The Future of Work

With each new generation, the world is changing. Every few years, developing technology and the changing demographics change our culture and challenge our views. These cycles can be challenging for businesses. They need to continuously adapt to new technologies and a shift in workplace mentality when the next generation enters the workforce. Millennials and now Gen Z are actively rewriting the future of work using their own ideas and ideals. How are they shaping our modern work culture?

What Drives the Change? Demographic Change & Digitalization

A workplace culture like the one that was coined by start-ups is a direct answer to existing structures. The young workforce evaluates working conditions and figures out their flaws, to then pick up the rein and make it better. What influenced the initial founders of start-ups and those who continue to promote their kind of work culture?

Morals Matter

As a society, our culture and ideals are always changing and developing. This has huge implications on the economy. If we’re looking at today’s values vs values from the past, we see factors such as a greater recognition and visibility of inequities and the consequences of pollution. As a result, customers demand more transparency and proof of social responsibility from companies. The same applies to young people who enter the workforce and are looking for an employee they can support with a clear conscience.

Digital Natives

With the non-stop development of new technologies, younger generations have a different grip on technological and especially digital tools and culture. Tasks like IT maintenance are barely a challenge for them. The first generation that grew up with the internet, the so-called digital natives, use the internet with ease and understand its structure and potential like no other group before them. Entire businesses shift into the virtual world, and social-media-platforms create new jobs like Lets Players and Influencers.

Even traditional companies have no choice but to follow and implement technological improvements. This reaches from making use of SEO strategies and social-media-presences to using purpose-built programs like staff leave management software to simplify their workday and become more efficient.

Making the Best of a Hostile Environment

Let’s not lie, today’s economy is not looking great and young people must shoulder the consequences of the choices of past generations and a few hyper-rich economists that led to staggering inflation and inequities. When couples a decade or two back lived in their houses with children and dogs and maybe dreamed of owning a boat or traveling the world, most people who enter the workforce today are happy when they can afford to live in a city apartment by themselves.

While prices rise, pay stagnates and quality of life decreases. So does the willingness of young people to work for companies that exploit or do not value them in other ways. Instead of resigning themselves to working conditions that harm their mental health, young people create their own businesses with their own rules. That is why you see so many start-ups with a seemingly laissez-faire work culture.

The Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi of Start-ups

Start-ups are born out of adverse socio-economical circumstances. No doubt that is part of the reason why they seem to have an intangible energy to themselves. If you list these factors that define start-up work culture, you can clearly draw lines to the problems that gave rise to them.

Some Defining Factors of Start-up Culture:

  • sense of connection & mutual purpose
  • engagement & passion
  • voice & choice

Overwhelmingly, today’s workforce is looking for a fulfilling job that gives them purpose and keeps them engaged and happy with their work. While older generations might interpret pickiness in hunting for jobs and their benefits as Millennials and Gen Z’ers as fussiness and a sign of laziness, it’s actually quite the opposite. Young workers are willing to work overtime, as long as they believe the work they are doing has a purpose and aligns with their values.

To challenge the top town hierarchy of many traditional companies, start-ups often use flat hierarchies where every employee has a voice and can contribute on the same level as others. This way, workers frequently feel more valued and see the impact their work can leave, motivating them to contribute more. It creates a strong sense of connection and the feeling of working in unison towards the same goal, rather than competing against colleagues.

Typically, start-up employees have more choices when it comes to how they organize their workday. Flexible hours and remote work help them to achieve a better quality of life by freely deciding over their time and being able to align it with their biorhythm, friends, and family. Additionally, bigger focus on letting employees work on what they want to work keeps them engaged with their task and enjoy working.

Conclusion

Start-ups have been called “a state of mind”, since much of their concept is based on an idealistic mindset. Start-up employees are meant to be passionate about their work and find fulfillment rather than purely monetary rewards. A big factor of start-up culture is a strong focus on employee happiness. By increasing their work-life-balance, they are aiming at keeping the staff happy, motivated and engaged. 

Looking at the often grim working conditions of the past, it is easy to see that much of the start-up energy comes from directly opposing established structures that have led to workers experiencing a decreased quality of life.