10 ways the workplace has changed since 2010

As 2020 draws near, it’s hard not to reflect on the past decade- so much has changed in the 10 years that flew by. In 2010, those who even had a smartphone were carrying around an iPhone 4 or a BlackBerry OS 6.0 version.

While the illustrious BlackBerry has all but disappeared from the workplace of 2019, there has been plenty of technologies in its wake to replace it. Let’s take a look at how the workplace has changed, communication tools and otherwise, in the past decade.

1. Collaboration over competition

“So many things have happened in the last decade that have really accelerated this change from competition to collaboration,” said Ann Shoket, workplace thought leader and former Editor-In-Chief of Seventeen Magazine.

“So first of all this old idea that there was room at the table for one woman, and you would fight tooth or nail for that spot, so obviously there was a lot of competition, particularly among women.

“Then the next generation, Millennial women, came in and made more room at the table and brought their friends along with them. That was the shift toward collaboration.”

2. It’s an employee market, not an employer market 

“Reflecting back on 2010 and what the economic circumstances were versus where we are at today, the competition for talent was very different in 2010 than as we enter 2020,” said Rhiannon Staples, the Chief Marketing Officer at Hibob.

Low unemployment rates today mean that job seekers have more options, and employees have more leverage in terms of what they can expect of their company due to the competition for top talent.

“It really is on businesses to help develop an environment, a culture, and perks that really draw the best talent in the market,” Staples said. “That’s really very different from where we were just 10 years ago.”

3. Push towards a more remote workforce

Anyone in the workforce 10 years ago won’t be shocked that the change in when and where we work made this list. Whereas in the past remote work was reserved for special situations,  that kind of idea is now replaced by a lot more freedom of where you work and when you work, and that’s not just people who are entrepreneurs. This idea is something that everybody wants out of work, to have a more flexible time frame to be free from the office. This idea of freedom is such an important piece of where we are going at work.

“That kind of idea is now replaced by a lot more freedom of where you work and when you work, and that’s not just people who are entrepreneurs,” Shoket said. “This idea is something that everybody wants out of work, to have a more flexible time frame to be free from the office. This idea of freedom is such an important piece of where we are going at work.”

4. Teams can be more spread out

Due to that remote work nature, the concept of a work team has shifted from being confined to one physical location to spread all across the world, if need be.

In 2010, an employer might not be too keen to let you work from San Francisco if the office was actually located in New York. Vice versa, employers have many more options when it comes to looking for new talents.

“Now you could hack into a global pool of knowledge workers to build the team you actually need irrespective of the location you’re always in,” said Mark Swift, the Partner Director of Design for Microsoft Teams, Skype and GroupMe at Microsoft.

5. Tools have become smarter

While email culture dominated the workforce in 2010, most offices prefer instant communication methods, like Slack, Skype for Business, or Microsoft Teams. Business moves faster, and instant communication is necessary for all members of the team.

“Teams really enables that to happen with channels and these open forms of communication where everyone has access to all the information, files, the people, tools,” Swift said. “That’s certainly helping people make decisions quicker but still being aligned to the shared goals.”

Tools are getting better at knowing how people want to work. For example, Microsoft Teams allows users to chat, share and work on files, schedule meetings, join meetings, call others, and more, all in place. While the tools we use today have come a long way, concepts like fluid framework and artificial intelligence are sure to be fully integrated into these tools within the next 10 years.

“We’re trying to look at microinteractions, which is rather than me going and sharing the whole Excel file, I can share just a table with you that’s connected to the Excel file,” Swift said. “It’s a smaller, light-weight, bite-sized piece of information and I can share it quickly, we can make decisions, but those decisions don’t get lost they still lather up to the larger Excel document.”

6. For the first time ever, there are four generations in the workplace

Going into 2020, the workplace consists of members spread across four very different generations: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers.

“Each of them really needs to be catered to in a different way,” said Rhiannon Staples, the Chief Marketing Executive at Hibob.

While Gen Xers might value flexibility in the workplace, Gen Zers show have shown a strong emphasis on opportunities for growth and development.

“The differing needs between the different generations in the workplace has really precipitated very significant change for HR leaders.”

7. Organizations are much less hierarchal

“The biggest change I see is the massively increased focus on collaborative leadership,” said Mary Good, the Chief People Officer at Squarespace. “The days of the top down, directive approach are gone, at least in tech, in part due to the competitiveness of the labor market and overall focus on the part of top companies to be Great Places to Work.”

New online tools have made it hard for employers to hide anything and allowed employees to have a much more impactful role.

“The advent and proliferation of social media tools has led to employee empowerment in sharing their work experience feedback with broader audiences,” Good said. “These empowered employees can vote with their voice and with their feet.”

Mark Swift from Microsoft agrees with this notion, adding that organizations have noticed the power of hearing everyone’s voice.

“We’ve started to see is this need for this open and transparent working environment to start to democratize knowledge and amplify everyone’s voice, rather than in the past it’s been top-down deployment of information, the highest-ranked person in the room’s voice was always louder,” Swift said. “There’s a missed opportunity to actually learn from everyone in the organization, so having a diverse perspective given the freedom of information.”

8. Employees go to work for more than just a paycheck

According to a recent survey done by Hibob, 10 years ago there was a much stronger focus on compensation than there is today. According to the survey, company culture, absence of employee burnout, and opportunities for growth were ranked as important factors in accepting a job offer – over a higher salary.

“We see stronger value today on things like growth opportunity or culture,” Staples said. “It seems like there’s been a shift to employees evaluating and considering a company…what might have been prioritized 10 years ago isn’t the same as it is today.”

As a result, organizations had to make changes to meet employees’ expectations, therefore shifting to view each employee as man individual with specific needs.

“A lot of leadership could take for granted that people would stick around longer, but in today’s booming economy there’s a greater need to focus on individual needs of people that are in your team,” Staples said. “As much as you’re worried about the business objectives, the conversation between managers and employees about their personal objective is really core to the values employees are deriving from the businesses they join. People want to know that there’s growth opportunity and that they’re valued as a human and individual, and not just as a number.”

9. Employees have different values when considering joining a company

While the idea that working for an organization being more than an economic transaction has been around for more than 10 years, Tom Rath, author, and researcher of workplace issues, has noticed an evolution in what employees expect out of their organizations.

“Organizations really have to prove that what they’re doing is good for society,” Rath said. “In the past one of the things we overlooked is most relationships between people and their employees are actually bad for their physical health. You’re starting to see more awareness now where organizations that churn and burn through people, that won’t be acceptable on an employee level.”

Additionally, Rath has seen that employees increasingly want to work for organizations that are working to better society.

“When you look at a more macro level of how we as consumers and citizens view big companies and brands, there’s also a similar push there where large organizations, in particular, are going to need to demonstrate and prove that they’re actually a societal good and they’re not just selling products or services that are bad for people,” Rath said. “Organizations will need to prove they’re good for the environment, they’re good for their customers, and they’re good for the communities they reside in.”

10. Workplace training has adapted to “edu-tainment.”

“Hulu and Netflix have not just impacted how we look at predictive aspects of assigning training and engaging people in content, but you’re also looking at how we deliver the content,” said Jeff Miller, the AVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness at Cornerstone.

The rise of streaming and social media have changed the way that people want to consume training or online education courses.

“Ten years ago you would sign on, you would take some e-learning, it was not heavily interactive, the content was not necessarily engaging or looking at the role of hue or color or interaction,” Miller said. “It was different.”

Due to consumers changing media-consumption habits, e-learning has adapted to become more like education entertainment, or edu-tainment.

“Now if you want to accelerate through content, you have to have some media savvy. We’re getting more into the world of user experience and understanding user-centric philosophies where companies are realizing that if we’re not delivering learning experiences to our employees, they’re just going to go onto YouTube or Google and find them for themselves,” Miller said.

Consumers diminishing attention spans have also moved the e-learning world from creating content that is multiple hours to creating segments that are only multiple minutes.