photo: traditional offices might soon be a thing of the past
Going back a few decades, changing jobs was considered to say the least, risky. One came out of school and got a job that would see him through until he was of pensionable age. Opportunities were, to say the least limited for those with post secondary education or lower. It was either the civil service, one of the local banks or one of the parastatal entities for those lucky ones. These jobs were considered priceless. Once you got in, you had life time job security, a salary that was guaranteed at the end of each month and no risk at all. One progressed according to seniority and the occasional examination, leaving no or little room for initiative. Many have been the recorded cases of civil servants who sat at the same desk, on the same chair, pushing the same pen for twenty years and this is no joke.
This caused an across border complacency and the efficiency or rather the lack of it in government departments and parastatal entities are witness to this. The general shabbiness of the offices, painted in two tone government issue yellow and magnolia and the obligatory neon lights whose covers were the mausoleum of a thousand and one different species of insects did not do much to help either.
Luckily times change and with it the trends related to work. Cost efficiency started being given more consideration and with the opening of world markets and the advancement of technology, opportunities grew not only nationwide but even more so internationally. Slowly but gradually people came to realize that taking risks was worthwhile given the right conditions and that changing jobs was not quite a tragedy after all.
With EU membership came a myriad of opportunity. Suddenly we were faced with a market in which there was much more demand than supply for qualified personnel and the seniority system could not cope with this demand. Government entities had to open their doors and recruit from outside, whilst still giving the opportunity to the civil servants that wanted to qualify themselves to advance according to their abilities and not their age. Technical posts were and still are on the increase and this need in itself has been the catalyst for the civil service to start operating in a more businesslike manner.
The way we look at the labour world today has also triggered a need for more flexibility. Life – work balance is being given much more importance than ever before and eight to four jobs might soon be a thing of the past in certain sectors. Indeed they will be the exception and not the rule.
When telework and flexitime were first introduced, many raised an eyebrow or three; sceptics argued that this new trend will lead to time wasting, abuse and lack of accountability. Facts and statistics have today proven the doubters wrong. Flexibility has given a chance to those persons who for various reasons cannot or do not want to work normal working hours. It has given the chance to those mothers with young children not to throw away years of studying just because they chose to start a family, to dads to be able to spend more quality time with their kids, or their bike!
With the traditional family model as we knew it a decade ago no longer the norm, needs have changed and the labour market had to adapt.
As technology makes giant leaps, even the simple office concept is changing. One can run a successful business whilst having no fixed office. I myself am writing this article in a co-working cafe, that offers cutting edge facilities, and a relaxed quiet atmosphere at a very reasonable price. Places like this makes concentrating easier and this concept is set to grow rapidly with time.
We are living in an exciting era, where every day offers new opportunities, new challenges and fresh openings. This kind of change has to be embraced and unlike before, businesses and entities have to adjust according to the need of the employees and not vice versa. Human resource is the most important asset a company can ever have. Lifelong learning schemes will keep giving all the chances to those who want to advance and improve their careers and position. Moreover those who want to do something new all together can now start all over. Those who opt for a new career are on the increase and this is proof of how open the market of today is.
Before the turn of the millennium most of those who reached the age of thirty were married, in a stable relationship, with a stable job and a couple of kids. Things are different now and people are keener to experience new things in life before settling down.
We need to embrace change not only because we have to but because it is with change that we can move forward successfully. Team building, rewarding competence and balancing work with leisure all lead to more harmony at the place of work, be it a professional office, a manufacturing company or gardening and landscaping firm.
The employees’ output should be valued and this will directly lead to more productivity and ultimately more profit. One cannot have satisfied customers when the employees are not happy on their job. As Sir Richard Branson correctly summed it – “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business, it’s as simple as that”