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Preparing for the 21st century workplace: 20 trends to watch

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Recently, at a coffee shop, I heard a couple of people talk about sending a resume.  A few of the options were sending the resume by postal mail or sending the resume by FAX.  So it made me wonder about a few things.

What company has a FAX machine?  And even if they did, then where would your FAX’ed resume end up in the scheme of things?  Postal mail?  A resume in printed form is going to be at a disadvantage in a company where the Human Resources department uses software to scan and do content analysis and keyword search on resumes in digital form.  Are they going to OCR-in your FAX’ed resume?  Perhaps you will eliminated at the front gate.

What will a resume be in the digital generation?

I met many people who run away from corporate collaboration sites.  They don’t blog, write, or collaborate via these common digital age tools.  They seem to be “heads down” workers – they do only what they are told to do – no up’s and no extras.

What will be the profile of a successful employee in the 21’st century corporation?

The C-Suite is under fire from the Millennial generation.  Why isn’t the CEO, CFO, CMO, and other C-suite executives blogging?  This is the question that the Millennial generation is asking when they enter traditional hierarchical organizations.  Traditionally,  CxO’s did not have to communicate directly to employees.  Blogging and social media is the air the Millennials breathe.  They’re natural collaborators who enjoy a conversation, not a lecture.  So why doesn’t the CxO blog?  And, I definitely want to be able to post a comment in response.

What will define successful leadership for a 21’st century organization?

In some companies, traditional IT departments along with their CTO’s and CIO’s are being caught off guard by employees bringing wireless tablets to work.  “What is this unregistered device doing on our corporate internal network?”  In response, the employee might say things like.. This is a way I can work more productively… My office is wherever I have my iPad … I can work on the train on my ride to work… Why does my physical office have to be the only place I can work? … Will you implement a ROW? – Results Only Workplace and let me work at home?

Where will your “office” be in the 21’st century?

All of the above is happening right now and it’s a harbinger of the future – if not the present and the future in the making right now.  The above lists are a few trends from my personal experience in a number of companies across multiple industries over the past few years.

I came across this more comprehensive list from the source cited below.  If you are still sending your resume by postal mail or FAX then you might want to study the list below carefully to increase your chances of getting a job in this, the 21st century.


The 2020 workplace will be full of surprises. The best you can do is start today to adapt to, respond to and prepare for the wild cards that will surely be coming your way. So, to assist you, here are 20 trends predicted to occur in time for the 2020 workplace:

  1. You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputation capital. This is the sum total of your personal brand, your expertise and the breadth, depth and quality of your social networks.
  2. Your mobile device will become your office, your classroom and your concierge. Mobile phones and tablets will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  3. The global talent shortage will be acute. The global competition for highly qualified workers will take shape in 2020. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that U.S.-based employers will need 30 million new college-educated workers in the next decade, while only 23 million young adults are expected to graduate from college in that period.
  4. Recruiting will start on social networking sites. Recruiting for the vast majority of professional jobs will start in one of the highly trafficked social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Bebo, Twitter and Second Life.
  5. Web commuters will force corporate offices to reinvent themselves. With the growth of corporate social tech, it will be irrelevant where employees work as long as they deliver results to the team.
  6. Companies will hire entire teams. As teamwork becomes increasingly important in the global workplace, companies are seeing the value of hiring and training an entire team to tackle business problems.
  7. Job requirements for CEOs will include blogging. Keeping in touch with customers, the marketplace and employees is an important role for CEOs.
  8. The corporate curriculum will use video games, simulations and alternate reality games as key delivery modes.
  9. A 2020 mindset will be required to thrive in a networked world. The 2020 mindset will incorporate abilities in social participation, thinking globally, ubiquitous learning and cross-cultural power.
  10. Human resources’ focus will move from outsourcing to crowdsourcing.“Crowdsourcing” refers to how companies, such as Lego, Procter & Gamble and Boeing, use the wisdom of crowds to develop solutions to R&D problems, designs for products and new ideas for businesses.
  11. Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies. Corporate participation in social networks may be as critical in the 2020 workplace as managing cash flow.
  12. You will elect your leader. Companies that encourage employees to elect their leader will be seen as employers of choice, especially for team-oriented Millennials and Gen 2020s.
  13. Lifelong learning will be a business requirement.
  14. Work-life flexibility will replace work-life balance.
  15. Companies will disclose their corporate social responsibility programs to attract and retain employees.
  16. Diversity will be a business issue rather than a human resources issue. The shortage of multicultural talent in the workplace will be addressed as a strategic business priority rather than as a human resources mandate or to fulfill legal obligations.
  17. The lines among marketing, communications and learning will blur.
  18. Corporate app stores will offer ways to manage work and personal life better. As employees increasingly expect to be in control of all aspects of their lives, companies will take a page from the enormously successful iPhone App Store and create corporate app stores to help employees better manage their lives at work and at home.
  19. Social media literacy will be required for all employees.
  20. Building a portfolio of contract jobs will be the path to obtaining permanent full-time employment. Top talent in specialized skill areas will have plenty of opportunities.

Read more

Fascinating – A view of the workplace of the 1970’s from 1922.  Note the prominence of Radio in this description from 1922 (Radio was the new invention of the age) and compare with the prominence of the Internet (the new invention of this age) in the list of trends above.  If the view from 1922 to 1972 (50 years) missed the mark then what can we say of this list above?  What is the “half-life” of these predictions?  What discontinuities, non-linearity, and disruptions will surprise us?  What Black Swans will cross our path in the 21’st century?
Too good to lose (cached copy of the above)

Check out the rest of the site above –

Read a related article on this site –
Making Whuffie in the Social Economy Or, How to be a ravenous social capitalist


Written by frrl

January 2, 2012 at 5:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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