keep a clean office, there’s no secret about that, and the desks are usually clear of papers and clutter. Some call it minimalism, others call it clean, but mostly people just call it “wow” and ask how we keep such clean lives.

Studies show that your brain is hardwired to have cluttered thought patterns when you are surrounded by clutter, yes, even those of you that live in a pile of papers (which of course you have “a system” for). It can be intimidating to even get started when you have a messy office, but there are a few things that anyone can do to regain control and help your brain function at its optimal rate, improve productivity, and prove to clients and coworkers that you mind the details like no one else.

Friends and coworkers ask me constantly how I get so much done in the average day, and it isn’t because of my smartphone, no, it’s because I am a focused workhorse. A huge part of that is keeping a very clean environment. Let’s talk about why that’s important (and why you should ignore the “buut geniuses have messy desks” bullcrap editorials).

Perhaps you put to do items on post it notes or pieces of paper, or you pile up files that need to be dealt with – one of the most common reasons desks are messy. This method of task management is ineffective and tells your brain to panic because what you’re doing right now may or may not be as important as those 35 stickies, so you either pause frequently to reflect on the dozens of other unprioritized tasks, or your brain constantly churns in the background having been distracted with this mess that represents tasks, or you simply learn to tune the noise out, which defeats the purpose of your reminder system.

To change this, either implement tech tools to manage your tasks (search this site for “task management” and see dozens of tools) or keep one pad of paper or journal on your desktop.

minimalism

Another common item on desks is what? Envelopes. One of the tricks I’ve found is that no matter the envelope, it gets torn open and processed while I’m on hold or on a conference call I don’t have to speak on. Before you leave for the day, every bill should be torn open and either dealt with, filed, or if you must keep it on your desk, have a beautiful inbox or even a clipboard to keep them all in the same spot.

There are much more sophisticated methods, but let’s face it, you have to start small to ensure good habits. The same goes for files – be smart about processing paper in your down time.

My core confession that you may have picked up on so far is that I love to trash stuff.

I didn’t used to be this way, I used to hard paper, but it is how I began my journey toward being more productive – trashing. Remember that every time you throw just one envelope away, you’re making progress that is tangible, and you should learn to enjoy that progress and associate positive feelings with keeping things clean.

What else holds you back from keeping a clean work area and focusing on your tasks for the day? Often, books pile up or files start stacking themselves up magically. I’ve found that having aesthetically appealing storage systems (boxes, filing cabinets, files, pen holders, etc.) make you feel rewarded for using them. It’s a subtle trick, but if you invest in your desk accouterments, you feel compelled to use them, which inadvertently keeps you organized.

Look, these are simple things to do – ditch sticky notes, deal with mail and files before you leave for the day, and surround yourself with beautiful tools that keep you organized. This is where it begins – instead of being addicted to hoarding crap on your desk, work on rewiring your brain to enjoy reduction.

This editorial was originally published in November of 2013.

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Business News

You absolutely don’t need to be a 100% match for a job to apply

(CAREER) Most people believe they should only apply for their dream job if they’re a perfect match, but studies say that’s the wrong approach.

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apply for a job even if not 100% a match

You don’t need to be a 100 percent match for a job to apply. You just don’t.

We’ve all seen the crazy job postings:

-Must be fluent in Mandarin
-Must be be full-stack coder
-Must also have real estate license
-Must be a rockstar ninja (uuugh)

After seeing endless open positions with specific requirements, it’s no wonder that so many job seekers become discouraged. How can anyone fit 100 percent of the requirements on the job listing? And actually, most people don’t. According to a recent study, you only need to meet ~70 percent of the job requirements to be a good fit for a job.

So you’re telling me a requirement isn’t actually a requirement?!

The study analyzed job postings and resumes for over 6,000 positions across 118 industries, and they found that applicants are just as likely to get an interview whether you meet 50 percent or 90 percent of the requirements.

Crazy, I know. That law of diminishing returns will eff you up.

But what about women? I wondered the same thing. Surprisingly, the interview data was in favor of women that meet less of the requirements. In fact, the study shows that as a female, the likelihood of getting an interview increases if you simply meet 30 percent of the requirements. Also, female applicants are just as likely to get an interview if they meet 40 percent versus 90 percent of the job requirements.

Before you start complaining that women have it better in the job search process, correlation doesn’t equal causation.

Interestingly enough, 64 percent of the female users rejected at least one job where they matched 50 – 60 percent of the requirements, while only 37 percent of male users did. This leads us to believe there more implicit factors to take into consideration, like imposter syndrome throughout the interview process.

If you’re a recruiter or employer, this may seem like more work. But in an increasingly competitive job market for both employers and applicants, this presents an opportunity to get to know people for who they actually are, not just on paper. And resumes often do a poor job of reflecting that — especially the ever-important soft skills.

Key takeaways:

As we’ve gone through this study, here are a few practical action items for job seekers:

1. Apply for a lot of jobs to increase your number of interviews.

The study shows that increased interviews are a direct result of increased applications, not just picking and choosing what you think you’re a good fit for. Which brings us to our next point:

2. Go for those “stretch” roles — you never know what may come of it!

Send in a lot of applications, but don’t let that stop you from approaching the process thoughtfully. Recruiters can tell if you’ve skimped on the cover letter or your resume, and a thoughtful approach to the application process will be noticed and appreciated by recruiters, especially for those reach roles.

3. Don’t second-guess yourself.

We’re always our own worst critics, and according to this, we don’t need to be — especially throughout the job application process. Job hunting is stressful enough, so put on your most upbeat playlist (or Beyonce), say your affirmations, and go on with your bad self and start applying!

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Business News

Why email remains the top communication tool for businesses

(BUSINESS NEWS) Communication has changed tremendously over the years, but email appears to remain home base. Here’s why.

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voice and SEO

Smartphones are so popular, you might assume that phone calls, text messages, video chat, Slack, Trello, or just social media would have surpassed email as the most popular form of communication. Surprisingly, they have only enabled its growth.

Email is, hands down, the most prominent form of communication and collaboration among businesses, and that’s not expected to change any time soon. “Over the course of the last year, there has been considerable discussion about the role of email in workplaces that depend heavily on social network and other collaboration tools,” says David Roe of CMS Wire.

“In these discussions, there appears to be a general consensus that while social networks are useful to achieve work-related goals, email remains the undisputed communications tool in the enterprise.” The statistics back up these claims.

Worldwide, there are more than 2.5 billion email users, and that number is expected to climb to 2.9 billion by the end of next year. That represents more than a third of the global population operating one or more active email accounts.

Right now, only about 25 percent of current email accounts are business accounts, but we can expect a rapid increase in those as well. The average office worker will send and receive as many as 121 email messages per day.

David Roe also addressed a SendGrind study called The Future of Digital Communication, which evaluated trends in digital communication among the various generations. The findings showed that 74 percent of people chose email as their preferred method of communication and 89 percent email at least once every month for business or personal reasons.

Email is a huge part of our collaborative and communicative society, so understanding its role in business and society can play a huge role in mastering trends to the best advantage in your enterprise.

Roe further explains that, although the status of email has not changed within the walls of business enterprises, it has evolved. “The kinds of people using it are changing so it is only logical that the way it is being used is going to change too,” he says.

A younger generation that’s more in tune with digital trends and technology will soon be dominating the workforce, and email is adapting. SendGrind CMO Scott Heimes said in The Future of Digital Communication report that new technology will render email a new, more useful entity.

“With chatbots making their way into email and messaging apps in 2017, 2018 will be the year in which chatbots effectively provide personalized experiences to customers, if done correctly,” Heimes said. “Marketers will leverage data from email marketing, display retargeting, social media ads and chatbots to create a cohesive and unified experience for customers.”

This is just a glimpse of what’s to come for email users, and businesses may capitalize on its new roles for more effective collaboration.

Given the steadily evolving landscape that is email, here are the chief reasons we can expect it to stick around as a viable business tool:

Convenience: Can you imagine being on the phone or texting/social messaging for the equivalent of 121 email messages per day? You can often accomplish more in a 10-minute phone call than you can in 10 emails, but sending and receiving messages when it’s the most convenient option can be a huge draw for busy employees.

Security: Phone calls can be overheard, texts intercepted, and social media messaging accounts hacked. Email can also be hacked, but thanks to encryption services that plug right into Microsoft, Gmail, or other enterprise email services, that data can be protected.

Work-From-Home Collaboration: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 percent of employees performed all or some of their work from home in 2016, and that number’s expected to grow substantially over the coming decade. Although collaboration programs are popular, working from home simply wouldn’t be possible for this many people without email.

Ease of Talking to People: Some people freeze up when they speak on the phone. Others just don’t like it. Millennials and Gen Z employees are entering the workforce in full swing now, and their use of digital technology makes email a go-to solution. Workers who hate phone conversations can communicate easily with their devices and avoid too much interpersonal interaction.

Information Transfer: There’s rarely a better method of transferring information than via email. Not only can you transfer files and documents to the recipient(s), but you can also store the information for future reference.

Instant Notifications: Email speeds are faster than ever. Posts arrive in your inbox nearly instantaneously. Real-time communication is practicable in a convenient, simple method.

Ease of Access: Thanks to smartphones, you can get access to your email pretty much anywhere. There’s also no need for a WiFi connection since data plans are robust and cell phone coverage broader than ever.

Email is not a perfect system. Like every other form of communication it has its downsides, but it’s proven to be the most useful form of communication to date. Although new forms of collaboration surface regularly, email probably isn’t going anywhere.

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