As Millennials and Gen Z enter the workplace en masse, they are challenging traditional ideas of organizational structures and helping shape a new future of work. These younger generations may get credit for charting the course for the future of work, but Gen X, often considered the “forgotten middle child,” continues to make a mark that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Gen X accounts for more than half of leadership roles globally. Not only are they business savvy, Gen X members are just as tech-savvy, if not more, than Gen Y, most commonly referred to as Millennials. While Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, Gen X forms the backbone of leadership for the next 30 years or so, and as such is laying the groundwork for the future of work.
Work is no longer defined by where, when, or even how you complete projects. Companies need to meet these generations where they are, by prioritizing flexibility and shifting to a new definition of work.
What is the New Definition?
Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials have a new vision of work that’s more collaborative. This definition focuses on three facets:
- Skills over education
- Tech-enabled collaboration
- Remote flexibility
Traditionally, people have pursued jobs in their area of expertise and have stuck to a traditional career path. But today they’re deviating from that path to focus on re- and upskilling to prepare for what companies need. It’s about the skills, not the schools.
When companies combine top-notch skilled leaders on a team and infuse it with a highly collaborative spirit, they create a team set up for driving results. As we speak, Gen X leaders are encouraging skills training, breaking down organizational silos and encouraging hyper-collaboration.
Collaboration depends on the second part of the trio: tech tools. When combining highly skilled experts who may be in different locales, seamless communication can mean the difference between a successful or disparate team. Tech-enabled workplaces and teams enable agility and innovation.
The marriage of tech tools and skills is truly realized with remote teams. Working with talent that isn’t sitting in the same office is increasingly the way to work. Nearly seven in ten Millennial and Gen Z managers allow team members to work remotely, according to the Future Workforce Report. And by 2028, nearly three in four teams will have remote workers.
Baby Boomers Are Charting Their Own Course, Too
This tilt in how people approach work provides opportunities not only for Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials but for Baby Boomers as well. Many Baby Boomers see the future of work and increasing adoption of remote work as a chance to earn money outside of traditional jobs.
As people move into different life phases, they may desire more flexibility in how and where they work, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study. It should come as no surprise then that Baby Boomers may choose a similar path to Gen Y and Z: opting to freelance to balance work and the life they choose to live.
Andrew Hessel, a Boomer and freelance writer, believes there is endless opportunity for fellow Boomers and freelancers everywhere: “I would characterize the way that I look at the future in one word: possibilities. The ability for virtual to become real everywhere, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing in your way, is an extraordinarily encouraging thing because it ignites possibilities.”
With a new definition of work, companies will need to embrace skills, tech-enabled collaboration, and remote teams. The future holds endless possibilities, for individuals, businesses, and the world.
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