What do startups have to do with the future of work?

Startups are a rapidly growing segment of the workforce. How will  this shape the jobs and skills of the future?

Global predictions estimate that independent and remote workers will make up 40% of the workforce by 2020, including gig workers, self employed workers, freelancers, startups, home-based businesses and small business that operate predominantly or exclusively online.

New technology has enabled independent workers, one-person and small businesses to cooperate, collaborate and coordinate with each other, as well as larger organisations, despite geographical boundaries. However, many questions around the required enabling technology, work opportunities, culture, productivity of this emerging workforce remain unanswered.

The startup ecosystem is ripe for observation and research in this area for a number of reasons.

First, the startup model of lean, agile and technology enabled operation is geared towards global scale and high growth, meaning that job creation can be rapid and easily facilitated.

Ecosystem measurement is also on the rise, with state government initiatives such as Advance Queensland and surveys like Startup Muster showing the startup segment is gaining momentum in size, activity and investment.

Startups are also a potential training ground for the development of new skills, which will help ensure young Australians have the skills and experience for the jobs of the future, not the past.

In terms of job numbers and economic impact, startups have an important role to play in creating the jobs of the future in the digital economy. Startups and entrepreneurship are a growing source of new employment and work opportunities, having already created 1.44 million jobs in the Australian economy between 2006 and 2011.

One report identified the tech startup sector as having the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% Gross Domestic Product to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033. Other reports show that without startups, there would be no net job creation in the US economy.

In light of these emerging trends of job creation and future skills, perhaps we could view startups as the petri dish in which to study the Future of Work?

Startups offer an alternative model within which the future of work may be realised through innovative new ventures that create employment for the entrepreneurs themselves, and through growth and scale, create new jobs for direct employment, outsourced employment opportunities for the gig economy, and even new industries.

Productivity wars: Remote work takes on the office!

Forget McGregor vs Mayweather.

In the red corner, all the way from the industrial revolution, weighing in at 9-5, we haaaaave THE OFFICE!

And in the blue corner, dialing in via Zoom, across three different time zones, wearing stretchy pants we haaaaave REMOTE WORK!

Ladies and gentlemen, pride, glory and productivity are on the line here today!

Let's get ready to ruuuummmble!!!!

These two arch rivals have been going round for round over the past few years, but the fight is heating up as companies around the world roll out remote work policies to entice talent and increase employee satisfaction. But there’s been no shortage over coverage on the recent decision by large corporations Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and IBM to wind back their flexible work arrangements.

Both sides cite employee productivity as being the driving metric behind why each way of working is better.

The case for the office

When it comes to why the office is best, organisations claim that people are easier to manage when they are in an office and that it is easier to trust local workers. Some companies report stopping remote work practices because employees took advantage of the perk, skipping meetings and slacking off. From the employee side, there are fewer boundaries, work bleeds into non-work hours, and the distractions and interruptions of home life are ever present. In many cases, the isolation of working from home holds dark consequences of stress, anxiety and lost productivity.

But for every article espousing the benefits and importance of office-based employment on productivity, there is another trumpeting the case for remote work conditions.

The case for remote work

The New York Times reports that remote work increased 79% between 2005 and 2012. So what’s all the hype about? And does productivity measure up? A research study conducted over 2 years, revealed a significant increase in productivity of employees who worked from home, primarily because of fewer distractions and fewer pointless conversations. Employees were also happier and healthier, reducing sick days and absenteeism. Employees want this too, with one study showing that 86% of people prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity, and would take an 8% pay cut in order to work from home.

To the victor go the spoils

The spoils of happy, productive workers, that is. So, in the productivity war between office and remote, who will come out on top? It might just be neither. Because, wait for it, coming in with a flying piledriver is….

WORK FLEXIBILITY!!! With her Wonder Woman vibes and xxx, she takes into consideration each individual's work style, circumstance, personality and goals.

It’s flexibility and choice that are the winning combination, not the location. Employees who have control over their work-life balance have a 90% satisfaction rate, while those without control have a 26% satisfaction rate. And 50% of employees prefer flexible work options instead of a 20 percent pay rise! As for productivity, three in four employers agree that flexible working arrangements provide a positive return on investment.  

There is no one size fits all model when it comes to creating productive work conditions. There are also many factors that contribute to employee outcomes including management style, culture. Organisations need to help with employees figure out what works best for them when it comes to work.

Looking for tools to support your flexible work life? Coworkally is here to help you feel happier and more productive, wherever you work from. Check out our first product, Hey Jess, a personal chatbot to help you find your focus and flow at work every day!

Why you should only focus on one big thing per day

Ah, to-do lists. Where would the productivity movement be without them?

To-do lists are great for getting your thoughts in order, and that addictive buzz of crossing something off.

But to-do lists can have a dark side...

Yes, they help keep track of what needs to be done, but things that could be done or might be done also tend to sneak their way on there...

They can create overwhelm of just how much needs to be done, and then none of the jobs get done!

Also, to-do lists typically only reward small tasks. Checking that “done” box feels good, and if you spend your days on bite-size activities, you get to check that box a lot. Yet the list never seems complete...

That’s why for Hey Jess, we follow the “The One Big Thing’ philosophy. Coined by John Zeratsky, the idea is simple: focusing on one big thing each day is more productive and more satisfying than checking off as many tasks as possible.

The One Big Thing constraint forces you to think carefully about how you want to spend your time at work each day. It also helps move the needle on those important, meaningful projects that produce real value.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Review your inbox, project systems and calendar to identify the one big thing you want to accomplish for the day.

  2. Write it down for clarity and focus.

  3. Get. It. Done.

Here’s why it works:

  1. Multitasking is a myth

The research is clear: what we think of as multitasking is really just switching back and forth between tasks, using up energy and killing your focus. One Big Thing encourages you to consolidate that energy and put it toward a smaller number of big projects that actually make a difference.

  1. You can only focus for so long

A 1993 paper by K. Anders Ericsson explains that most people are only capable of one to four hours of intense, concentrated work per day. One Big Thing helps us make sure we are using this capacity on the most important tasks, but it also keeps us honest about what we’re capable of and sets us up for success!

Hey Jess takes this philosophy of One Big Thing and uses it to help you set your one goal for the day. We go one step further by providing accountability with a follow up to see how your progress went, and celebrating the wins along the way.

Want to get your one big thing done every day? Get started with Hey Jess now!