Remember the TV show Mad Men?
For many in my generation, it opened our eyes to what working in advertising was like in the 1960s. When the show began, ad executive Don Draper's creative team was made up of only men, there were nearly no HR policies to protect employees in the workplace, women with creative aspirations were stuck behind secretary desks, and everyone smoked in the office.
Clearly -- and luckily -- workplaces have drastically changed. Today, I work with a diverse team to develop creative content for the HubSpot Blog. While I mostly work in-office, I occasionally write blogs from home. And, I'm not the only one. Roughly half our team is actually remote full time.
To me, HubSpot symbolizes what researchers call the "workplace of the future."But HubSpot isn't the only workplace changing to support a more modern idea of work. In fact, with the growth of technology and progressive attitudes around work culture, many other companies are following suit.
If you're a people manager or entrepreneur, it's necessary to look at where future workplaces are headed. This strategy can help you build your recruiting strategies, office policies, and overall company culture around forward-thinking approaches that will pull in competitive and talented job candidates.
Meanwhile, if you're a marketer or advertiser, considering the future work landscape can help you make decisions about which work styles could be best for your career in the long run.
To help you visualize how the office landscape is changing, and give you an idea of which workplaces will enable talented professionals to thrive, here's a list of how the job landscape will likely evolve in the next year and beyond.
8 Ways the Workplace is Changing for Marketers
1. The remote workforce will continue to grow.
If you think remote work is still a "new trend," think again. In 2018, over 70% of professionals reported that they at least occasionally work remotely.
Remote work has benefited both employees and companies with more work flexibility. For example, companies can now hire more diverse talent from around the world now that they're no longer limited to local recruiting for in-house positions.
Now that remote work has become a more of a traditional work style, companies are seeing positive results, In fact, research shows that remote employees can be more productive, happier, and will even work more hours as needed since they don't have to spend time commuting to work.
As we see the growth of remote workforces, we also have seen the struggles remote employees face as well, such as loneliness and fears about not gaining valuable visibility. With these concerns in mind, we might also see more emphasis on company cultures as managers could be working more vigorously to keep their cross-continental teams connected and in the know of what's going on.
2. Workplaces will offer more flexible perks.
Even if you or your team can't work remotely, there will still be a growing expectation of flexibility-related perks at workplaces in the near future. These perks could include more or unlimited PTO and the ability to schedule your own work hours. Each year, more and more companies are embracing flexibility. In fact, 67% of small businesses now report that they offer some sort of flexible work arrangement. Meanwhile, 72% of recruiters and HR reps say this benefit will shape future workplaces.
The impact of flexibility on a company is apparent when looking at the data and stats related to it. Recent research shows that 73% of employees say their company's level of flexibility directly impacts their level of satisfaction at work.
Additionally, flexible perks such as shorter workweeks have been seen to boost productivity. Here's a chart from The Economist that shows the correlations between work hours and employee effectiveness:
Source: The Economist
Flexibility might greatly benefit both employees and employers, but it can still be challenging for more traditional companies to adapt to flexible scheduling at first. For example, it may be harder to coordinate meetings or you may have trouble with team building. To find tips on how to navigate the pros and cons of flexible perks, check out this blog post.
3. Soft Skills will be even more crucial to your career.
In a highly-connected world, soft skills will be the hardest for technology to replace. While a bot can do many mundane tasks for you, it can't (yet) present a convincing business pitch, write a great video script, or create campaigns that play off of an audience's emotions. Soft skills, however, are what enable marketers to do all of those things.
But what exactly are soft skills? While technical skills relate to completing a more structured task, such as math, coding, or physically assembling products, soft skills often rely on context, the mind's ability to adapt to certain situations, and occasionally strategic planning. Examples of soft skills include emotional intelligence, adaptability, public speaking, writing, or other skills related to team management.
Soft skills are especially important for recent graduates or professionals just entering their field. According to a Cengage survey, over 70% of employers are primarily looking for soft skills when vetting entry-level employees. The study also reports that some of the most valued soft skills are related to good listening and solid communication.
Even when you're a seasoned marketer, soft skills will still continue to be important in your highly-creative and analytical career. Think about it? Even at an executive-level position, you could still be expected to pitch new or innovative ideas, manage a team, and use emotional intelligence to create a campaign that your audiences can relate to.
If you feel like your lacking in the soft skill department, here's a quick guide to key skills that you'll want to brush up on -- especially in the world of marketing.
4. Creativity will be particularly valuable to employers.
Out of all the soft skills, one of the most highly valued -- especially for marketers -- is creativity. According to LinkedIn behavioral data, creativity is the most in-demand soft skill in "short supply." LinkedIn's recent report also notes that the demand for creative talent will rise sharply by 2030 as artificial intelligence becomes more prominent in the workplace.
While artificial intelligence can't develop creative skills or projects on its own, a creative mindset enables marketers to think innovatively, experiment, and try new projects that will keep audiences engaged and intrigued.
Don't believe me? Check out these highly creative and thought-provoking campaigns that both awed audiences and generated significant conversions. These wouldn't have been at all possible had it not been for creative or innovative thinking.
5. Artificial intelligence will take over marketing tasks, but not jobs.
In the past, when we thought about technology, we feared that robots would steal our jobs. But, as marketers, it's now apparent that we don't generally have to worry too much about job security any time soon. This is because artificial intelligence or any other technology isn't yet capable of the valuable soft-skills noted above -- especially creativity.
However, while a bot can't pitch an award-winning campaign, it certainly can help you streamline mundane tasks to allow more time to brainstorm your next high-conversion ad.
At this point, AI can help content creators identify highly-searched SEO keywords, generate analytics reports, manage basic social media posts, send automated emails, and adjust online ad spend to prevent you from losing money. These are all things that would have taken up hours of your time years ago.
Business executives are also recognizing the power of AI and how it can help streamline processes. According to a multi-year survey of corporations in the U.S., AI implementation climbed from 48% to 72% between 2018 and 2019. Additionally, 67% of the companies that implemented AI in or before 2018 say they're expanding the areas of their business that use the technology.
While AI is still inaccessibly expensive for some smaller businesses, it is continuing to get more affordable and easier to manage as technology evolves. In the future, we'll likely see more investment in technologies that help employees work smarter rather than technologies that will render your job obsolete.
6. Recruiters will embrace more pre-screening tactics before job interviews.
While employers previously might have screened candidates for technical skills using quizzes or skill-related challenges prior to an interview, professional organizations like LinkedIn now encourage businesses to pre-screen individuals for soft and hard skills through tactics like phone and video interviews.
This strategy allows recruiters and employers to leverage technology to verify that a candidate is a solid job prospect before scheduling a full, time-consuming interview with them. But, while it's great for employers, this type of process might make job candidates a bit nervous or frustrated with the job interview process. If you're intimidated by pre-screenings, check out this blog post about how to navigate video interviews and various pre-screening questions.
7. Effective anti-harassment policies will be even more critical in the workplace.
For years, many workplaces didn't have effective policies related to harassment. In fact, the Supreme Court didn't begin to pass laws related to harassment in the workplace until the 1980s. Even when businesses were required by law to implement these policies, some in-office rules were ineffective as they made it hard for people to come forward with a complaint against someone of a higher power, such as a boss.
The abundance of in-office harassment issues came to light in the midst of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged people of all genders to share stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Aside from sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, such as discrimination and bullying also became more apparent during this movement.
In a LinkedIn survey, 71% of recruiters and HR reps report that anti-harassment policies will continue to change and evolve to fit the modern-day workplace as these rules could impact a talent's interest in a position. This follows another report from Harvard Business Review that highlights how harassment claims are taken more seriously in offices when company leaders properly acknowledge and enforce them.
As the workplace grows more progressive, expect to see companies aiming to develop effective anti-harassment strategies to make prospective job seekers and current employees feel physically and psychologically safe in the workplace.
8. Wages could become more transparent.
LinkedIn reports that 53% of HR reps and recruiters say pay transparency will transform workplaces of the future.
The statistic above makes sense. To many, it's considered "rude" to discuss salary with friends, family, or colleagues. However, with the growth of political activism and news related to gender-based pay gaps, researchers now believe that pay transparency inside and outside of the workplace can help employees negotiate better and fairer wages.
Although pay transparency can cause employees to negotiate higher salaries, researchers suggest that it still benefits companies because it attracts talent and keeps employees at a business for a longer amount of time.
According to a recent study from The Creative Group, pay transparency is already becoming a major trend with over 70% of companies claiming to be partially to fully transparent about job role wages.
Preparing for the Future of Work
As you've seen above, some of the biggest themes related to future workplaces will relate to flexibility, embracing technology, and building a psychologically safe office culture filled with diverse talent. Here are a few tips that can help you embrace these themes.
- Don't be afraid of flexible work. If you're an employer, consider how flexible work schedules or remote options could benefit you and intrigue talented job candidates. If you're an employee, consider how flexible work options could positively impact your career.
- Identify where technology can help you. If you're a manager, consider investing in technology that can help your team have more time to be creative. If you're a marketer, it can also be great to look into technologies that you could recommend to your boss.
- Zone in on soft skills. With the growth of technology, success in the marketing field will depend on your level of irreplaceable soft skills, including emotional intelligence or creativity.
- Listen to your colleagues. If you're a manager, come up with strategies to stay connected to your team members and meet with them regularly, even if they're remote. If you're a marketer, look for opportunities to reach out to team members to gain insight from them. Strong communication will help your team be more productive while also helping everyone identify when an aspect of your processes or office culture isn't working.
To learn more about specific aspects of the future of work, check out this post on jobs artificial intelligence will and won't replace, this guide to successful remote work, or this post on cultivating psychological safety at work.
Originally published Mar 2, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated March 13 2020