Our workplaces have changed a lot over the past few decades. They’re always evolving, keeping pace with the latest technologies, large-scale social transformations, and new levels of human freedom. Sometimes these changes are quite slow, but there are moments in human history that can cause business owners, government officials, and other policy-makers to speed this process up.
The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be a historical event of this kind. It has affected our workplaces dramatically. Now we’re all wondering which of these innovations are temporary and which ones are here to stay. In any event, employers have gained a new perspective they wouldn’t have developed otherwise, and they have more info to act upon and make decisions about this. Here are some of the most important trends we’re already seeing in our workplaces that are all about the future.
Surely the most obvious change we’ve experienced since the start of the epidemic is a huge increase in remote work. Of course, many companies started utilizing telecommuting a while ago, but many others first introduced it only recently as a response to social distancing measures.
So what are the consequences of this massive experiment? A lot of businesses have realized that they have increased productivity and/or cut expenses after most of their employees started working from home. Surely, this fact wasn’t unheard-of before the crisis, and giants like AT&T or Dell reported they had saved millions of dollars thanks to different telework initiatives. But only now it is becoming a fact wide-spread enough that we can expect it to cause changes on a global scale.
Moreover, remote work suits employees as well. As much as 91% of them say telecommuting is a good fit for them, and 37% would agree to receive a 10% pay cut in exchange for working from home. Also, the number of available different jobs that can easily be done from any spot on the planet is on the rise, so telecommuting seems like one of the trends that will only grow in popularity.
Emphasis on work-life balance
If we want to understand the workplace of the future, we need to recognize that the upcoming generations have different priorities. Chasing more and more money at whatever cost doesn’t seem too appealing to millennials and Generation Z. This should turn out to be beneficial for companies as well, as we can expect more productive workers once the stress levels start to fall. Namely, a staggering 60% of workers experience performance drops as a consequence of chronic work-related stress.
Of course, businesses will have to adapt to this reality. The best salaries are not sufficient to attract the best talent anymore. The new generation’s priority is to have the best possible balance between work and life and to have an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest. That’s why we’ll see companies investing a lot in employee experience. This includes providing some essentials such as sick leave or flexible hours, but also some apparently less important perks like cozy offices, game rooms, or creative team building ideas. Organizations will have to adapt their entire cultures to this new set of employee demands.
Some companies even allow power naps at work. It may sound silly, but it’s actually perfectly sensible given that the effects of sleep deprivation include lack of focus, poor memory, emotional stress, and erratic behavior. It seems that in the future, businesses will want their workers to be stress-free and well-rested so that they can truly excel at their jobs.
A certain amount of flexibility from both employers and employees is becoming a must for any successful company. We’ve already seen that workers will expect less rigidity about when they will work and where they will work from. But we’ll also see executives expecting employees to show some adaptability.
Most businesses of the future will have their work processes and activities dictated by new technologies as well as their ever-changing markets. This means they’ll need some quick learners on the team, who should even be ready to unlearn some of the things they know in order to adjust to new circumstances.
Furthermore, the focus of employee training will be acquiring a wider set of skills and cross-functional knowledge that can prepare them to jump in new positions whenever necessary. In combination with increased talent mobility, this will allow companies to scale their business easily.
You don’t really have to be a prophet to anticipate artificial intelligence taking a large part in the workplace of the future. Up to 47 percent of US jobs might be at risk of being completely automated in the next 20 years.
This makes it even more important for workers in many branches to diversify their skills if they want to survive in the new, AI-driven reality. As Marc Andreessen, a famous American entrepreneur put it – in the future, there will be two types of jobs: people who tell computers what to do and people who are told what to do by computers.
AI already has a significant influence on the world of business today. Different AI-backed softwares help companies streamline workflows and increase productivity. They collect and interpret massive amounts of data that affect practically all important business decisions. And because they’re basically self-learning and self-teaching algorithms, they’ll only get better at it.
Fewer long-term commitments
We’ve already seen that new circumstances will lead to a lot more flexibility at work, in terms of talent mobility, diversification of skills, and roles and positions that are not as well-defined as in the old days. This will have another important consequence. It will inevitably lead to a less stable job market, which means fewer long-term contracts and more contingent workers.
And it’s already happening. More than 90 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. The fact that there are more and more independent short-term projects and on-demand work has influenced a huge increase in the number of freelancers, and this increase won’t be stopping any time soon. Thirty-six percent of Americans are freelance workers, with this number predicted to hit the 50-percent mark as early as 2027.
Given the convenience of freelancing and the evolution of different platforms for freelancers, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. However, the gig economy has many downsides, and the never-ending uncertainty it entails can be stressful and overwhelming. Freelancing is a great path to take when it’s a matter of choice, but when it’s a matter of no choice, it can be difficult and distressing.
As always, the workplaces of the future will shape the workers of the future. These places will be exciting and unpredictable, but also vicious sometimes. And this job market will demand dynamic, agile, and versatile candidates that can adapt quickly and fit multiple different roles.
That is, if there are no major surprises in the forthcoming years. But we’ve seen we can’t take that for granted. We have no idea just how bad the consequences of the current epidemic-induced crisis could be, let alone predict what the decades ahead of us will look like. We can only be sure they won’t be boring.
The Complete Guide to Designing a Secure Data Center
Designing a secure data center takes significant forethought, especially with physical and online-based risks becoming progressively more likely. Here are some actionable considerations that can reduce risks and make facilities safe and future-proof.
Designing a data center with security in mind begins with choosing the right location. The area’s crime rates could be a good starting point. How likely will vandals, burglars or other criminals target the newly built facility? Crime rate averages for a given region don’t tell the whole story, but they can highlight particular places to avoid or prioritize.
Once data center designers find a suitable location, they should strongly consider utilizing a concept called crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).
It’s a well-known option for residential areas and schools but less common in the data center industry. CPTED centers on communicating that a facility is well-maintained, making it less appealing for criminals to target. Designers can get inspiration from CPTED concepts often deployed in communities.
Those could include:
- Installing fencing to designate clear boundaries
- Ensuring data center properties remain well lit
- Posting prominent signage to direct visitors to the main entrance
Many CPTED objectives also center on having a strong presence in the neighborhood. That way, community members feel compelled to voluntarily play a part in keeping the data center secure. That could involve having a local monitoring program where people use a dedicated phone number to report suspicious activity.
However, the emphasis on community involvement makes it necessary for designers and other involved professionals to engage with anyone feeling upset about a data center coming to a particular location. Ignoring strong resistance from residents, political officials and other community members could make the data center less secure because people are more willing to target it.
Hardening encompasses efforts to make data centers more resilient against physical attacks. That could mean working with engineers to ensure the facility remains intact after structural failures. That approach helps people inside stay safer from events like building collapses. Teams that need to design a secure data center must consider the most likely adverse outcomes and how to prevent them.
Some professionals recommend data centers have at least seven layers of physical security. They are surveillance cameras, intruder detection systems, vehicle traps, auditable access controls, full authentication measures, physical barriers and 24/7 security guards. A data center uses hardening principles well if it features multiple preventive measures to stop unauthorized access.
Risk assessments of planned data centers may also indicate the need to protect the facility from bombs or other terrorist acts. Such cases usually require reinforcing the data center with steel in concrete. Designers may even choose to put the data centers underground. Those facilities are generally more secure than above-ground ones, but they still require stringent precautions against intrusion.
One week in 2021 had more than a dozen bomb threats against data centers in the United States and Canada. None involved explosives, but those instances illustrate the need for preparedness. Criminals increasingly realize how important these facilities are to modern society, increasing the chances they’ll set their sights on them.
Anyone asked to design a secure data center should work closely with cybersecurity experts to understand how decisions may help or hurt cybersecurity. The things internet security teams do to keep data centers safe have evolved over the years, particularly as technological options improve. For example, it’s increasingly common to use artificial intelligence (AI) to thwart cyberattacks before they happen or make successful ones less damaging.
Some cyberattacks happen through physical means. As recently as 2022, attackers were mailing infected USB drives to targets. They hoped to entice people to use them on their computers and install malware. However, criminals could also try to launch a cyberattack through physical means, such as by posing as service providers or others typically given temporary access.
One best practice is using a five-layered approach to secure data center systems. It breaks measures down into categories and involves covering the following aspects of the facility:
- Physical: This layer intends to stop in-person intrusion attempts and uses means such as security cameras and multifactor authentication-based access controls.
- Logical: This layer represents everything to do with the operating system. It involves preventive measures such as patching or removing older networks and using good password management practices.
- Network: This layer represents the gateway attackers can use to launch their attacks if not properly secured. It includes elements such as firewalls, routers and switches. Options for preventing attacks include removing unused network interfaces and using microsegmentation to limit the spread of any successful attacks.
- Application: This layer is solely about securing applications and database-related systems. One best practice is to have separate environments for development, production and testing. Another is to use logs to capture changes made to applications and databases. It’s then easier to spot potential anomalies.
- Information security: This layer ensures people perform the correct checks on the previous four layers. That means reviewing internet security policies, verifying that appropriate defense mechanisms remain in place, and looking over strategies surrounding using and handling of sensitive data.
The all-encompassing nature of the layered approach typically makes it inappropriate and infeasible for the design team to solely oversee all these factors. However, they can provide ongoing input relevant to their expertise when engaging in collaborative discussions across groups or with those working on the data center project externally.
People must apply careful thought and best practices to design a secure data center. The individuals involved in such projects will undoubtedly learn many lessons along the way. However, the good news is that they can and should keep track of associated successes and failures. Such circumstances will contain valuable lessons that people can use to inform future data centers they design or ensure their current projects have the best possible outcomes.
Also, people new to this undertaking should strongly consider learning how to design a secure data center from experts who have done it many times before. That may mean working with consultants or people with specialized knowledge. They can help design team members avoid pitfalls and overcome obstacles in the most efficient and practical ways.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating innovations in the industrial sector. She has over 5 years of experience showing how technology is changing the construction and manufacturing industries.
7 Quick Ways to Take the Startup Hiring Process to the Next Level
Recruiting for a startup is one of the first and most rewarding hurdles to overcome in a new business, whether in tech or fabrication. To propel your dreams that may have been developing in your entrepreneurial mind for years, you need some help. But the job market is troubled and quality talent is hard to find.
Fortunately, there are tech tools and strategies to optimize your hiring process, no matter the size of your enterprise. Startups can enjoy time and money saved by researching – before hiring new talent – ways to make your startup hiring process streamlined, fair, and effective.
One of the most efficient ways to sift through copious amounts of candidate information is to create filters from a wishlist. Using technology can automatically eliminate any candidates who do not fit certain criteria.
Each person hired costs $4,700 on average, so being strict with your company’s values and desires will help mitigate those costs. These wishlists don’t have to be just hard skills, either, like having a certain academic degree. They could also represent company culture, such as individuals who have added specific skills to online applications, such as problem-solving and team-building.
Even if you do not yet have a graphic designer or creative team, there are free online tools to help build a brand identity. You can choose fonts, colors, and iconography that speak to your brand’s mission. You will also want to consider brand voice because social media can be a profitable and organic way to publicize your job openings. The style you post in could entice professionals to research further.
Free graphic design tools like Canva, GIMP, and Photopea – and countless free brand identity brainstorming templates – can jumpstart any branding campaign until you hire more qualified staff. Professionalism will go a long way in helping candidates be tempted to apply, especially if they know you’re investing time in creating a company that will thrive for the long term.
Vague requirements in job descriptions are attractive to employers since it requires less effort to be specific. To applicants, it could reveal the employer hasn’t given the position enough consideration. Therefore, the responsibilities of entrants could be muddled. Non-specific descriptions can lead to a surplus of applications that could become impossible to manage.
Job candidates want transparency in job descriptions, such as specific job titles, salaries, and explicitly mentioning company benefits. This means putting exact starting salary information instead of a range.
Especially with startups that don’t have household name recognition, it helps create credibility with employers to load descriptions with information. Startups have inconsistent reputations, and this provides applicants with the sense that they shouldn’t fear submitting because they know the company is stable.
The pandemic forced the adoption of higher-quality video conferencing tech for video interviews and allowed professionals to network digitally, unlike in previous years.
Startups can use platforms like Facebook and MeetUp to find local career events for meeting candidates in person without wasting time scheduling and sifting through applications. Embrace the value of going to in-person hiring events, as it helps employers get genuine first impressions that a written online interview may not reveal.
It also helps put text to faces. Most applications are screen-focused, and job-seekers have unique personalities and concerns that aren’t reflected in an automated application.
Automate processes that aren’t worth your time. You’ll save hours by leaving various responsibilities to different software. Many career platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn use applicant-tracking software (ATS) to expedite processes like:
- Creating a talent pipeline
- Optimizing application flow
- Gathering applicant intelligence
- Sending automated communications
- Advertising positions
- Requesting paperwork and tasks
AI is even helping refugees obtain jobs because it can analyze the gaps between languages. It allows everyone worldwide – especially as remote jobs become more commonplace – to communicate easily while providing equal opportunities worldwide.
Job seekers are looking for more than just salaries from workplaces nowadays. They look for flexible schedules, work-life balance, ongoing learning opportunities, and definite career advancement. The Great Resignation proves that new and seasoned professionals are realizing employers should have greater respect for their workers.
You can decrease turnover and simplify startup hiring by being as honest as possible so professionals with specific and high standards know what they’re signing up for when they apply. This involves creating an employee value proposition (EVP) or a portfolio of what comes along with their job offer.
Avoid candidate rejections after weeks of wasted time when they find the salary or remote work opportunities aren’t what they expected.
The hiring process isn’t just about the interviews – plenty of hiring aspects come after you send the offer letter and before your new hire takes on their first assignment. There’s tax information, procedures, and vacation protocols, among all the other rules about your startup, to brief new hires on. This part of the process is easily streamlined with the help of technological aids.
Ignore lengthy background checks and printing out paperwork for drug screenings. Create a robust learning management system (LMS) that houses videos, informational paperwork, processes, and first-day expectations without even setting up a formal meeting.
Startups lack the financial support to engage in lengthy hiring processes and excessive interviews that yield no entrants. Recruitment for startups is highly competitive, as young professionals see the potential in areas like Silicon Valley and sometimes put startups on a pedestal, believing they lead to quick career development.
Startup recruiters are responsible for creating enticing but also realistic expectations, and to provide young professionals with a seamless and transparent hiring process that briefs them on their responsibilities and benefits. Despite the financial and time investment needed to find the perfect candidates, the benefits will become apparent when profits soar in the coming years.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is disrupting many industries.
The rise of the teacherpreneur
Disruption in the education market
Over the past few decades, education has been radically transformed. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people learning things outside of the traditional classroom… things like yoga, fitness, dance… music, drama, art… languages, programming, business skills… we could call this the “alternative education” market.
But traditional academia, too, is experiencing massive disruption: enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has been declining since roughly 2012. More and more people are realizing that to learn something useful or to build a solid foundation for a career, they don’t have to pay the massive tuition that traditional “gatekeeper” institutions charge. All they need are some good teachers.
Covid19 and the associated lockdowns have only served to dramatically accelerate this transformation. All around the world, remote learning and remote employment became completely normalized during the pandemic. Even those (few) people who previously hadn’t used the internet much for anything beyond shopping are now very familiar and comfortable with Zoom.
It turns out that in the post-covid world, students actually prefer taking classes remotely. Online classes and e-learning are not only here to stay, but things are increasingly moving in that direction.
In 2021, the e-learning market surpassed $320 billion, and it’s projected to reach an astounding $1 trillion in 2028. The global online fitness market alone is predicted to increase at an annual growth rate of nearly 50%, from $11.4 billion in 2021 to $80 billion by 2026.
Teachers and instructors of all sorts make up the “passion economy“, which in turn is a subset of the so-called “creator economy” that includes millions of independent content creators. Creator economy startups which enable these content producers pulled in US$1.3 billion in capital investment in 2021, roughly three times more than in 2020.
These major changes imply that the outlook for schools, studios and institutions is bleak. With more and more people learning online, it’s no longer clear what role, if any, these brick and mortar businesses still have to play.
On the flip-side, the shift is good news for teachers, bringing massive opportunities to independent teachers and instructors. Because fundamentally, nothing has changed in the market: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to learn or practice something with a teacher.
Startups in the passion economy
There are a number of tech companies that are gaining traction in the passion economy. Some are helping teacherpreneurs with marketing and finding new clients, as marketplaces for classes and courses. Some are helping instructors to manage their business and logistics with payment and admin solutions. And there are numerous products that facilitate new ways of monetizing the content that teachers produce. Below are just a few examples:
Tutoring marketplace: thousands of teachers in the United States are earning thousands of dollars each month teaching live, virtual lessons on Outschool, an online marketplace for live video lessons for children. These classes are taught primarily by former school instructors and stay-at-home parents.
Course creation: for alternative education subjects, Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific are three major SaaS platforms that enable educators to create and sell video courses and digital subscriptions. The top educator on Podia earns more than $100,000 a month.
Teacher admin solutions: for managing live classes (both in-person or online), there are already numerous platforms that have been in existence for many years — but they largely cater to schools or gyms that have complex requirements. This makes them prohibitively expensive and much too complicated for indie instructors. For example, MindBody Online is the most well-known class management platform for yoga studios and gyms — but it costs $300/month and requires a person to take a course to learn how to use it.
But some newer startups are focusing on the teacherpreneur opportunity. For example, an emerging player that’s exclusively designed for individual teachers is Ubindi. Billed as “simple software for teachers”, Ubindi satisfies the needs of educators who are not very tech-savvy, who don’t need complicated rocket-ship dashboards and who don’t want to pay for expensive bulky class management systems.
Other tools for teacherpreneurs: an interesting example of a platform that helps educators monetize their craft is Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials that they create themselves.
The dawn of a new age
Professor Klotz at Texas A&M University coined the phrase “The Great Resignation,” forecasting a large number of people who will be abandoning their employment after the covid pandemic, simply because they are no longer happy doing things they don’t enjoy and not being very paid well for it.
The passion economy offers anyone with a skill or passion alternative ways of earning income, providing innovative paths towards both personal and financial freedom. People can pursue their interests and hobbies in ways that also allow them to earn a living.
And it’s not just about personal fulfillment: independent teachers are also finding that they can do very well financially. This is especially true when it comes to teaching online:
- When teaching from home, overhead and expenses are minimal.
- On the internet, the size of a potential client base is virtually unlimited.
- Independent teachers can keep virtually 100% of any revenue that students bring in — in stark contrast to how things used to be when teachers earned between 10 and 20% of the revenue collected by a gym or school.
In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy to set up and operate your own teaching business — one where you can teach exactly what you want and how you want. Teachers can pursue their passion on their own terms and enjoy the highest level of professional fulfillment as teacherpreneurs.
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