How new tech is set to transform our career options

Tech has changed every aspect of our lives. From the way we stay in touch with friends to the way we date, the way we bank and the way we enjoy our favourite TV shows. It’s also reinvented the workplace, and it’s already impacting our careers. But how is tech set to transform our career options in the future?

According to Steve Nicholls, author of 'Reverse Headhunting', and Managing Director of career coaching firm Executive Connexions, the biggest change is the power tech gives us to work from anywhere.

"I like to call it being 'location agnostic'," says Steve. "Tech is broadening the range of career options that are open to us because it means we don’t always have to be based in an office. Thanks to laptops and smartphones, and Skype, email and the cloud, we are able to work from anywhere in the world.

"I speak from experience - I spent a month working abroad to see if my business could still be run in this way, and it easily could. So now I quite frequently work from the comfort of a Caribbean beach - talk about the dream career! But while there are those like me who are already enjoying the benefit tech brings, and I think there will be more and more who want to enjoy this benefit in the future."

Of course, the freedom and accessibility of tech also has a potential downside. Before the rise of the internet and smartphones, when you finished work at 5pm that was it for the day. Now, you are contactable by email or phone at any time. 

It means switching off is likely to become a new skill that the rise of tech will force workers to learn - if they want to maintain the life/work balance that tech promises.

Steve added: "Many larger employers are becoming more open to employees having some flexibility in working location or hours, but this will raise a need to be able to make a clear divide between work time and your own time.

"So while technology has given us some great tools and opportunities, it must be managed well if you want to avoid tinkering away answering emails at all hours. It’s all about taking stock, and making technology work for you."

Read: How to stay happy while changing careers

As well as learning to log off, tech could force us to be more adaptable - and more open to the idea of changing careers. Already certain roles are becoming redundant, think self-service checkouts in the supermarket and cars made by machines.

It’s exciting and daunting at the same time - and, according to careers expert Sarah Archer, who runs CareerTree, it’s something we all need to be mindful of.

"Over the next 50 years or so technology will be used to automate even more of what we do. This can be a good thing if you’re a consumer, but it may also mean workers have to change career more often because our existing roles disappear.

"We will all need to become adaptable, fast learners who are happy to be flexible."

But once the future has arrived, tech means we can look forward to both working in a way that is more creatively rewarding, and finding it easier to change careers - or even set up on our own - if we aren’t happy.

Sarah added: "The impact of technology is going to continue to grow and allow us to be more creative and innovative. Plus, the internet has made it so much easier to discover new careers.

"It also means we can access more skills that open more doors. For example, small businesses can now learn and manage their own social media marketing if they choose to, whereas before they would have employed someone to do it. That makes the idea of setting up your own business far less daunting."

So although there are daunting changes on the way, we have already started to see our career horizons become broadened by tech and more exciting than ever - and the transformation isn’t even yet complete.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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