How business has changed in 2016

December is traditionally a time to reflect on the year and make plans for the next year. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at trends from 2016 and how they are changing the way that we do business…

The gig economy

The way that we view work is changing. For many, it’s no longer all about jobs, but rather a series of contracts, or gigs, that enable them to do the work that they enjoy. This works especially well for those with specialised skills, expertise or in-demand experience and figures now estimate 20 to 30 per cent of the US workforce to be made up of contractors and self-employed workers.

However, it doesn’t work for everyone and there is evidence that workers within the gig economy are not happy. One review on Uberdiaries says: “I have an accounting background and I lost my professional job. Out of desperation, I became a driver for UBER/LYFT. I keep precise records of all income and expense. The bottom line statistics are not at all promising to be a driver … [I make] an hourly wage (before taxes) of $9.12 per HOUR!”

The UK government has recently launched a review of the gig economy and how it is affecting workers’ rights. It will address questions of job security, pension, holiday and parental leave rights, while also looking at “employer freedoms and obligations”.

The gig economy has, arguably, been one of the biggest disruptors in business this year. It’s grown phenomenally with more and more apps and websites now available to enable workers to easily find jobs. But what its future will look like is yet to be seen.

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Millennials and Generation Z

Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen in business this year is the people. The oldest members of Generation Z are now entering the workplace and they’re bringing new ideas about what work should be.

Millennials have been centre stage of the conversation about the future of business for a long time – and we’re told that they have reshaped the workplace. If that’s the case, preparations should be made for the arrival of Generation Z. Predictions say that this group will be just as focused as millennials – but that their definition of a ‘good employer’ will vary in some important ways.

Classified as those born in the mid-90s to the early 00s, Generation Z is driven like the generation before them, but they have different aspirations. According to research by Adecco, millennial workers aspire to be financially stable – a desire possibly linked to entering the workforce during the deepest part of the recession. Generation Z, on the other hand, don’t have these concerns and focus on their dream job. The research found that 32 per cent of Gen Z aspire to be in their dream jobs within 10 years from now.

Businesses will have a lot to reconsider when trying to attract Generation Z workers too, today’s college students favour opportunity for career growth as the most important aspect of their first job, followed by fulfilling work and stability – with friendly work environments, flexible schedules and the highest salaries ranking lower in priority.

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Virtual and augmented reality

At the beginning of the year, predictions were made about how virtual and augmented reality would develop this year. And while some of the major players in tech have released VR devices during 2016, the technology is yet to really come into its own.

A lot of work that businesses are doing with virtual or augmented reality is still viewed as experimental and until devices are in the hands of everyday consumers, that is unlikely to change.

However, it’s fair to say that the potential for what this technology could achieve is phenomenal. Danny Boice, founder and CEO of Trustify, predicts that VR devices will be the next big breakthrough in computing. “First you had personal computers, then the internet, and then you had mobile. VR will be next,” he says. “Every business will, once again, have to change the way they think about engaging with their customers. In short, VR will shake up the business world in a way that’s even greater than the Internet did in the 90’s.”

It might not have happened when it was expected – with the release of devices such as the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear – but few now doubt that the VR and AR revolution is coming.

What are the trends you’ve spotted this year and what do you expect to happen next in business? Let us know in the comments.

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