From Remote Working to the Rise of AI: Meet the Workforce of 2019
Whether you’re a growing SME or just getting started, your employees play a big part in the successful business you once only dreamed of. Yet with the ever-shifting economic landscape a constant distraction, it would be easy to fall behind when attempting to meet the changing demands of the workplace today. From the expectations of new and existing employees to the smart technology designed to streamline your processes, we look at how business owners can continue to attract and retain the best talent – while also improving productivity.
The ‘Boomerang Effect’
The boomerang movement – whereby past employees are choosing to return to their previous jobs some years later – has truly taken off. Having left for pastures new, time out for a young family, or travel overseas, many professionals are now migrating back to their original place of work, keen to get stuck in. With candidates of this ilk returning more experienced, well-rounded and able to hit the ground running, businesses are already maintaining open channels of communication with ex-employees so as to potentially welcome them back in the future. Though very much decided on a case-by-case basis, business owners who contemplate re-hiring past employees can benefit from a team member with valuable transferable skills, and someone who knows the company inside out. While it might seem unusual, bear in mind the benefits a familiar face could have for your business should they unexpectedly come knocking.
Enter the Freelancer
With 2 million freelancers in the UK as of August 2018 (and counting), it’s no surprise that industry professionals from all backgrounds would consider this flexible way of working at some stage during their careers. Where a ‘consultant’ can offer small businesses expert advice on a particular field as and when required (often in-house), those who consider themselves to be a ‘freelancer’ can help SMEs (often remotely) at short notice – minus the long-term commitment. Whether you’re looking for a graphic designer to re-imagine your brand identity or a copywriter to proof and edit a piece of marketing collateral, freelancers up and down the UK continue to offer the perfect solution by plugging the gap as and when needed. Whether it’s by recommendation or matching your job with a suitable profile via Upwork or PeoplePerHour, consider how a freelancer could save you both time and unnecessary hiring costs this year.
Learning to Love AI
Whether we realise it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) already makes a vast and valuable contribution to the way businesses are run across the globe – both great and small. For instance, the evolution of ‘voice assistance’ technology continues to spark curiosity among tech experts – from Amazon Echo’s Alexa to Apple’s Siri, and their inevitable successors. While business owners and their teams are harnessing this technology for improved productivity across the working week, customers are using it to search and even purchase a product or service from the comfort of their living rooms. Other examples of businesses enlisting the help of AI include the use of chatbots on a company website or Facebook Messenger bots, scheduling meetings and appointments with AI software like x.ai, and even conference call translation via Skype Translation. Arguably, you could say that it’s AI freeing up the precious commodity of time for businesses to focus on the ‘face-to-face’ matters that really count.
The Flexible Factor
From doing away with the traditional 9-5 to offering remote working options, flexibility is key when it comes to remaining an agile and futureproof employer. By choosing to respect and support the unique circumstances of your team members, it’s likely you’ll reap the rewards of a long-term relationship with employees who feel valued, and thus work harder. Take the time to speak with your workforce face to face and, rather than shy away from new ways of working, view it as an opportunity to grow. View flexible working as a two-way exchange, allowing employees to truly assert themselves within the parameters available – whether this means hours to suit the daily school run, remote working when dependants are unwell, or time off for a dentist appointment. While small businesses will struggle to compete with the comprehensive benefits packages of larger competitors, this flexible approach to working offers something more valuable to many people than a subsidised gym membership (that never gets used). Embrace change as part of your company culture and strive to evolve your business as a fully inclusive, full potential-seeking workplace that’s in it for the long haul.